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Ruth Page Front Room No. 13 [March 27, 1985]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0514
Run Time
0h 21m 6s
Date Produced
March 27 1985
Q: You're not logical?
A: No. Why should I be?
Q: Do you admire people who are?
A: Yes. That's why I admire lawyers so much. They are taught to think logically. And they do, on the whole. I know a lot of lawyers. I've known a lot of lawyers all my life and being married to one for so long . . . . They really use their brains because their brains are trained. Mine aren't.
Q: Doesn't a choreographer need to use her brain?
A: Yes, of course. But not about ordinary things, you know. That's art. It has nothing to do with life.
Q: Ruth, recently you wrote a series of "What if?" questions, with very short answers. I wonder how you came up with some of the answers. For example: "What if your husband wants to divorce you? -- You should try to be more seductive, and maybe he'll stay."
A: That sounds very good. Don't you think that makes sense?
Q: Well, I guess I do. If your husband wants to divorce you, do you really believe that seductiveness is the major answer?
A: I don't know. My husband never wanted to divorce me, so I don't know what I think about that. He never suggested divorcing me. That's just a "What if?"
Q: Why do you suppose so many people get divorced nowadays?
A: They haven't got any sense, I think. They don't know how to live with somebody. You have to adjust yourself, I think, to somebody. You can't just do your own thing. You have to. I don't know, I think it's a great art to live with somebody, don't you? It's not easy.
Q: What's the secret?
A: Well, learn to adjust to somebody else. Just don't do your own thing all the time. Learn to live with somebody. You have to see what they like to do, be and go -- all that sort of thing.
Q: You and Tom had a long and happy marriage.
A: Yes, we did.
Q: What was there in your relationship that made it work? That's a long time.
A: Well, I think first of all, we adored each other, and he wanted me to do what I wanted to do, and I wanted him to do what he wanted to do. We didn't want to be tied down all the time, and we weren't. And I think that's why that was a success, that marriage.
Q: When you'd be away from each other, which you were for long periods of time -- you away touring, Tom in Texas for long periods of time -- how did you stay in touch? Did you write? Did you phone?
A: We wrote to each other all the time or telephoned. Yes, we stayed in touch with each other all the time.
Q: Every day?
A: Yes. Sure.
Q: Did absence make the heart grow fonder?
A: Oh, what a silly question! I don't know. I always adored Tom.
Q: Another Ruth Page "What if?" You wrote, "What if you loved two men at the same time? -- Give them both up."
A: That's a very good answer, I think. That's a marvelous answer.
Q: So do I. What do you mean by that?
A: Well, if you love two men, just give them both up. Just what I said. I think that's a very sensible idea.
Q: Solves the problem?
A: Yes. That's a complete answer.
Q: "What if you were sick?" is your question, and your answer is, "Try to logically cure yourself. A doctor can never help much."
A: That's true, I think. You can cure yourself.
Q: Logically?
A: Yes, I think so. I mean if you've got smallpox or something, I don't suppose you could, or some contagious disease. The little sicknesses you get, I think you can cure yourself of. Stay in bed a while. Eat the right food. Whatever.
Q: Have you ever worried much about your own health?
A: No. If I get sick, I take care of myself. I don't get sick very often. I'm much stronger now than when I was young.
Q: Really? You were sick more often then?
A: I was reading some old things the other day, and I seemed to always be getting sick with something or other. But now I'm stronger.
Q: Not serious things. You'd get sick with colds or flu.
A: Yes. I never get a cold anymore. I never get a cold. I don't know why. I'm not complaining. I don't ever get colds anymore.
Q: I don't get any colds because I don't believe in them. I think if you don't believe in them, you don't get them.
A: I don't know. It's awfully disagreeable if you do get one. But I haven't had a cold in years. I'll probably get one now.
Q: Now that you've said it, right. You also wrote, "What if you love the world and the world doesn't love you?" Your answer, "Try a few tricks."
A: Try a few tricks? Well, that's a good answer.
Q: What kind of tricks?
A: Well, read the question again. I think that's a very difficult situation to be in, don't you? And I don't know how. I couldn't answer that question. I really couldn't.
Q: Have you ever been in that situation?
A: Yes. The world doesn't love me at all, I don't think. They really don't. I don't know anybody who loves me.  
Q: You wrote, after Tom died, that the hardest thing about being a widow is getting used to the idea that nobody loves you.
A: That's true. That's a very good answer.
