Ruth Ratny, chronicler of the Chicago film industry

Ruth Ratny, 1987

“Screen was the Bible of the Chicago film industry, and Ruth was, well, Ruth was Ruth.”–Scott Jacobs. Photo from 1987 courtesy The Polaroid Wall.

It might sound trite to say Ruth Ratny was a force of nature.
Like the Chicago wind, she was forceful and persistent.
Ruth Louise Ratny died in her sleep last Tuesday, February 21.
She was in her 80’s and lived her whole life in Chicago.

Ruth was the queen of all media in Chicago — film, television and advertising — for nearly 40 years, the founder/editor/publisher and writer of the weekly Screen Magazine in print, then the online ReelChicago from 2004 until the week before her death.

She might not have always kept the facts or nuances exactly right, but she never stopped trying.
She told the stories of literally thousands of people, events and some gossip.

I knew her since the mid-60’s when she was involved in film production. Her best friend was my dear friend Larry Kirshbaum’s mother, Dolly. Ruthie had a good heart.

I’ll miss her….as will hundreds of others. RIP.

Here’s an email she wrote me ten days before her death, referring to Scott Jacobs, creator of the remarkable Polaroid Wall:

I love the fact that the only thing changed about Scott is his hair color.
The rest is frozen in time. As I wish I were.

I had a heart attack last June and it’s a daily challenge working to get my mojo back. But I’m good for a lot more years, my physician convinces, but not to be spent bent over a computer writing the Reel. I’m aiming to write several screenplays and my memoire (the formative years — when and why this little Jewish maidchen, whose grandfather was president of his synagogue was raised a Christian – a more interesting and important tale than the ordinary later sexy years, although the later years could follow in Vol. 2).

I think she will get her wish and be frozen in time.

Tom Weinberg

For the full tribute to Ruth, see



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