Ruby Richards (Primary Title)
Ruby Richards (1917–1997) began her career as a chorus girl at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club in New York. Wearing long feathered gowns and high-heeled shoes, she danced to the jazz music of Jimmie Lunceford and his orchestra, the club’s house band. In 1938, she moved to Paris to replace Josephine Baker, who had recently retired from the Folies Bergère after marrying a wealthy French businessman. Richards admired Baker, “but I don’t try to imitate her,” she explained to Ebony magazine in 1953. “I think everybody should be original.” Richards’s performances at the Folies Bergère featured elaborate costumes, including the headdress seen in this portrait. Man Ray appears to have caught her between acts, wrapped in a silk robe encrusted with sequins.
Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.