Ruta Lee

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Ruta Lee
in December 2009
BornRuta Mary Kilmonis
(1935-05-30) May 30, 1935 (age 79)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Other namesRita Kilmonis
Ruta Kilmonis
EducationHollywood High School
Alma materLos Angeles City College
University of California, Los Angeles
Years active1953–present
Spouse(s)Webster B. Lowe, Jr. (m. 1976)
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Ruta Lee
in December 2009
BornRuta Mary Kilmonis
(1935-05-30) May 30, 1935 (age 79)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Other namesRita Kilmonis
Ruta Kilmonis
EducationHollywood High School
Alma materLos Angeles City College
University of California, Los Angeles
Years active1953–present
Spouse(s)Webster B. Lowe, Jr. (m. 1976)

Ruta Lee (born May 30, 1935) is a Canadian actress and dancer who appeared as one of the brides in the film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. She is remembered for her guest appearance in a 1963 episode of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone and as a semi-regular on a number of game shows, including the Hollywood Squares, What's My Line?, and as Alex Trebek's co-host on High Rollers. She is of Lithuanian descent.

Early life[edit]

Ruta Lee was born Ruta Mary Kilmonis in Montreal, Quebec, the only child of two Lithuanian immigrants. Her father was a tailor; her mother, a homemaker.[1]

In 1948, her family moved to Los Angeles, California, where she graduated in 1954 from Hollywood High School and began studying acting and appearing in school plays.[1][2] She attended both Los Angeles City College and the University of California at Los Angeles.[1]

Lee worked as a cashier,[1] an usherette, and a candy girl at Grauman's Chinese Theater, but when she was $40 short in her cash account at the end of her shift one night, she was fired.[3]


Lee then got a break as a guest on two episodes of CBS's The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.[1] She soon found an agent, who landed her a job in an episode of the The Roy Rogers Show, followed by a spot in 1953 on the series Adventures of Superman. That same year, while acting in a small theater production of On the Town,[1] she landed a role in the Academy Award-nominated musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.[2] After Seven Brides, Lee appeared in several films including Anything Goes (1956), Funny Face, Witness for the Prosecution (1957), and Marjorie Morningstar (1958) with Natalie Wood. In 1962, Lee appeared in the comedy/western film Sergeants 3 along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Peter Lawford.

In addition to films, Lee has appeared in many guest starring roles on television. For a number of years, she seemed to be everywhere on the screen. From 1957 to 1959, she was cast in different roles in eight episodes of the CBS crime drama television series, The Lineup. In 1959 and 1960, she was cast in four episodes of John Bromfield's syndicated crime drama, U.S. Marshal. Lee appeared as Ellen Barton in the 1960 episode "Grant of Land" of the ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams. She also made five guest appearances on the CBS courtroom drama series Perry Mason between 1958 and 1965, including murderer Connie Cooper in "The Case of the Screaming Woman" (1958), and defendant Millie Crest in "The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll" (1959).

In 1963, Lee guest starred as Lucy Tolliver in the twelfth episode "Enough Rope" of the NBC/Warner Brothers western series, Temple Houston, with Jeffrey Hunter as an historical figure, the frontier lawyer Temple Lea Houston, youngest son of Sam Houston. Temple Houston was canceled after twenty-six weeks. Of Hunter, Lee said, "He was one of the prettiest people that ever was put on the screen, God, he was gorgeous."[4]

Lee was further cast on Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Maverick, Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, Sugarfoot, M Squad, Gunsmoke, 77 Sunset Strip, The Alaskans, Colt .45, Wagon Train, Hawaiian Eye, Rawhide, The Wild Wild West, Ironside,"The Fugitive (TV series)" and Hogan's Heroes. Lee appeared in two guest spots of The Andy Griffith Show in 1962 and 1965. In 1963, she was cast in CBS's Twilight Zone in the episode "A Short Drink From a Certain Fountain".

Lee also began appearing regularly on game shows such as Hollywood Squares, You Don't Say and Match Game. In the early 1970s, Lee continued to perform in both films and television roles on Love, American Style, The Mod Squad, and a role in the 1972 film The Doomsday Machine. By 1974, Lee had grown frustrated by an increasing lack of roles, and took a job co-hosting the daytime game show High Rollers.[2] She remained with the show until 1976.

