Wesley Ruggles Biography

Wesley Ruggles was an American film director best known for the classic western ‘Cimarron.’ This biography of Wesley Ruggles provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: June 11, 1889

Nationality: American

Famous: Directors American Men

Died At Age: 82

Sun Sign: Gemini

Born in: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Famous as: Film Director


Spouse/Ex-: Arline Judge, Kathryn Crawford, Marcelle Rogez, Virginia Caldwell

siblings: Charles Ruggles

Died on: January 8, 1972

place of death: Santa Monica, California, U.S.

U.S. State: California

City: Los Angeles

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Wesley Ruggles was an American film director best known for the classic Western movie ‘Cimarron.’ While the film earned him much popularity, success did not come to the man easily. Prior to making ‘Cimarron,’ he had already made around 50 films, most of which were unremarkable and were forgotten soon after their release. However, with the success of ‘Cimarron’ his career picked up and he went on to direct several other popular films like ‘No Man of Her Own’ and ‘I'm No Angel.’ Born in Los Angeles, he developed an early interest in cinema which was in its nascent stage while Wesley was growing up in the early 20th century. His brother, Charles, too was deeply interested in films and the two brothers forayed into this exciting new medium of entertainment that was emerging in America. Wesley began his acting career as a young man and appeared in a series of silent movies, sometimes together with Charlie Chaplin. Soon he ventured into direction which he found to be more interesting than acting. His early years as a director were very difficult; he did not enjoy success for a long time despite making several films. He first tasted success with the extravagant Western blockbuster ‘Cimarron’ which established him as a reputed director.

Childhood & Early Life
  • Wesley Ruggles began his acting career in 1915, playing a Keystone Kop in the comedy short ‘Caught in a Park.’ Over the next couple of years he appeared in a series of short films with comedian Charlie Chaplin which included ‘The Bank’ (1915) and ‘Police’ (1916).
  • By 1917, he became more focused on direction and began his directorial career with a series of short films. In the late 1910s, as the World War I was winding towards an end, he served as a camera operator with the Army Signal Corps.
  • He directed his first feature film ‘The Winchester Woman’, a crime drama, in 1919. His other early movies include ‘The Leopard Woman’ (1920), ‘The Remittance Woman’ (1923), and ‘The Age of Innocence’ (1924), the first screen adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel.
  • A prolific director, he made numerous movies like ‘Finders Keepers’ (1928), ‘The Fourflusher’ (1928), and ‘Port of Dreams’ (1929). Following the advent of the talkies, he released the Laura La Plante film, ‘Scandal’ (1929), which featured some spoken dialogue.
  • Despite being a proactive director he was not successful. Most of the films he directed were lackluster and were forgotten soon after they released and failed to make an impact on either the critics or the audience. While struggling to establish his career, he made many melodramas starring Ethel Clayton, none of which performed well.
  • His fortunes changed for the better in 1931 when he directed the Western film ‘Cimarron’ which was adapted from the Edna Ferber’s eponymous novel. The epic film, which spanned 40 years from 1889 to 1929, was a critical success and earned Ruggles the recognition and appreciation he deserved.
  • Over the ensuing years he directed a series of comedies including ‘No Man of Her Own’ (1932) with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, ‘I'm No Angel’ (1933) with Mae West and Cary Grant, ‘College Humor’ (1933) with Bing Crosby, and ‘Bolero’ (1934) with George Raft and Carole Lombard.
  • Though he enjoyed considerable success in the early 1930s, his career began to falter after that. Some of the films he made in the late 1930s were ‘The Bride Comes Home’ (1935), ‘I Met Him in Paris’ (1937), ‘True Confession’ (1937), and ‘Sing, You Sinners’ (1938).
  • With none of his films doing well at the box office, his career was in the decline during the 1940s. After making films like ‘Somewhere I'll Find You’(1942), ‘Slightly Dangerous’ (1943), and ‘See Here, Private Hargrove’ (1944), he produced and directed ‘London Town’ in 1946. The film was a major critical and commercial failure; it was the last film Ruggles directed.
Major Works
  • Wesley Ruggles is best known for the Western film ‘Cimarron’ starring Richard Dix and Irene Dunne. An extravagant production, it cost $1.4 million to produce it in 1931. The film was a critical success and became the first film to receive more than six Academy Awards nominations with three wins.
  • He also earned much acclaim for his romantic drama ‘No Man of Her Own’ which had Clark Gable and Carole Lombard appearing as a married couple in their only film together.
Awards & Achievements
  • Wesley Ruggles was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for the film ‘Cimarron’ which received more than six Academy Awards nominations and won the Best Picture Award.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Wesley Ruggles was married four times, with three of his marriages ending in divorce. His former spouses were Kathryn Crawford, Virginia Caldwell, and Arline Judge. His fourth and last marriage to Marcelle Rogez in 1940 lasted for more than three decades until his death.
  • He suffered a stroke and died on January 8, 1972.

See the events in life of Wesley Ruggles in Chronological Order

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Wesley Ruggles

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