Ruth Roman, popular leading lady of film and TV during the 1940s and ’50s who parlayed a co-starring role with Kirk Douglas in “Champion” into a studio contract at Warner Bros., died Sept. 9 at her home in Laguna Beach. She was 75.
Although she had appeared in a handful of films during the early 1940s including “Stage Door Canteen,” “Since You Went Away” and the serial “The Jungle Queen,” Roman hit her stride in 1949 with the Stanley Kramer-produced “Champion.” She nonetheless made her mark by portraying intelligent, strong-willed characters.
After signing with Warner Bros. she worked with Bette Davis in “Beyond the Forest,” “Three Secrets” with Patricia Neal and Farley Granger in the Alfred Hitchcock-helmed “Strangers on a Train.”
In 1952 she worked with fading screen legend Errol Flynn in “Maru Maru” and appeared with Gary Cooper in “Dallas” and “Blowing Wild.”During the 1950s she divided her work schedule equally between television and features, appearing in numerous New York-based TV shows including “Playhouse 90.”
Additional TV credits included “Studio One,” numerous Philco productions and a recurring role with Edmund O’Brien on the TV series “Long Hot Summer” during the 1965-66 season. Roman also appeared with regularity on such TV shows as “Route 66,” “Naked City,” “The Defenders,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Knots Landing.”
A native of Boston, she began acting in community plays at age 9 and garnered a scholarship to the Bishop Lee Dramatic School. She tried Broadway without success and wound up working as a model. She then headed to Hollywood and Universal Studios, where a bit part in “Stage Door Canteen” led to bigger roles and eventual success.
She is survived by her son, Richard Roman Hall.