Jessie Ralph (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸
Jessie Ralph is one of thirteen children born to Captain James Chambers and his wife, Margaret. She was born on November 5, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, from where her seafaring father sailed as master of the schooner, Mary Anna, to fish on the Grand Banks.
Captain Chambers and his wife were both Scotch. Neither of them, nor any of their ancestors, had been in the theatre. Thus, lacking an explanation for her childhood ambition to act, Miss Ralph now attributes it to the occasion at school when she was called on for a recitation. It was Will Carlton’s “The Schoolmaster’s Guest,” and it was lengthy.
“I recited all of it,” Miss Ralph recalled. “And I acted it out in pantomime. Someone applauded and I must have conceived the notion in that moment that I wanted to be an actress.”
On Stage at 16
Her career has been a record of fortitude. Determined to become an actress, she went on the stage in repertoire in small towns in the South at the age of 16. During the long struggle before she reached New York, years later, there were times when she almost starved.
She finally reached her goal on Broadway in “Resurrection.” Later she appeared in “Romeo and Juliet,” “Twelfth Night,” “Fools and Francesca,” “Pelleas and Melisande,” “Road to Rome,” “The Bat,” “The Man with a Load of Mischief,” “Such a Little Queen” and others.
Her first picture was “Child of Manhattan,” followed by “Cocktail Hour,” Nana, “Jalna,” The Affairs of Cellini, “Murder at the Vanities,” Camille, “One night of Love,” “We Live Again,” “The Unguarded Hour,” David Copperfield, San Francisco, The Good Earth, “After the Thin Man,” The Last of Mrs. Cheyney and “Double Wedding.”
Miss Ralph has played through Europe and knows several foreign languages. She played two years in Paris as the star of an American company. She has never been an ingenue; always a character actress, and has never aspired to be anything else.
To this day, Miss Ralph experiences the old familiar panic of “first night” in the theatre when she launches a new picture with new colleagues and a director with whom she has not worked before.
Jessie likes frank, unaffected people, and her pet aversion is an insincere compliment. She attaches no importance to money, and would rather act than eat. Her hobby is collecting pictures and her tastes run to Rembrandt and Franz Hals reproductions. She selects her reading material from Shakespeare, Galsworthy, Willa Cather and Eugene O’Neill. Her favorite historical character is Lady Hamilton.
Won’t Walk Under Ladder
Although she doesn’t give any credence to the superstitions of the stage, Miss Ralph won’t walk under a ladder. Two of her closest friends are Ann Harding and Jane Cowl. Her favorite colors are blue and brown, and she likes all her foods plain. She is a member of the well-known Town Hall Club of New York.
Since signing her long-term contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Jessie has made her home in Hollywood. She lives in an apartment and seldom takes part in the social life of the film city.