Ruth Sobotka (Ruth A. Sobotka)

Ruth Sobotka

The daughter of prominent Austrian architect and interior designer, Walter Sobotka (1888–1972) and Viennese actress, Gisela Schönau, Ruth Sobotka immigrated to the United States from Vienna with her parents in 1938. She studied set design at The University of Pennsylvania and graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After studying at the School of American Ballet, Sobotka became a member of George Balanchine’s Ballet Society (1946–1948) and its successor the New York City Ballet from 1949 to 1961. She also designed the costumes for and danced in the Jerome Robbins’ controversial ballet The Cage (1951) and played Robbins’ wife in Tyl Eulenspiegel (1951).  She appeared in many successful Balanchine ballets including The Four Temperaments (1946); Serenade, Apollo, Symphony in C (1946); Swan Lake (pas de quatre) (1951); Concerto Barocco, The Nutcracker (1954); Ivesiana (1954); Agon (1957); and The Figure in the Carpet (1961). Sobotka also danced in James Waring’s company and for major American choreographers and designed costumes for works by Paul Taylor, Erick Hawkins, and John Taras. She danced on Broadway in the musicals Sadie Thompson (1944) and the Balanchine revival of On Your Toes (1954).

A young Sobotka appeared as “The Girl” in Man Ray’s segment “Ruth, Roses and Revolvers” in the groundbreaking avant-garde film by Hans Richter, Dreams That Money Can Buy (1946). Sobotka was the second wife of film director Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999). She and Kubrick met in 1952; they married in January 1955; separated in 1958, and divorced in 1961. She appeared in a cameo role of the ballerina “Iris” in Kubrick’s Killer’s Kiss (1954), and served as art director on the sets of Killer’s Kiss and Kubrick’s subsequent feature, The Killing (1956).  After her resignation from the New York City Ballet in 1961, Sobotka choreographed for the American Shakespeare Festival in Stamford, Connecticut and studied acting under Herbert Berghof, Uta Hagen and later Lee Strasberg at The Actor’s Studio. She appeared in a number of Off-Broadway productions and was a member of the Seattle Repertory Theatre during their first season in 1963, playing Cordelia in King Lear.  Ruth Sobotka died after a brief illness in 1967 in New York City, aged 41.

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  • September, 04, 1925
  • Vienna, Austria


  • June, 17, 1967
  • USA
  • New York, New York

Cause of Death

  • brief illness

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