Q: What do you mean by that? That the sense of somebody loving you had gone out of your life?
A: Yes. It's hard not to have anybody that loves you in your life. I mean it's very hard. If you have been loved all your life and then all of a sudden he dies, what do you do? You can't find somebody else right away. It's too hard. And, you don't feel like it.
Q: What did you do right after Tom died?
A: Just what I always did.
Q: Work?
A: Yes. I had to find different people to go out with. That's difficult, I think. I can't go out alone at night. I'm scared to. And you have to find people who will go out with you; who like the same things that you do. That's not easy. In fact, it's very difficult.
Q: You couldn't have just continued with the same friends; the friends you had?
A: Well, yes, of course, but it's usually two people or you have to find a man to go out with . . . . Or find a woman to go out with, too, I suppose. You have to find somebody to go out with. I don't like to go out alone at night. I'm scared to.
Q: Ever since the muggings it's hard?
A: Yes.
Q: You know, things have changed now, and very often women feel comfortable going out with other women, or men and women both, but being part of "a couple." When Tom was alive, and now with André, you always felt that you were part of a couple. In other words, that you were a couple together and that was very important to you.
A: Tom and me? I never thought about it. Well, André was a very good friend of Tom's, too.
Q: You said that you asked André to marry you, and he said "Yes," right away.
A: Yes, it was very simple.
Q: You said you didn't know why you had asked him to marry you.
A: Well, I had always liked to be with him, and Solovy thought it was a very good idea, and he encouraged us to get married. He's a wonderful companion, and I adore him.
Q: How did your life change after you married André?
A: Well, André is one of those people that is very helpless. Tom was a practical man of the world, and André is an artist. So I had to be the practical person and take care of André, which isn't always too easy. But we get along, so far, very good. I'm knocking on wood.
Q: What do you do to take care of him? What kinds of things?
A: Well, I see that he gets his tickets for everything and I do all of that: get tickets for the plane or the theatre or wherever we're going to. I have to make all the arrangements. Tom used to always do that. I have to write all the letters now. André never writes any letters. I have to do it all. So, I'm the businesswoman. A wonderful businesswoman!
Q: Do you like being a businesswoman?
A: Not a bit. I preferred it when Tom took care of everything. I never even mailed a letter. I wrote letters and Tom stamped them and put the correct address on. André doesn't do anything like that. He doesn't know anybody's name. He doesn't know anybody's address. He doesn't know how to stamp a letter, I don't think. He's useless.
Q: You said that André doesn't like parties and people, and yet he goes.
A: That's true. He's always very conscientious, and he always makes himself be very attractive. I think he is when he goes to a party. He doesn't like to go to parties. He says he doesn't. But when I make him go, he comes across marvelously, I think. He's a very attractive man, I think.
Q: So do I.
A: He's a very unusual man. He knows so much. You can talk to him about any subject. . .
Q: History, philosophy . . . .
A: . . . books. He's read everything. He's been every place. A man of the world. I think he's a wonderful painter, too.
Q: I think so, too. He's different from Tom, though.
A: Entirely. Tom wasn't an artist at all. He was a lawyer. That's very different.
Q: But also a man of the world?
A: Oh, yes! Tom? I should say he was!
Q: There are reports you read about Tom . . . , some of the things that I've read indicate that Tom always knew what was happening behind the scenes, as well as the obvious things.
A: Yes, he knew a lot. I don't know how he found out everything, but he always knew everything about what he was doing, what was going on in the world. He thought about it, and he made sense, you know.
Q: He also had a sense of the intrigues that would go on in the world of ballet, too.
A: I guess he did.
Q: He liked the people in the ballet?
A: Oh, yes. Often, with André, he says, "Oh, don't you know anybody but dancers?" And it's true. When Tom died, I only knew dancers, really. And I like to go out with dancers. André likes dancers, too, but not all the time.
Q: You talked about entertaining for dancers, and talked about how when you were out on tour, and people would give parties for you and the rest of the people in the troupe, how it always annoyed you about the food that they served; how they don't feed them.
A: Well, the dancers are hungry. They don't eat any dinner. And if you go to a party afterwards, and they give you nothing but lemonade and cookies . . . . So, I just wrote in advance, "We'll come to your parties, if you feed the dancers. You've got to give them something substantial to eat." Then it was all right on both sides.
Q: You once gave a party for Margot Fonteyn in Chicago, where you served the food to the dancers first.
