Ruth Gilbert, whose breathy plea to Milton Berle to "Let's not fight this, Mil-l-ton, it's bigger than both of us," became a favored American phrase during the early days of TV, is dead. The successful stage actress whose early dramatic career was assured by playwright Eugene O'Neill, was 71 when she died of brain cancer in New York City on Tuesday.
A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts who made her Broadway debut in 1932 in "Girls in Uniform," she became best known as Max, the lovesick, scatterbrained secretary on "The Milton Berle Show" during the 1950s.
After her New York run in "Girls in Uniform," O'Neill put her in his 1933 "Ah, Wilderness," which featured George M. Cohan.
Later, she was on stage as the streetwalker in O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh" and as Sadie in John Howard Lawson's "Processional."
She also was featured in "Detective Story," which ran on Broadway in 1949.
In 1944 she was heard on radio in Norman Corwin's "Columbia Presents Corwin," a drama series.
In 1954, at the height of her success on the Berle show, she and the producers of the nation's favorite comedy series got into a legal squabble after she was fired for becoming pregnant.
The dispute was resolved by arbitration and she returned to the program after the birth of a daughter. She also is survived by her husband, Emanuel Feinberg, two grandchildren and a brother.