RUTH ELLIS: THE LAST TO HANG
The Mad Dentist
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
George Johnson Ellis was born on October 2nd, 1909 in Manchester, in the north of England. He and his brother Ted, both trained to become dentists. George was also a gifted piano player, who could perform at will, playing almost any tune by ear. He married, and he and his wife, Vera, had two sons. Their marriage was, however, an unhappy affair; his frequent drinking bouts and violent temper eventually drove his wife away. He returned home one day to his house in Sanderstead, Surrey, to find Vera had cleaned it out and left with her children and all the household furnishings.
George spent ever-increasing amounts of his time frequenting bars and drinking clubs in London and one day at the Court Club, he met up with Ruth. She had heard about him from some of the other hostesses, who referred to him as the mad dentist. He spent money lavishly, and spun wild tales about himself and his exploits. One night in June 1950, Ellis was pestering Ruth to spend the evening with him. She and another club hostess had planned to go out partying that night with a good looking American Army sergeant called Hank, and so to get rid of Ellis, she agreed to meet up with him later that night at the Hollywood, another club owned by Conley.
She never kept the appointment and the next day discovered that George had been attacked outside the Hollywood. He had been making a fool of himself with a woman, who turned out to be with a group of East End villains. One of them, a thug from Bethnal Green, attacked George and slashed his face with a razor. He was rushed to St. Marys Hospital in Paddington for emergency surgery. When he eventually turned up at the Court Club, his face stitched up, wearing dark glasses and a hangdog expression on his face, Ruth was overcome with remorse for tricking Ellis into going to the Hollywood. She agreed to go out for dinner with him.
They were chauffeur driven to Georges golf club at Purley Downs, and after a long nights wining and dining, Ruth woke up in bed at the Ellis house in Sanderstead. It was the start of a whirlwind courtship, as George took Ruth under his wing. They ate and drank at the best places and he showered her with gifts. She slowly came under his spell, seeing him from a different perspective. He was intelligent, musical, held a private pilots licence (a rare achievement at this time), and was warm and humorous. At least, as long as he was not sinking back the gin and tonics. Then he was quite different. Perhaps if she could wean him off his alcoholic dependency, he might just be the man to satisfy her yearning for respectability and security. Andy was now six years old, living between his grandparents in Brixton and his Aunt Muriel. He needed stability in his young life and Ruth was going to try hard to find it for him and herself.
She and George went off on holiday for three months to Cornwall, and when they returned to London, they moved into the Sanderstead property. George, however, was still hitting the bottle in a big way and, after many noisy fights, he agreed to admit himself into Warlingham Park Hospital in Surrey to be treated for alcoholism. After his release, he and Ruth decided to get married and on November 8th, 1950, they did at the Registry Office in Tonbridge, Kent.
George found work with a dental practice in Southampton on the Hampshire coast and they moved south early in 1951, taking up residence in a village called Warash. However, the cure George had taken at Warlingham, proved as transient as his other attempts at kicking his habit, and after a few weeks on the wagon he was a regular at the local pub, often drinking himself insensible. Soon, he and Ruth were fighting again at home and in public. After one bitter and brutal confrontation, Ruth packed her bags and went home to her parents. Predictably, after only two days, she returned to George.
Their love-hate relationship continued, but now there was a new ingredient added. Ruth became obsessed with jealousy, believing that George was not only drinking, but also womanising. During one particularly mean and acrimonious confrontation, he beat her badly. She continued to leave and return, but things were not getting any better. The police were now being called out to deal with them. On one occasion, George kicked in the front door of their house after Ruth had locked him out. Their verbal abuse of each other reached a peak when she called him a drunken old has-been from a lunatic asylum and George, in return, dubbed her a bloody bitch from Brixton.
In May 1951, George was fired from the dental practice. Morgan, the owner, had suffered him long enough. Ruth and her husband travelled to Wales to stay awhile with his mother. In due course, George found work at another dental practice in Cornwall and travelled down there, while Ruth, yet again, went home to stay with her parents. She had discovered she was pregnant, and so tried again to reconcile with her husband. She went to stay with him in Torquay where he was working, but their time together was, as usual, filled with bitterness and stormy, drink-fuelled scenes. Finally in May, George re-admitted himself into the hospital for further detoxification treatment.
Ruth visited him here frequently, but again, developed a phobia that George was having improper relationships with the staff and female patients. On one occasion, she became so inflamed, ranting and raving and screaming in coarse, uncouth language, she had to be forcibly restrained and sedated. Dr Rees, a psychiatrist who was looking after George, prescribed drugs for Ruth and from that point on until the day she killed David Blakley, she was under his care. It has always remained a mystery why her defence counsel at her trial did not call him to give evidence of her state of mind, and that fact that the legally prescribed sedatives, combined with alcohol, could have made her incapable of rational behaviour at the time she fired the fatal shots.
On October 2nd, 1951 at Dulwich Hospital, London, Ruth gave birth to a 7lb girl, who would be called Georgina. The fathers address on the birth certificate was shown as 7, Herne Hill Road, Lambeth, London, SE 24. This was the home of Ruths parents. George was in fact still in residence in the hospital at Warlingham. He checked out of here after the baby was born and moved north to settle in Warrington, Lancashire. Here, he found himself a job as a schools dental officer with the local Health Authority. Less than a year after their marriage, he filed a petition for divorce on the grounds of cruelty. Ruth was now twenty-five years old and had two children to support. She was no better off financially than she had been almost ten years ago when she had started work as a waitress in Reading.
In urgent need to find some way to generate income, she turned to Maurie Conley. He welcomed her back with open arms and Ruth was soon operating in her old environment. She was back at the Court Club, only now it was known as Carolls. There were at least three more men to enter her life and have a profound impact on her. One of them would pay dearly for his association with Ruth Ellis.