Former Broadway actress and St. Paul, Minn., benefactor Ruth Easton, died March 16 of natural causes at her home in Beverly Hills. Her age was unreported.
Born about 40 miles north of Minneapolis-St. Paul in North Branch, Easton was a Broadway performer in the 1920s and ’30s.
Broadway shows included “Head First,” “Friend Indeed,” “One Shot Fired,” “Exceedingly Small,” “Buckaroo,” “Town Boy,” “Privilege Car” and “Keeper of the Keys.”
Easton also worked in radio dramas, including “The Rudy Vallee Hour” and “The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour.” She performed with stars such as Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor.
In January, Easton presented the Ordway Music Theatre in St. Paul with a small initial gift to set up the Ruth Easton Fund, the balance of which was to come from her private trust fund after she died. The total could be worth more than $4 million, Easton’s Minneapolis attorney, Thomas A. Keller, said at the time.
Easton attended the U. of Minnesota and Macalester College in St. Paul.
She never married and had two unmarried brothers who succeeded in business. Her money was inherited from them.
She lived most of her life in the Los Angeles area but kept in contact with friends and family in Minnesota.
“She really felt that her roots were in Minnesota,” said Nancy Johansen, a longtime family friend and a Macalester professor.