During the 1980s, she lent her voice to episodes of The Flintstones Comedy Show and The Smurfs, in addition to guest roles on CHiPs, The Love Boat, and Charles in Charge. Lee also performed extensively in the mid 1980s on stage, including the title character in the musical Peter Pan.[5] From 1988 to 1989, Lee had a recurring role on the CBS sitcom, Coming of Age. In 1989, she played the role of Sally Powers in the TV movie Sweet Bird of Youth with Elizabeth Taylor. In the 1990s, Lee continued to appear in episodic television, most notably in the series Roseanne. Lee appeared as the girlfriend of Bev Harris (Estelle Parsons) whose character disclosed she was gay.[6]

In 2006, Lee received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to the television industry.[7] In 1995, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to Lee.[8]

In February 2008, Lee appeared as Clairee in a production of Steel Magnolias with Sally Struthers at the Casa Mañana theatre in Fort Worth, Texas.[3] In October 2010, Lee played the role of Miss Mona in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, also at the Casa Mañana Theatre.[9] She had previously played the role there in 1982.[citation needed] She appeared in 2012 in a small guest appearance on the long-running NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives.

Personal life[edit]

In 1976, Lee married Texas restaurant executive Webster B. "Webb" Lowe, Jr.[2] They divide their time between their homes in Hollywood, Palm Springs, Fort Worth and Mexico.[10] She has no children.


In 1964, Lee called then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, asking him to pardon her grandmother Ludvise Kamandulis,[2] who had been in an internment camp in Siberia since World War II.[3] The pardon was granted, and Lee's grandmother came to live with her in California in 1966.[2] Kamandulis died two years later.[11] Lee again rescued a relative from the former Soviet Union when she secured custody of her 18-year-old cousin, Maryte Kaseta, from Lithuania in 1987.[12]

Lee has been involved with the charitable organization "The Thalians" for over fifty years.[2] In addition to raising money and providing services for troubled youth and mental health organizations, Lee, who is also the board chairman, has co-produced the annual Ball of the Thalians with Debbie Reynolds throughout those five decades.[13] In 2011, She stepped down after 55 years of involvement with the Thalians, and is now an emeritus member.


