Ruth Brown's Hairspray dress

Courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

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Ruth Brown's Hairspray Dress, 1988
Ruth Brown, the singer and actress who played Motormouth Maybelle in the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray, wore this dress onscreen.

More about Ruth
Atlantic Records was often called "the House that Ruth built," owing to the fact that Ruth made the Billboard charts 24 times during the '50s. Born in Virginia, Ruth signed with Atlantic in 1948. She gave the fledgling company its second-ever hit with "So Long," a simple, bluesy showcase for her torchy, church- and jazz-schooled voice. "Teardrops from My Eyes," her second R&B hit, brought out her more swaggering, aggressive side, and she was rewarded with her first number one R&B hit. For the duration of the '50s, Ruth dominated the R&B charts and even crossed over into rock and roll with some success.