Ruth Etting (November 23, 1896 - September 24, 1978) was an American singing star of the 1930s, who had over sixty hit recordings.
Her signature tunes were "Shine On Harvest Moon", "Ten Cents a Dance" and "Love Me or Leave Me", and her other popular recordings included "Button Up Your Overcoat", "Mean to Me", and "Shaking the Blues Away".
Born in David City, Nebraska, she left home at age seventeen to attend art school in Chicago. Her job designing costumes at the Marigold Gardens nightclub led to employment singing and dancing in the chorus there.
She became a featured vocalist at the nightclub and married gangster Martin "Moe the Gimp" Snyder on July 12, 1922. He managed her career, booking radio appearances, and eventually had her signed to an exclusive recording contract with Columbia Records.
She made her Broadway debut in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927, and appeared in a number of other hit shows in rapid succession, including Simple Simon and Whoopee!.
In Hollywood she made a long series of movie shorts between 1929 and 1936, and three feature movies in 1933 and 1934. In 1936, She appeared in London in Ray Henderson's Transatlantic Rhythm.
In 1937 she fell in love with her pianist, Myrl Alderman, who was consequently shot by her husband, Moe Snyder - but survived. Snyder was jailed for the assault, and Etting divorced him on November 30, 1937. She married Alderman in December 1938.
The scandal effectively ended her career, though she briefly had a radio show in 1947. Alderman died on November 16, 1966.
Etting died in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1978, aged 81.
Her life was the basis for the 1955 film Love Me or Leave Me, which starred Doris Day and Jimmy Cagney.