1954Seven Brides for Seven BrothersRuthCredited as Ruta Kilmonis
1955The Girl in the Red Velvet SwingTennis GirlUncredited
1955Twinkle in God's Eye, TheThe Twinkle in God's EyeRuthie
1956Anything GoesGirlUncredited
1957Funny FaceLettie
1957Witness for the ProsecutionDiana
1958Marjorie MorningstarImogene Norman
1961Operation EichmannAnna Kemp
1962Sergeants 3Amelia Parent
1963The Gun HawkMarleen
1963Hootenanny HootA.G. Bannister
1964Bullet for a BadmanLottieAlternative title: Renegade Posse
1965Invisible DiplomatsConnie Wisner
1972Doomsday MachineDr. Marion TurnerAlternative title: Escape from Planet Earth
1983Rooster: Spurs of Death!Gayly
1983Cracking UpMs. Sultry (Voice)Alternative title: Smorgasbord
1994Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly HillsMrs. Poole
1995Funny BonesLaura Fawkes
2001Pretty When You CryAntique Store PatronAlternative title: Seduced: Pretty When You Cry
2004Quiet KillDorisAlternative title: Nightmare Boulevard
2006Sadie and the Slot MachinesSadie Silver
2007Christmas Too Many, AA Christmas Too ManyGrandmaDirect-to-DVD release
2011Forever Young at HeartShelley Felgerstein
2013For Better or for Worse
1950Adventures of SupermanTeenagerEpisode: "My Friend Superman"
Credited as Rita Kilmonis
1952–1957Schlitz Playhouse of StarsVarious roles2 episodes
1953–1955The Burns and Allen ShowVarious roles2 episodes
1954Lux Video TheatreMarionEpisode: "I'll Never Love Again"
1955Science Fiction TheatreStudentEpisode: "The Unexplored"
1955–1956Alfred Hitchcock PresentsVarious roles2 episodes
1956I Led Three LivesLouise BurkeEpisode: "New Member"
1956DragnetEpisode: "The Big Daughter"
1957Highway PatrolLea FranklinEpisode: "Armored Car"
1957SuspicionBettyEpisode: "The Story of Marjorie Reardon"
1957Captain David GriefRoseEpisode: "The Affair at Les Trois Magots"
1957–1959MaverickVarious roles3 episodes
1957–1959The LineupVarious roles8 episodes
1958The Gray GhostEpisode: "Contraband"
1958Playhouse 90Episode: "The Right Hand Man"
1958The Walter Winchell FileJoanEpisode: "The Dice of Fortune: File #34"
1958Mickey Spillane's Mike HammerVarious roles2 episodes
1958Man with a CameraDolly MacDermottEpisode: "Second Avenue Assassin"
1958Rescue 8Ann DaggetEpisode: "The Cage"
1958December BrideCarol HodgesEpisode: "Bride's Father-in-Law"
1958–1959SugarfootVarious roles2 episodes
1958–1960M SquadVarious roles3 episodes
1958–1962GunsmokeVarious roles2 episodes
1958–196477 Sunset StripVarious roles5 episodes
1958–1965Perry MasonVarious roles5 episodes
1959Yancy DerringerRomilly ValeEpisode: "Two of a Kind"
1959The Restless GunLucy CollinsEpisode: "The Painted Beauty"
1959Peter GunnMarie GipsonEpisode: "Edie Finds a Corpse"
1959The MillionaireAngela TempleEpisode: "Millionaire Angela Temple"
1959Richard Diamond, Private DetectiveLouiseEpisode: "Jukebox"
1959Bat MastersonNellie FontanaEpisode: "The Death of Bat Masterson"
1959Alcoa TheatreEmily MeadowsEpisode: "Medals for Harry"
1959The Lawless YearsGloria FallonEpisode: "The Payoff"
1959MarkhamTammy MilesEpisode: "The Duelists"
1959Johnny StacattoDee DeeEpisode: "The Naked Truth"
1959TightropeLauraEpisode: "Stand on Velvet"
1959WhirlybirdsGinnyEpisode: "Mr. Jinx"
1959HenneseyRuth ThomasEpisode: "Hennesey and Peyton Place"
1959The Man from BlackhawkGinnie ThompsonEpisode: "The Legacy"
1959–1960U.S. Marshal aka Sheriff of CochiseVarious roles4 episodes
1959–1960The AlaskansVarious roles2 episodes
1959–1960Colt .45Various roles2 episodes
1959–1963Wagon TrainVarious roles2 episodes
1960Shotgun SladeLilly CodyEpisode: "Killer's Brand"
1960The RebelEllen BartonEpisode: "Grant of Land"
1960–1961Hawaiian EyeVarious roles3 episodes
1961The Tab Hunter ShowEpisode: "Turnabout"
1961Michael ShayneNaomi LesterEpisode: "Spotlight On a Corpse"
1961DantePeggy BraddockEpisode: "Dante's Fickle Fate"
1961The Brothers BrannaganLynnEpisode: "Shot in the Dark"
1961The Case of the Dangerous RobinEpisode: "Brink of Disaster"
1961Zane Grey TheaterJenny AldrichEpisode: "Man from Everywhere"
1961Harrigan and SonRoseEpisode: "The Legacy"
1961Stagecoach WestVarious roles2 episodes
1961LaramieOpal CraneEpisode: "Siege at Jubilee"
1962OutlawsJennieEpisode: "Farewell Performance"
1962Poor Mr. CampbellPriscilla EdwardsTelevision film
1962CheyenneLenore WaltonEpisode: "Wanted for the Murder of Cheyenne Bodie"
1962The Dick Powell ShowEva GobelEpisode: "Crazy Sunday"
1962–1963RawhideVarious roles2 episodes
1962–1965The Andy Griffith ShowVarious roles2 episodes
1963BonanzaRita MarlowEpisode: "A Woman Lost"
1963Arrest and TrialColleen RileyEpisode: "Call It a Lifetime"
1963Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight ZoneFlora GordonEpisode: "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain"
1963Temple HoustonLucy TolliverEpisode: "Enough Rope"
1963Fractured FlickersHerselfEpisode 20
1964Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, TheThe Travels of Jaimie McPheetersZoe PigalleEpisode: "The Day of the Lame Duck"
1964Fugitive, TheThe FugitiveMrs. Janet LoringEpisode: "Angels Travel on Lonely Roads: Part 2"
1964Virginian, TheThe VirginianVarious roles2 episodes
1964–1965Burke's LawVarious roles3 episodes
1965The Bill Dana ShowYvette RenayEpisode: "Beauty and the Bellhop"
1965Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.Gloria MorganEpisode: "Gomer Dates a Movie Star"
1965The Wackiest Ship in the ArmyEpisode: "The Stowaway"
1965–1967The Wild Wild WestVarious roles2 episodes
1967The Lucy ShowMiss Audrey Fields; herselfEpisodes: "Lucy's Substitute Secretary"; "Lucy Meets The Berles"
1967Judd, for the DefenseAlida NyeEpisode: "To Love and Stand Mute"
1967MannixJean ColemanEpisode: "Run, Sheep, Run"
1967–1969Hogan's HeroesVarious roles2 episodes
1968IronsideMarianEpisode: "To Kill a Cop"
1969Guns of Will Sonnett, TheThe Guns of Will SonnettFanEpisode: "Trail's End"
1969The Flying NunFaye/Sister Mary Grace2 episodes
1969Marcus Welby, M.D.Shirley BallingerEpisode: "All Flags Flying"
1969–1972Love, American StyleVarious roles3 episodes
1971Mayberry R.F.D.TerryEpisode: "The City Planner"
1971A Howling in the WoodsSharonTelevision film
1971The Mod SquadGloria HardyEpisode: "Exit the Closer"
1971ArnieMiss FletcherEpisode: "Et Tu, Arnie"
1972Me and the ChimpLavelle WigginsEpisode: "My Pet, the Thief"
1974Indict and ConvictPhyllis DorfmanTelevision film
1974Roll, Freddy, Roll!Evelyn Danton KaneTelevision film
1979Mork & MindyLisaEpisode: "Mork's Night Out"
1979–1982Three's CompanyVarious roles2 episodes
1980The Flintstone Comedy ShowHidea Frankenstone (Voice)1 episode
1980Vega$Gloria GarlandEpisode: "Love Affair"
1980The Ghosts of Buxley HallErnestine Di GonziniTelevision film
1980Disney's Wonderful WorldErnestine Di Gonzini2 episodes
1980–1983Fantasy IslandVarious roles3 episodes
1981Elvis and the Beauty QueenSu-SuTelevision movie
1981The SmurfsAdditional voicesUnknown episodes
1982Simon & SimonPenny RussellEpisode: "Matchmaker"
1982Madame's PlaceKaye JacobsEpisode #1.42
1983CHiPsBabeEpisode: "Journey to a Spacecraft"
1984The RoustersMrs. SladeEpisode: "Slade vs. Slade"
1984HotelGeorgia PotterEpisode: "Ideals"
1984–19851st & TenRona4 episodes
1985The Love BoatHarriet Wolters1 episode
1985BensonZeldaEpisode: "Solid Gold"
1988Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul SchoolRevolta (Voice)Television movie
1988–1989Coming of AgePauline Spencer15 episodes
1989Jake and the FatmanLeilani SimmonsEpisode: "Sweet Leilani"
1990Timeless Tales from HallmarkVoice roleEpisode: "Rapunzel"
1990Charles in ChargeGloriaEpisode: "Three Dates & A Walnut"
1990People Like UsFaye ConverseTelevision film
1990Murder, She WroteReneeEpisode: "A Body to Die For"
1992DeltaCharlotte TylerEpisode: "How Much Is That Darden in the Window?"
1993The BuildingSylviaEpisode: "Yakkity Yak Don't Talk"
1997RoseanneJoyce2 episodes
1998Saved by the Bell: The New ClassMrs. GoreEpisode: "Cigar Wars"
2000Power Rangers: Lightspeed RescueKoko KashmereEpisode: "In the Limelight"
2003Life With BonnieMrs. Ruta BlanchetteEpisode: "Places, Stat!"
2005Studio HouseLily FargateTelevision movie
2006Christmas Do-OverGranny ConlonTelevision movie
2007Christmas at Cadillac Jack'sRose JenkinsTelevision movie
2012Days of Our LivesTillie InmanEpisode #1.11749

