Ruth Warrick on Family: ‘It Takes Work to Keep a Family Together’
By Movieguide® Staff
Note: This story is part of our Faith in Hollywood series. For similar stories, click here.
Singer, actress and activist Ruth Warrick is best known for her role as Phoebe Tyler Wallingford on ALL MY CHILDREN, which she starred in from 1970 until her death in 2005.
Warrick also starred in other popular TV shows and movies like LOVE BOAT and CITIZEN KANE. Despite her fame in the entertainment industry, Warrick’s career never blinded her to the blessing and importance of family.
“Every year Mother arranged family reunions. With the entire clan gathered at our house, she lit the candles and said a ritual Hebrew prayer over the freshly baked challah. Then she launched into a short, fervent sermon of sorts that over the years all of us came to know by heart,” Warrick recalled in 1998. “‘I want you to remember that you must be good to each other. You must take care of one another in times of need. Wherever I am, I’ll have my eye on you.’ I believed her. When we were little, Mother always seemed to know what we were up to, even if there were walls between us.”
The impact that Warrick’s mother had on her four children motivated them to keep up her tradition after she died.
Although the Warricks continued to grow their families and reunite, the actress remembers that not everyone was on good terms.
“Although we’re close, we have our conflicts. I was especially worried about my brother’s wife, Gina. She’s on the sensitive side, and we always seemed to rub each other the wrong way,” Warrick said.
Before one of their family reunions, Gina asked if she would like to attend dinner.
“I thought about all the last-minute errands I had to do and I said, ‘I don’t have time. I’ll just see you at the airport the day after.’ Gina hung up. As usual, she had taken my refusal personally. Doesn’t she understand how busy I am?”
She continued: “That night I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about Gina. Her being upset would upset my brother, which would send the whole family into an uproar. What can I do? I prayed. I don’t want our disagreement to ruin the reunion for everyone.
“A clear, sharp ticking interrupted my thoughts. It sounded like a clock. But mine was digital. I sat up in bed and listened closely. It was unmistakable: The sound was coming from the tiny porcelain timepiece at my bedside. Mother’s clock. Incredibly, it was working again!”
Warrick remembered her mother’s words: “You must be good to each other…You must take care of one another.”
From that night on, Warrick promised to mend her relationship with Gina. But she could not explain the ticking of the clock.
“The reunion turned out to be happy for everyone. Gina and I made up, and on the flight back we sat next to each other and talked all the way home,” she said. “Several weeks later, I took the clock to a jeweler. ‘It hadn’t worked in years,’ I explained. ‘Then it started ticking mysteriously—but just for one night.’
“He inspected it carefully, then told me, ‘Ma’am, you must have heard something else. These parts haven’t moved in years. You’d have to replace the entire works to get it going again.’ ‘Thank you,’ I replied, putting the clock in my handbag. ‘I’d rather keep it as it is.’ A reminder that it takes work to keep a family together,” she concluded.