From the Times Online:
The life of the actress Ruth Ford might aptly be called Upper West Side Story. During her long residence in the Dakota building near Central Park, New York in 72nd Street she created a fabled salon. Among its denizens were Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents, whose encounter there led, thanks to a chance remark, to collaboration with Leonard Bernstein on his musical about romance amid the city’s street life.
She studied philosophy for five years at the University of Mississippi and became lifelong friends with William Faulkner. On visiting her brother in New York, however, she realised that, rather than continue in the South, she too would thrive in a more cosmopolitan world. She turned her looks to modelling in New York, caught by the lenses of such people as Man Ray and Cecil Beaton before she joined Orson Welles’s fabled Mercury Theater troupe later in the Thirties.