Ruby Mercer (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 09, 2022

Ruby Mercer realized a childhood ambition when she stepped out on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York to sing a leading role in one of the season’s important production. Her appearance at the Metropolitan was the top after the young lyric coloratura’s brief, rapid climb to success.

The daughter of Ive McElhinny Mercer and L. L. Mercer was born in Athens, Ohio, July 26. Her father’s fine baritone voice was an inspiration to her, and when, as a small child, she decided she wanted to be an opera star, he gave her every encouragement. His daughter began taking lessons in voice and piano at an early age, becoming an accomplished pianist as well as a great singer.

Graduate of Ohio University

Ruby attended grade and high schools in Athens and received a degree of bachelor of arts from Ohio University, completing the course in three years. Her favorite subjects were mathematics, journalism and languages.

After receiving her college diploma she went to the editor of her home town paper, the Athens Messenger, told him that she thought newspaper work was interesting and exciting and asked for a job.

He offered her a position as feature writer and music reviewer for the concerts given at the university during the school year. She accepted, held the job for several months until she was invited to visit a former classmate whose father was an United States army officer in Honolulu.

Year In Honolulu

She went to Honolulu and stayed a year, giving piano lessons to sons and daughters of army officers at Schofield Barracks. Desiring to resume her own musical education, she returned to the United States and enrolled in the Cincinnati Conservatory, remaining two years and graduating with a degree of bachelor of music.

As a star pupil from the conservatory she impressed the company manager of a summer opera company in Cincinnati who assigned her to a leading role in “Romeo and Juliet,” in which she made an outstanding success. From there she went to Lake Chautauque, N. Y., where she played in “Barber of Seville,” “Marriage of Figaro” and “Rigoletto” with another summer opera company. Later she played two seasons with the St. Louis Municipal Opera Company.

Recommended for a fellowship at the famous Juilliard school in New York, she completed further training in voice, was given an audition by the Metropolitan and assigned the leading role in “Tales of Hoffman.” Later she sang the part of Nedda in “Pagliacci” and Marguerite in “Faust,” finding time between productions to appear as prima donna in the Broadway musical “Forbidden Melody.”

Attracts Talent Scouts

It was Miss Mercer’s Broadway appearance in “Forbidden Melody,” the Sigmund Romberg musical, that attracted studio talent scouts. She was asked to make a screen test that proved successful and was placed under contract by M-G-M.

To keep in condition, she swims, rides, plays tennis, and for recreation reads and plays the piano. She prefers travel books to fiction and would like to make a world tour as a vacation.

She admires the genius of Picasso among modern painters, Rembrandt as a classicist, and selects the Philadelphia symphony orchestra as the one she likes best to hear, particularly playing selections from “Siegfried” and “Traviata.”

Five feet, five and one-half inches in height, she weighs 120 pounds, has green eyes and ash blonde hair.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937