Once known as the “Dresden china doll of the musical comedy stage,” Ritchie was born in Philadelphia in 1877. In 1893, she made her first public appearance in the light opera, The Algerian. Leading roles in other operas ensued, followed by a stint in vaudeville. On November 3, 1916, the recently divorced actress married stage actor Guy Bates Post in Toronto shortly before his matinee performance as the lead in Omar the Tentmaker. After the marriage, Ritchie all but retired from the theatre although she did America’s World War I recruiting effort by singing patriotic songs in vaudeville in 1917. The couple divorced in 1929 and the 52-year-old actress relocated to the exclusive artist colony of Laguna Beach, California where she directed plays for the Community Playhouse. There, Ritchie became close friends with Doris Murray Palmer, dubbed the “most beautiful woman in Laguna Beach,” a wealthy divorcee some twenty years her junior. The pair was inseparable companions until Palmer’s popularity in the community’s closely knit social circle began to eclipse that of Ritchie’s. A past collaborator with Ritchie in the Community Playhouse, Palmer had designed all the stage settings and scenery for the theatre’s latest offering, The Lady from Memphis, and was set to direct alone.