How Being Bad at Math Led To Ruta Lee’s Star on the Walk of Fame

Written by: Rachel Goodman – October 28th, 2019, 6:43am PT

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Ruta Lee knows exactly what it’s like to get fired from a job for being bad at math. But unlike most of us, she’s got a Hollywood star right outside her old employer’s doorstep. 

Lee opened up on Popcorn Talk’s The Film Scene with Illeana Douglas and went into detail about her childhood job working for Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

“I was going to Hollywood High right around the corner, and during the summer I got a job,” Lee relayed to host Illeana Douglas. “I got a job as an usherette, and I was in my glory.”

Lee empathically recalled the memory, waving her hands as she spoke for the joy she had working for a theatre in general. 

“I could stand at the top of the aisle and watch the movie queens, Betty Grable, June Haver, uh, Mitzi Gaynor, Ethel Merman, doing their numbers on that screen,” Lee said. “I’d stand there and say, ‘Oh please God please, please, please let me do this. Let me do this someday.’”

Lee explained that while she loved her job as an usherette, people in other positions kept getting sick which led to two very quick promotions for her. Once to a candy girl, and then again to a cashier. Lee emphasized to her boss that she could not handle the math, and he ended up firing her because the register came back forty dollars short one night.

She remembers exactly how she responded to her boss in that moment.

“You’re gonna be sorry cause one of these days my hand and footprints are gonna be here, and I’ll show you!”

Fortunately for audiences everywhere, Lee was right. She’d go on to have an extensive career in film and television, including projects such as Witness for the Prosecution, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Rawhide, Hogan’s Heroes, and Bullet for a Badman. She was also featured in the game shows Hollywood Squares, What’s My Line?, and Match Game.

“Well, talk about God working in mysterious ways,” Lee added. “My star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is directly in front of the box office of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Ta da!”

Turns out, the equation for Lee’s perfect career just needed to start with some bad math.

For more, check out the interview with Lee on Popcorn Talk!

About The Author:

Rachel Goodman is a Los Angeles based actress, host, and writer originally from a suburb of Philadelphia, PA. In college, Rachel wrote for the Penn State Abington Literary Review and was an editorialist for The Lion’s Roar and The Montgomery County Ticket.

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