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Thu, 02.20.1908

Ruby Elzy, great stage or film vocalist

Ruby Elzy

*Ruby Elzy was born on this date in 1908. She was an African American opera singer who appeared on stage, radio and film.

A native of Pontotoc, Mississippi, at the age of five her family was abandoned. Her mother (Emma) Elzy supported the family as a teacher at the colored school in Pontotoc. Elzy is known to have created the role of Serena in George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" on Broadway in 1935. She was married twice, her second husband was actor Jack Carr, who appeared on stage with her in "Porgy and Bess" and who also appeared in a number of films.

Elzy made her film debut opposite Paul Robeson in 1933's "The Emperor Jones" while still a student at New York's Juilliard School. Her most prominent screen moment came in 1941's "Birth of the Blues," starring Bing Crosby, when she sang "St. Louis Blues."

She had just completed the 1943 tour of "Porgy and Bess," when she died following an operation for what was thought to be a minor condition.

Africana The Encyclopedia of the African and
African American Experience
Editors: Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Copyright 1999
ISBN 0-465-0071-1

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