Friday, March 12, 2004

Ruby W. Rapp, 90, radio, TV personality

Singer helped start Reds' fan club

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Anderson, Ind., native Ruby Wright Rapp was already enrolled at Indiana University when she received a phone call from two girlfriends. They convinced her to join them to form a singing trio. For $10 a week plus room and board, she and her pals, the Call Sisters, began singing at Lake Manitou, a northern Indiana resort famous for its big-band dance music.

It was 1930 and this was her first job out of high school. Forget about college - she was on her way to becoming a popular personality in Cincinnati radio and television and, later, the travel business.

Mrs. Rapp died Tuesday at Jewish Hospital. The Blue Ash resident was 90.

After the stint in Lake Manitou, she and the trio joined Charlie Davis' orchestra in Milwaukee. They then traveled to Chicago, where the group broke up. As Ruby Wright, she sang for other bands in Chicago and New York before she met Barney Rapp, the leader of Barney Rapp's New Englanders orchestra, in New York. They married in 1936 and toured with the orchestra all over the country in the 1930s.

They played in numerous venues, including Cincinnati's Sheraton-Gibson Hotel downtown, the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, the Lookout House in Fort Wright and Coney Island's Moonlite Gardens. They decided to stay and open their own nightclub, The Sign of the Drum on Reading Road in Bond Hill.

When Mrs. Rapp became pregnant, she was replaced by a young singer, Doris Kappelhoff, whom Mr. Rapp convinced to change her name to Doris Day. Mrs. Rapp stayed at home for several years to raise four daughters.

She joined the WLW Radio and WLWT-TV stations in 1952 as a featured vocalist and appeared on the Al Morgan Show, Moon River and other programs. She had her own radio and TV show, the Dixieland Limited show in the early 1950s. She appeared on the Ruth Lyons 50-50 Club and continued with the Bob Braun Show when Ruth Lyons retired in 1967.

Mrs. Rapp was also a songwriter and recording artist. She recorded with King Records, and her hits included, "Let's Light the Christmas Tree," "Christmas is a Birthday Time," "Thanks for the Buggy Ride," "Bimbo" and "Poor Butterfly." She won a British recording award for her vocal "The Three Stars."

In September of 1956, the Rapps started the Reds' Rooters Fan Club. Mrs. Rapp also became a member and trustee of the Rosie Reds, a women's nonprofit organization that is a Reds' fan club and fund-raising organization.

Mrs. Rapp retired from television in 1969 after 16 years with WLW. Her husband passed away in 1970. She took over the leadership of the Barney Rapp Agency and the Reds' Rooters. In 1976, she created the Barney Rapp Travel agency and traveled with its tours. She retired from the agency in 1991.

Survivors include four daughters, Susie Reisenfeld of Amberley Village, Patty Nulsen and Cindy Hoeffel of Madeira, and Nancy Farasey of Kenwood; 11 grandchildren; and 11 great grandchildren.

Visitation: 11:30 a.m. today at the Norman Chapel at Spring Grove Cemetery, 4521 Spring Grove Ave., Winton Place, with the funeral service at 1 p.m.

Memorials may be made to the charity of one's choice.


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