Ruth Marx, whose singing voice was heard on classic TV commercial jingles that likely reached as many ears as the pop songs of her famous son Richard Marx, died of lung cancer at her home in California on Aug. 24. She was 85.
Her death was announced to the Chicago Sun Times by son Richard. In a Facebook post, he also wrote, in part, “My heart is in a million pieces and I will love you with every breath of my life remaining.”
Among Ruth Marx’s most familiar vocal performances was the jingle for Chicken of the Sea tuna: “Ask any mermaid you happen to see, what’s the best tuna? Chicken of the Sea!”
The tuna jingle, as with other commercial songs on which she lent her voice, was written by her husband, the composer and arranger Dick Marx. Among the pair’s other collaborations: “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” for Virginia Slims, Doublemint’s “Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun,” and “Two Scoops Of Raisins In a Package of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran,” among others. In the 1970s, she sang the lilting “Reach Out For Quasar” in commercials for the electronics company.
Born in Ohio, Marx became a Big Band vocalist as a teenager, later moving to Chicago and taking singing lessons from vocal coach Dick Marx. The two would marry in 1961, and eventually moved from Chicago to California.
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Richard Marx achieved musical stardom in the 1980s with a string of hits including “Don’t Mean Nothing,” “Should’ve Known Better” and, in 1988, the #1 “Hold On to the Nights.” According to the Chicago Sun Times, Ruth Marx operated her son’s fan club and sang backing vocals on his 1991 song “Streets of Pain.” Dick Marx, who composed and arranged jazz music as well as jingles, wrote music for Tom Hanks’ 1992 film A League of Their Own; he died in 1997.