Orphaned at an early age after her mother committed suicide and her father died in a mental institution, Ms. Rutherford was raised by her maiden aunt, and later taught music and elocution before attending drama school. In her later life, Rutherford suffered from serious bouts of depression requiring electroshock therapy.
Although the Marple films made Rutherford financially independent, she dismissed the films as eccentric and over-the-top, not worthy of Christie's Miss Marple.
After her death in 1972 from Alzheimer's disease, it was disclosed that Rutherford had been a victim of a crime worthy of its own Christie novel. The case involved Rutherford's live-in companion, the disappearance of her Oscar, and the sale of her personal valuables.
Known for her generosity and compassion, Rutherford employed a down on her luck opera singer, Violet Davis. Rutherford was already suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's and could no longer work professionally or manage her personal affairs. Ms. Davis sold off the actor's possessions, including Rutherford's Oscar, Golden Globe, jewels, and silver. Although arrested, Ms. Davis skipped trial and was never seen again. The Rutherford case is still open, and the Oscar still missing.