This is a fun image to share! I paid more for this print than I’ve ever paid before or after – over $400 – but it was worth it! It’s not dated, but if you look at the photographer’s imprint in the bottom right corner it reads “Paul Stone Raymor, LTO, Chicago”
Chicago! So it most likely was shot before she left for New York in 1927. And on the back of the print there are a couple of stamps – one says “Culver Service, 205 East 42″ and the other says “Ruth Etting, Sweetheart of Columbia Records” – so that must mean this print was distributed after she signed her record deal in 1926 – and while there may be a 42nd Street in Chicago too, the 42nd Street in NYC is the heart of Broadway. Ruth came to New York to appear in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, on Forty-Second Street. So it seems pretty clear that this image was shot sometime between 1926-1927 in Chicago, and was used to promote Ruth once she arrived in New York, for her first show on Broadway.
For many years this was my favorite image of Ruth Etting – I loved the pearls and the feathers! It’s a very famous image of her, and used on a record album cover released in the 1980′s, as well as elsewhere. So when I saw the image posted above, I had to have it! I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but the pearls wrapped around her upper arm are the same, and there are enough other similarities that it makes me think it may have been shot during the same session, or soon after.
It’s not an art print – it’s printed on thin paper and feels like a promo piece that was probably reproduced many many times – but that doesn’t mean any of the other prints have survived. I was grateful to see this one, and grateful to be able to purchase it, and now I’m happy to share it with all of you!
I would say that my three favorite Ruth Etting images, are this one, the sister image I linked to above, and this shot from 1925, with pearls wrapped around her head. Evidently Ruth had a thing for pearls!
And finally, here’s a closeup of the pearls wrapped around her upper arm – the way the pearls glow, and the delicacy of the netting – it’s just a beautiful print!