IMAGE | The Great Depression

Ruth Etting, in 1933

Most of my favorite images of Ruth Etting are from the mid-1920′s – I like the jazz baby, art deco feel of her earliest images – most of which were shot in Chicago. When she hit New York in 1927 she was photographed extensively by Alfred Cheney Johnston, one of the most famous photographers of the era, and the man who photographed all the Ziegfeld Girls. Next up for Ruth Etting was Hollywood, and some early-1930′s glamour light – those tend to be my least favorite images of her.

The image above was shot in 1933, right in the middle of Ruth Etting’s years in Hollywood, but it was also right in the middle of the Great Depression, and this image reflects that reality. Gone are the evening gowns and pearls of the 1920′s and instead she’s wearing a simple printed dress and her hair is softer and less stylized. The lighting is much softer and more flattering than many of the images of her from this time period. It also is perhaps the very best image of her eyes that exists.

As much as I love the art deco infused images of her years in Chicago, this depression era photo is charming in it’s own way – and just as easy to love.

This image appeared on sheet music…

The Old Spinning Wheel (Hill) 1933

And a similar image, shot at the same time…

Gypsy Fiddles (Wrubel) 1933
Just A Year Ago To-Night (Rose, David) 1933
True (Samuels, Whitcup) 1934
Tiny Little Fingerprints (Tobias, Newman, Stept) 1935

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