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Ruby Keeler's Geni Profile

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Ethel Hilda Keeler

Birthplace: Dartmouth, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Death: Died in Rancho Mirage, California, United States
Cause of death: Cancer
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ralph Hector Keeler and Eleanor Keeler
Wife of John Homer Lowe
Ex-wife of Al Jolson
Mother of Al Jolson, Jr.
Sister of Helen Keeler and Margie Keeler-Weatherwax

Occupation: Dancer
Managed by: Adam Robert Brown
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Ruby Keeler

Ruby Keeler (born Ethel Hilda Keeler; August 25, 1910 – February 28, 1993) was a Canadian-born American actress, dancer and singer.


Jolson was the hottest property in show business in 1928. That's when he met and fell for Ruby Keeler, a nineteen year old chorus dancer at Texas Guinan's Manhattan speakeasy. Jolson was more than twice her age, and she was already romantically involved with mobster Johnny "Irish" Costello. But as before, Jolson launched a relentless romantic offensive, showering Ruby with gifts and attention. After Jolson gave Ruby a pre-wedding gift of one million dollars, her Irish Catholic family dropped all objections, as did Costello. Al and Ruby were married in September 1928 and honeymooned in Europe.

Ruby had been raised on the streets of New York, and was not one to quietly put up with Al's sometimes dismissive, sometimes abusive attitude. Unlike his other wives, Ruby also had a career of her own. So long as that career provided her with sufficient distraction, Ruby would endure the strain of being Mrs. Jolson.

Al tended to show plenty of interest in Ruby whenever it suited his insatiable desire for publicity. When Florenz Ziegfeld invited Keeler to star in the Broadway musical Show Girl (1929 - 111), Jolson insisted that she accept. Knowing her talents were limited, Keeler was terrified. At the first pre-Broadway performance in Boston, she was dancing to the Gershwin showstopper "Liza" when Al unexpectedly stood up in the audience and started singing it. The audience, thinking that Jolson was encouraging his young wife, roared its approval. Ziegfeld made the most of the situation by convincing Al to repeat the stunt during the show's first week in New York.

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Ruby Keeler's Timeline

August 25, 1910
Dartmouth, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
September 21, 1928
Age 18
December 26, 1939
Age 29
October 29, 1941
Age 31
February 28, 1993
Age 82
Rancho Mirage, California, United States