Ruth Nelson, a veteran stage and film actress most familiar to modern audiences through a series of mother roles--most recently as Robert De Niro's agonizing mother in the movie "Awakenings"--died Saturday in her New York City home.
Her daughter-in-law, Julie Cromwell, said the widow of film director John Cromwell was 87 when she died of the complications of a stroke and cancer.
Miss Nelson was the daughter of Eva Mudge, a renowned turn-of-the-century quick-change artist.
She attended Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles and went to New York City in the early 1920s where she studied at the Laboratory Theater.
From 1931 to 1941 she appeared with the Group Theater where such actors as Lee J. Cobb, Stella Adler, Franchot Tone and John Garfield honed their craft.
She came to Hollywood in the 1940s and made a string of movies for 20th Century Fox and other studios. She was featured in "The North Star," "None Shall Escape," "The Eve of St. Mark," "The Keys of the Kingdom," "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and "Humoresque."
In the 1950s she returned to the stage and appeared in Truman Capote's "The Grass Harp" and in the national company of Eugene O'Neill's "A Long Day's Journey Into Night."