A: Yes. That's because our society friends don't care about eating at midnight, and they're not hungry and they just drink. So, we let them drink, and we let the dancers eat. It's as simple as that. Dancers don't drink very much.
Q: Do they eat a lot?
A: Yes, at the proper times. They eat after they dance. You can't eat before you dance. You don't eat any dinner. So they are hungry after the performance.
Q: What kind of food?
A: Anything -- turkey, ham, chicken -- whatever anybody else eats. They don't have any special things to eat. I don't know very many vegetarians. We had a man here the other night who was a vegetarian and he drove me crazy! Who was it? It was Alvin Ailey! He wouldn't eat anything! He ate some carrots for dinner. I thought it was a pretty uninteresting as a meal. We were all eating a wonderful meal, and he didn't eat any of it. He wouldn't eat any dessert. We had a lovely dessert. She [Carmen Rivas] makes good desserts. And we had veal, and he wouldn't eat that. He just ate some carrots.
Q: You've never followed any special diet?
A: No. I eat whatever I feel like. I don't eat much, but I eat regularly. Delfau likes to eat one good meal and then not eat for the rest of the day. I like three meals a day, but very small.
Q: You've never had any trouble with your weight?
A: No, I haven't. I'm about three pounds too heavy right now. I've got to stop eating for a few days.
Q: That's not much. You've never had to worry about it, Ruth, your weight?
A: No. I never thought about it.
Q: You're lucky. It strikes me in some ways that your marriage to André is similar to your marriage to Tom, in that you both afford each other the freedom to be separate.
A: That's true. That is very true. André can do whatever he pleases, and so can I. I like to stay in Chicago, because all my friends are here and my school is here and I love my apartment. But this is a terrible place for André because he can't stand the cold. There's something wrong with his chest and he can't go out in this weather. He likes to go to Marakesh, and I don't like to go there at all. It's a nice place, but there is nothing for me to do there. He can paint all day. But I don't have any dancers there; no studios. I can't do anything there, so I prefer to stay here.
Q: Do you think a lot of marriages suffer from too much togetherness?
A: Oh, sure. You shouldn't stay together all the time. You shouldn't be separated too much, also.
Q: Do you think you and Tom were separated too much?
A: No. We always got together for our vacations. We'd always take our vacations together. He'd come to see me wherever I was; I'd go to see him wherever he was. I didn't go down to Texas to see him, because he didn't want me to.
Q: Why not?
A: He said I wouldn't like it. He had to work very hard there, and the case was very boring, very tedious . . . .
Q: Just for the very end, tell us about what you're wearing.
A: Well, what am I wearing?
Q: The dress, the jewelry and where it comes from.
A: Well, this "jewelry" is an old necklace from The Merry Widow, from the corps de ballet, and so is the bracelet. And the dress I bought at, it's one of the St. Laurent boutique dresses, that's all. There's nothing to tell about it.
Q: The earrings?
A: I don't know where they came from. I hate to wear earrings. I don't like to wear earrings or rings. [Takes them off] It's so good to take them off. I just put them on because they look nice for television.
Q: You did. You look wonderful. The shoes. Where are the shoes from?
A: Oh, I'm very fussy about shoes. I like to have comfortable shoes. And it's very hard to get comfortable shoes, I think. So I don't wear high heels. This is about as high a heel as I wear. These are very comfortable because they are open toes. You have open toes, too. They are very comfortable, these shoes. But I find it difficult to get comfortable shoes. Very difficult. I think women are crazy, what they wear.
Q: High-heeled shoes?
A: Yes.
Q: Dumb.
A: Yes. It throws your whole body out. It's not only bad for your feet, it throws your whole body out of kilter. It throws your weight forward.
Q: You used to wear high-heeled shoes all the time, though, didn't you?
A: No. I wore them, but I never liked them much.
Q: Tell us about the shawl.
A: This came from Paris. My lawyer's wife got it for me and I love it. It's a nice red shawl. I love red. It's a pretty shawl, don't you think? I wear it all the time. He gives me wonderful presents though, always. He's very good at giving presents.
Q: Do you still have the shawl that Anna Pavlova gave you?
A: Yes. I have it in my closet. She gave me that when I was a kid. It's lovely. I don't wear it very often. I don't know why. It's a beautiful shawl, one of those conventional, what you think of as a Spanish shawl, sort of hand-colored with embroidered roses and things on it.
Q: It's one of your favorite possessions.
A: I suppose so.
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)