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A jewel of a reunion
Ruby in Forsyth Park

JIM HOLLOWAY and Billy Steedley have been business partners for all but two of the last 25 years, ever since they became friends while in “hair school.” In a quarter century these in-demand Savannah hair stylists have collected a cadre of devoted clients. Some clients who’ve moved out of town arrange their visits back to Savannah to coincide with appointments with Holloway or Steedley.

Often, the line between client and friend gets blurred. The relationship of Holloway, Steedley and Ruby Gettinger is one of those situations.

It began as a friendship, in the early 1990s, when all three were part of a group that “hung out” together, says Steedley. That was before Ruby left Savannah for California, worked at the studio of celebrity exercise maestro Billy Blanks, Jr. and became friends with actress Brittany Daniel (star of the “Sweet Valley High” television show).

For most of her life, Ruby has battled obesity, at one point weighing nearly 700 pounds. More recently, at 486 pounds and diagnosed with diabetes, Ruby was told that she would die if she didn’t lose weight. Her story is being told in “Ruby,” a nine-episode reality TV show that premieres Sunday on the Style Network. Daniel is an executive producer on the show.

So far Ruby has lost 90 pounds, says Steedley. She’s on a carefully monitored exercise program and food plan, supplemented by the encouragement of her friends, including some she’s known for decades.

About 17 years ago, Ruby and another friend “had met Jim and they all had a crush on him,” says Steedley. “As Ruby said, they stalked him. We saw each other a lot.”

Although Holloway and Steedley were in touch with Ruby less often after her move west, taping for “Ruby” has brought them back together. Steedley says “She’s no different” now than she was back then. “Besides maturing, she’s the same person. Loving. Caring. Funny. A heart of gold.”

That spirit is evident in clips from the Savannah tapings that can be seen on the show’s promotional website. Ruby’s tour of Savannah, recorded in the summer heat, is short on historical facts but long on Ruby’s sunny smile and self-deprecating humor.

Taping for the show occurred in California and in Savannah. The scenes with Steedley and Holloway were shot in June at Robs on Forsyth, the salon they call home on the corner of Whitaker and Gwinnett Streets.

Filming included hair styling scenes of Holloway with Ruby, and of Steedley with Ruby’s best friend, Georgia Thompson.

“I cut some hair, I blew dry some hair. They interviewed me about how I knew Ruby,” says Steedley.

“Jim cut Ruby’s nephew’s hair. I just sat there and talked to Ruby, and everything was being taped. We were in five different scenes. They say for each hour of taping is a minute or two they will use out of that.”

Although only one season is scheduled for certain, Steedley predicts that “Ruby” will be successful. “She is just funny. She isn’t trying to be funny, she just is. That’s her.” cs

"Ruby" premieres this Sunday at 8 p.m. local time on The Style Network.