Oscar Directors: Ruggles, Wesley–Background, Career, Awards

Wesley Ruggles Career Summary:

Occup. Inheritance: brother of actor

Acting Debut: 1915; age 26

First Film: 1917; age 28

First Nomination: Cimarron, 1931; age 42

Last Film: London Town, 1946; age 57

Marriage: 3 marriages; 2 divorces


Death: 1972; age 82

Born in Los Angeles on June 11, 1889, Wesley Ruggles is the younger brother of actor Charles Ruggles.

He began his career in 1915 as an actor, appearing in a dozen or so silent films, on occasion with Charles Chaplin.

In 1917, he turned his attention to directing, making more than 50 films, including a silent film version of Edith Wharton’s novel “The Age of Innocence” (1924).

Cimarron: Best Director Nomination

He won acclaim with Cimarron in 1931, for which he received hs first and only Best Director Oscar nomination. The adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel Cimarron, about homesteaders settling in the prairies of Oklahoma, was the first Western to win an Academy Award as Best Picture.


Ruggles followed this success with the light comedy “No Man of Her Own” (1932) with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, the comedy “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.

But few of his later films were memorable, with the possible exception of    “Arizona.”

London Town (1946)

His career was on the downslide when he teamed with the Rank in 1946 to produce and direct “London Town,” with Sid Field and Petula Clark, based on a story he wrote.  His first attempt at a Technicolor musical extravaganza became one of the biggest critical and commercial failures in the U.K. film history. Ironically, Ruggles had been hired to helm it because as an American, it was thought, he was better equipped to handle a musical, though nothing in his past had prepared him to work in the genre.

It was his last film. An abridged version was released in the U.S. under the title My Heart Goes Crazy by United Artists in 1953.

Ruggles died on January 8, 1972 in Santa Monica at the age of 82.

Oscar Record

Ruggles was nominated just once for Best Director Oscar, for “Cimarron,” which won the Best Picture.  The winning director, however, was Frank Borzage for “Bad Girl.”


Filmography as Director

London Town (1946)
See Here, Private Hargrove (1944)
Slightly Dangerous (1943)
Somewhere I’ll Find You (1942)
You Belong to Me (1941)
Arizona (1940)
Too Many Husbands (1940)
Invitation to Happiness (1939)
Sing, You Sinners (1938)
True Confession (1937)
I Met Him in Paris (1937)
Valiant Is the Word for Carrie (1936)
The Bride Comes Home (1935)
Accent on Youth (1935)
Mississippi (1935, fill-in director – uncredited)
The Gilded Lily (1935)
Shoot the Works (1934)
Bolero (1934)
I’m No Angel (1933)
College Humor (1933)
The Monkey’s Paw (1933)
No Man of Her Own (1932)
Roar of the Dragon (1932)
Are These Our Children? (1931)
Cimarron (1931)
The Sea Bat (1930, replaced during production: Lionel Barrymore, uncredited)
Honey (1930)
Condemned (1929)
Street Girl (1929, uncredited)
Port of Dreams (1929)
Scandal (1929)
Finders Keepers (1928)
The Fourflusher (1928)
Silk Stockings (1927)
Beware of Widows (1927)

Breaking Records (1927, Short)
Flashing Oars (1927, Short)
The Cinder Path (1927, Short)
The Relay (1927, Short)
Around the Bases (1927, Short)
The Last Lap (1926, Short)
The Collegians (1926, Short)
A Man of Quality (1926)
The Kick-Off (1926)
Hooked at the Altar (1926, Short)
California Here We Come (1926, Short)
The Plastic Age (1925)
Broadway Lady (1925)
Miss Me Again (1925, Short)
Don Coo Coo (1925, Short)
Barbara Snitches (1925, Short)
What Price Gloria? (1925, Short)
The Merry Kiddo (1925, Short)
Three Bases East (1925, Short)
Madam Sans Gin (1925, Short)
The Covered Flagon (1925, Short)
The Fast Male (1925, Short)
The Great Decide (1925, Short)
Merton of the Goofies (1925, Short)
He Who Gets Rapped (1925, Short)
The Pacemakers (1925, Short)
Welcome Granger (1925, Short)
The Age of Innocence (1924)
Slippy McGee (1923)
The Heart Raider (1923)
The Remittance Woman (1923)
Mr. Billings Spends His Dime (1923)
If I Were Queen (1922)
Wild Honey (1922)
Over the Wire (1921)
Uncharted Seas (1921)
The Greater Claim (1921)
Love (1920)
The Leopard Woman (1920)
The Desperate Hero (1920)
Sooner or Later (1920)
Piccadilly Jim (1919)
The Winchester Woman (1919)
The Blind Adventure (1918, as Wesley H. Ruggles)
He Had to Camouflage (1917, Short)
Bobby’s Bravery (1917, Short)
For France (1917, as Wesley H. Ruggles)
Bobby, Movie Director (1917, Short)