In 2009, she played a 'straight' role as herself in the hilarious British hidden camera comedy La La Land. A series about the stupidity of people trying to make it in Hollywood and those trying to help them.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Schwartz, Harry (June 3, 1998). "Asian slaw proves a treat for Ruta Lee". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 22, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Private Life & Times of Ruta Lee".
  3. ^ a b c [dead link] Lowry, Mark (February 10, 2008). "Homecoming Queen". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved March 28, 2008. 
  4. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 108-109
  5. ^ "About Ruta Lee, The Legend". Desert Charities. 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ Christine, Sparta (March 11, 2003). "Emergence from the closet". USA Today. Retrieved March 28, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Ruta Lee gets star on Hollywood Walk". USA Today. October 11, 2006. Retrieved March 28, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated" (PDF format).
  9. ^ "News". Retrieved October 25, 2010. 
  10. ^ Ruta Lee official biography
  11. ^ Gekko, Joann (August 15, 1986). "Oldest Active Military Officer in US Retires". The Fresno Bee. 
  12. ^ Mastick, Spencer (October 16, 1987). "Actress Gets Her Cousin Out of Soviet Union". The Fresno Bee. 
  13. ^ "Going For the Gold...51st Anniversary Ball of the Thalians". October 7, 2006. 

External links[edit]