Virginia Bruce

Virginia Bruce

Photographed for CBS Radio, 1948
Born Helen Virginia Briggs
(1910-09-29)September 29, 1910
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Died February 24, 1982(1982-02-24) (aged 71)
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1929–1981
Spouse(s) John Gilbert (m. 1932–34), divorced; 1 child
J. Walter Ruben (m. 1937–42), his death; 1 child
Ali Ipar (m. 1946–51), divorced
Ali Ipar (m. 1952–64), divorced
Children Susan Ann Gilbert (b. 1933)
Christopher Ruben (b. 1941)

Virginia Bruce (September 29, 1910 – February 24, 1982) was an American actress and singer.


Born Helen Virginia Briggs[1] in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When she was one month old, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota, with her parents, Earil and Margaret Briggs. According to the Fargo City Directory, the Briggs family lived at 421 14th Street South, Fargo. After she graduated from Fargo Central High School in 1928,[2][3] she moved with her family to Los Angeles intending to enroll in the University of California, Los Angeles when a friendly wager sent her seeking film work. She got it as an extra in Why Bring That Up?. In 1930 she appeared on Broadway in the musical Smiles, followed by America's Sweetheart in 1931.[4]

She returned to Hollywood in 1932, where on August 10, 1932,[5] she married John Gilbert, her co-star in the film Downstairs. She retired briefly after the birth of their daughter Susan Ann Gilbert.[6] The couple divorced in 1934, and Virginia returned to a hectic schedule of film appearances. Gilbert died two years later in 1936.

Bruce introduced the Cole Porter standard "I've Got You Under My Skin" in the film Born to Dance and costarred in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical The Great Ziegfeld. One of her final film appearances was in Strangers When We Meet.[6]

In 1949, Bruce starred in a daily 30-minute radio drama. Make Believe Town was an afternoon program on CBS.[7]

Personal life

Bruce married her second husband, film director J. Walter Ruben, in 1937, making the Wallace Beery western The Bad Man of Brimstone with him that year, and they had a son named Christopher, but she was widowed in 1942. In 1946 she married Ali Ipar. They divorced in 1951 in order for him to receive a commission in the Turkish Military (which forbade promotions of men married to foreigners), but remarried in 1952, divorcing again in 1964.

Bruce died of cancer on February 24, 1982, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital[1] in Woodland Hills, California.[6] She was 71.

Partial filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1929 Fugitives Bit Part Uncredited
Blue Skies Party guest Uncredited
The Love Parade Lady-in-Waiting Uncredited
Woman Trap Nurse
1930 Whoopee! Goldwyn Girl Uncredited
Let's Go Native Chorus Girl Uncredited
Paramount on Parade Chorus Girl Uncredited
Follow Thru Bit in Ladies Locker Room Uncredited
Slightly Scarlet Enid Corbett
Lilies of the Field Doris
1931 Hell Divers Girl Scenes deleted
1932 The Miracle Man Margaret Thornton
Downstairs Anna
Winner Take All Joan Gibson
Kongo Ann Whitehall
1934 Dangerous Corner Ann Peel
Jane Eyre Jane Eyre
The Mighty Barnum Jenny Lind
1935 Shadow of Doubt Trenna Plaice
Escapade Gerta
Here Comes the Band Margaret
Society Doctor Madge
The Murder Man Mary Shannon
Times Square Lady Toni Bradley
1936 The Great Ziegfeld Audrey Dane
The Garden Murder Case Zalia Graem
Born to Dance Lucy James
1937 When Love Is Young Wanda Werner
Between Two Women Patricia Sloan
The Bad Man of Brimstone Loretta Douglas
Women of Glamour Gloria Hudson
1938 Arsène Lupin Returns Lorraine de Grissac
Woman Against Woman Maris Kent
Yellow Jack Frances Blake
The First Hundred Years Lynn Conway
There Goes My Heart Joan Butterfield
1939 Society Lawyer Pat Abbott
Let Freedom Ring Maggie Adams
Stronger Than Desire Elizabeth Flagg
1940 Flight Angels Mary Norvell
Hired Wife Phyllis Walden
The Invisible Woman Kitty Carroll
1941 Adventure in Washington Jane Scott Alternative title: Female Correspondent
1942 Pardon My Sarong Joan Marshall
Careful, Soft Shoulder Connie Mathers
1944 Action in Arabia Yvonne Danesco
Brazil Nicky Henderson Alternative title: Stars and Guitars
1945 Love, Honor and Goodbye Roberta Baxter
1948 Night Has a Thousand Eyes Jenny Courtland
1949 State Department: File 649 Margaret "Marge" Weldon Alternative title: Assignment in China
1954 Salgin Nurse Alternative titles: Epidemic
1955 Reluctant Bride Laura Weeks Alternative title: Two Grooms for a Bride
1960 Strangers When We Meet Mrs. Wagner
1981 Madame Wang's Madame Wang
Year Title Role Notes
1953 General Electric Theater Adele 1 episode
1955 Letter to Loretta Dee Norman 1 episode
Science Fiction Theatre Dr. Myrna Griffin
Jean Gordon
2 episodes
1957 The Ford Television Theatre Ruth Crest 1 episode


  1. 1 2 "Film Actress Virginia Bruce dies at 71 after long illness". California, San Bernardino. The San Bernardino County Sun. February 25, 1982. p. 10. Retrieved January 7, 2016 via
  4. Virginia Bruce at the Internet Broadway Database
  5. "Here's Proof John Gilbert Is Screen's Great Lover". New York, Syracuse. Syracuse Herald. August 11, 1932. p. 12. Retrieved January 7, 2016 via
  6. 1 2 3 Virginia Bruce at the Internet Movie Database
  7. "Ethel Merman, Virginia Bruce In Radio Dramas". Freeport Journal-Standard. July 30, 1949. p. 3. Retrieved May 3, 2015 via
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