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Ruth Aarons

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Full name
Ruth Hughes Aarons

June 6, 1980

Ruth Aarons

Playing style
Shakehand grip

United States

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June 11, 1918Stamford, Connecticut (

Ruth Hughes Aarons (June 11, 1918 – June 6, 1980) was a US table tennis player, vaudeville entertainer, and talent manager.


Early life

Ruth Aarons was born in Stamford, Connecticut to Leila (née Hughes), an opera singer, and Alfred E. Aarons, a Broadway theatrical producer. She came from a wealthy Jewish family, and lived in New York City, where she attended and graduated from St. Agatha Episcopal High School in 1936.

Table tennis career

Originally a tennis player, Aarons was reportedly introduced to table tennis by mere chance, in the summer of 1933. During a rainstorm, which ended a tennis match early, she discovered and quickly became fascinated by table tennis. Over time, Aarons developed and mastered her own defensive technique centered on the "shakehand" grip, for which she became notable.

Aarons would spend the next five years traveling the United States and Europe, competing in various table tennis matches and championships, and enjoying much success, eventually building a reputation as a strong defensive player. Her main achievements were winning two gold medals in the singles competition at the World Table Tennis Championships in 1936 and 1937, being the only American competitor to do so at the time. She also won doubles and team medals for the United States in the World Table Tennis Championships. Upon winning the gold medal in Prague in 1936, Aarons refused to shake the hand of Astrid Krebsbach, her opponent from Nazi Germany, proclaiming: "I am Jewish".

The champion of Woman's Singles in 1937 was declared vacant due to time limit rule in force at the time. In 2001, it was decided to declare the two players (i.e., Ruth Aarons and Gertrude Pritzi) Co-Champions.

While still involved in professional table tennis, Aarons, thanks to her father's theatrical connections, performed in vaudeville for several years, in both America and England, in a routine centered on the game. These performances enjoyed much success in the United States, as the United States Table Tennis Association (USATT) had granted her permission as an active member, to play the game for compensation. In England, however, Aarons faced sanctions by the English Table Tennis Association (ETTA), who had jurisdiction over her USATT-made performance contracts for shows in England, and eventual suspension by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in January 1937. Officials claimed that Aarons violated the newly enacted (December 1936) policy prohibiting active members from accepting compensation for public table tennis playing. Aarons would later come back for the 1937 Women's World Singles Championships, and then retire altogether.

In 1966, Aarons was inducted in the USATT Hall of Fame for her contributions to and success in the sport of table tennis.

Later years

After her retirement from table tennis in 1938, Aarons found much success as a show business manager, forming her own management firm (Aarons Management), and guiding to success the careers of clientele including Jack Cassidy, Shirley Jones, David Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, Susan Dey, George Chakiris, Janis Paige, Claibe Richardson, and Celeste Holm.

Later in life, Aarons developed an addiction to prescription medication, particularly Seconal. According to close friend David Cassidy, he would discover thousands of pills in her home while visiting. The medication eventually took its toll physically and psychologically, exacerbated greatly by the tragic death of longtime friend and actor Jack Cassidy in December 1976. By 1979, all her clients had lost faith in her capability as a manager and moved on.

On June 6, 1980, just five days before her 62nd birthday, Aarons was found dead in the shower of her Beverly Hills home, presumably from falling and hitting her head. According to Cassidy, her drug use was so profound that her muscles often atrophied, which rendered her unable to leave her bed, much less to stand.


Ruth Aarons Wikipedia

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