Tom Rutherfurd (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 09, 2022

The youngest, and by his own admission the worst reporter that the Richmond, Virginia, News Leader ever hired, made his motion picture debut as King Ferdinand the Seventh of Spain in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “The Firefly.”

His name is Tom Rutherfurd. He spells it with two “u’s,” and the only reason that the paper ever hired him was that the managing editor thought he was a college graduate, when as a matter of fact he had only just finished prep school.

“And I was the most stagestruck kid that was ever sent to review a show,” he now admits, which led him to seek a career behind the footlights instead of in front of them. Eventually it led to a contract with Metro Goldwyn-Mayer.

He was brought to Hollywood last winter after appearing in the New York production of “New Faces.”

Track Star

Born in Richmond, July 21, the son of James T. and Edith E. Rutherfurd, Tom attended Woodbury Forest Preparatory School for the University of Virginia, where his chief claim to fame was as high hurdle record holder for the Southern prep schools. It was after he finished prep school that he went to work as a reporter, but the stage “bug” had bitten him badly and he moved on to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he studied under David Belasco, Daniel Frohman and Charles Jehlinger. His one previous experience in stage work had been in a stock production of “Merton of the Movies.” After two years at the Academy, he made his New York debut with Florence Reed and George Tyler in “Macbeth.”

Falls to Fame

It was in the Philadelphia opening of that show that Rutherfurd really distinguished himself, however. He threw himself down a fourteen-foot flight of stairs, sprained his knee, caused the star to forget his lines, got notices in all the Philadelphia papers, was given a better part as a result and thus his career was launched. So he hadn’t forgotten his earlier lesson in the value of newspaper space.

Various productions in and around New York, and on tour, followed, with such stars as William Farnum, Claire Luce, William Faversham, Lyn Harding, Margaret Anglin, Effie Shannon and Louis Calhern. His last New York show was “New Faces of 1936,” in which he had the male lead.

Six feet tall, 155 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes, Tom Rutherfurd is quite prepared to return to the stage if motion pictures do not find his qualifications sufficient. But his Hollywood future, despite the delay, seems assured.

Lists Favorites

His favorite play is Eugene O’Neill’s “Beyond the Horizon,” his favorite film, “La Maternelle,” his favorite recreations, riding and swimming, and he wishes the film players rode to hounds. He lists Theophile Gautier as his favorite classical author, Moliere as his favorite classical playwright, the four symphonies of Brahms as his favorite classical orchestrations. Titian is his favorite classical painter, Maxwell Anderson his preference in modern playwrights, Monet and Cézanne his choice for modern painters and the New York Philharmonic is his favorite orchestra. Otherwise, he has no prejudices and an open film future before him.

Upon completion of “The Firefly” he appeared in a featured role in Rosalie, co-starring Nelson Eddy and Eleanor Powell.

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