This Local Musician’s Dress Still Makes Jaws Drop

The late Ruby Wright’s cocktail dress is still a showstopper.

Ruby Wright performed with the first lady of Midwestern broadcasting, Ruth Lyons, on the The 50/50 Club for nearly 20 years. The WLWT-TV program brought national renown to both Wright and the Queen City when the show began broadcasting across all 48 states in 1951.

When The 50/50 Club first aired in color (in August 1957), viewers would flock to televisions at hair salons, pubs, and department store displays to catch a glimpse of Lyons and her performers, including Wright, dazzling in vivid hues. This dress, with pearlized beading and sleek ivory satin, was a real showstopper—almost literally. It was an early showbiz myth that performers couldn’t wear white on color television.

The late Ruby Wright’s cocktail dress is still a showstopper.

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

In addition to her work in television, Wright recorded with King Records and may have inadvertently given Doris Day her first big break.

Although Wright recorded with King Records for 10 years, her most successful song was for another local label, Fraternity Records. “Let’s Light the Christmas Tree” sold 250,000 copies in 1958. It was when Wright was expecting her first child that husband Barney Rapp had to find a substitute female vocalist. Rapp saw potential in a young Cincinnati singer, Doris Kappelhoff, suggesting that she change her surname to Day to fit the theater marquee.

Deep in the enchanting, inventory-packed aisles of Reading’s vintage and costume emporium Talk of the Town, this little piece of music history reminds us of a bygone era.

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