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Ruth Draper
Born December 2, 1884(1884-12-02)
Died December 30, 1956 (aged 72)
Occupation Stage actress

Ruth Draper (born December 2, 1884, New York City - died December 30, 1956, New York, New York) was an American actress and dramatist. She specialized in character-driven monologues and monodrama.

Her best known pieces include The Italian Lesson, Three Women and Mr. Clifford, Doctors and Diets and A Church in Italy.

She had many relationships in Italy, in large part through her relationship with Lauro de Bosis, a young Italian poet and writer who died in 1931 after a daring flight over Rome during which he threw thousands of leaflets denouncing Mussolini and the Fascist party.

A short biography of Draper is among several collected by the Anglo-Italian writer Iris Origo in her book, "A Need to Testify" (1984).

Such theatre legends as George Bernard Shaw, Thornton Wilder, John Gielgud, Katharine Hepburn, Maurice Chevalier, Laurence Olivier, and Uta Hagen were among those dazzled by Draper's artistry and talent, as were Henry James, Henry Adams, and Edith Wharton.

Draper died in 1956, aged 72, just hours after giving a performance on Broadway.



Her nephew, Paul Draper, was a noted dancer and actor. Her second cousin was the society architect Paul Phipps (father of British actress Joyce Grenfell). Grenfell became a monologuist too -- her career directly inspired by Draper.


Recordings of Draper's monologues, which are still available on compact disc, have influenced many contemporary writers and performers, including Lily Tomlin, Mike Nichols, Julie Harris, Simon Callow, Emma Thompson, Charles Busch, David Mamet, Julia Sweeney and John Lithgow.


External links

Further reading

  • Young, Jordan R. (1989). Acting Solo: The Art of One-Person Shows. Beverly Hills: Past Times Publishing Co.
  • Catron, Louis E. (2000). "The Power of One: The Solo Play for Playwrights, Actors, and Directors." Portsmouth, N.H: Heinemann.
  • Origo, Iris (1984) "A Need of Testify".


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