Article published in Dropline.biz on January 16, 2006

Shelley Winters Dies at 85 (1920-2006)

By Gloria Muñoz (co-authored by Dino M. Zaffina)

Two-time Oscar winner dies at age 85 at The Rehabilitation Centre of Beverly Hills due to heart failure.Winters had been hospitalized in October 2005 after suffering a heart attack.

Shelley Winters was born Shirley Shrift on August 18, 1920, in East St. Louis, Illinois. When Winters was still a child, she moved with her family to Brooklyn, where her father worked as a tailor’s assistant. The Shrift family was living on a very low income, so Winters began selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door at only 9 years of age. Her ambitious business drive led her to work as a sales clerk and a model in the Manhattan garment district.

Winters began acting in high school plays. A love for the movies and stage led her to extensive drama studies at the Actors Studio in New York. She gained experience on the summer Borscht Circuit in the Catskills’ mountains by appearing in musicals and plays.

Being a beautiful blond bombshell provided Winters with the assets to acquire a job as a chorus girl in different nightclubs. She continued to be persistent which created opportunities in Broadway and off-Broadway plays and movies in Hollywood, California.

In 1942, Winters was discovered by Columbia Pictures executive, Harry Cohn. Cohn brought Winters out to Hollywood to play in many notable films. Although the next five years only provided Winters with minor roles, she knew that her Brooklyn street-wise ability would eventually lead her to starring roles.

Her dreams came true in 1948 in the film A Double Life, where she played the mistress of Ronald Colman. This appeared to be Winters break-through role which put her on the Hollywood map.

Only three years later, Winters was nominated for an Oscar for her role as “Alice Tripp” in the 1951 film A Place in the Sun. Alice accidentally drowned when the boat capsizes while she’s out on a lake with Montgomery Clift. He had been planning to kill her, because of the unwanted pregnancy and interference with his future marriage to Elizabeth Taylor, but hadn’t decided whether or not to go through with it when fate took the decision out of his hands.

In 1959, Shelley Winters won that long awaited Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her dramatic role as “Petronella Van Daan” in the film The Diary of Anne Frank. Petronella was the mother of Peter Van Daan. They were a small group of Jewish refugees who were hiding from the Nazis until they were later discovered and imprisoned in death camps. It was reported that Winters gave her Oscar to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

In 1965, Winters won her second Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Patch of Blue, playing the racist, foul-mouthed, violent mother of a blind Caucasian girl who has been socializing with a black man.

Seven years later, Winters received her final Oscar nomination, for her role of Belle Rosen in the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure. Winters gained a lot of weight for this role and unfortunately was never able to lose it. She played a former Olympic Swimmer who was trapped in a capsized ocean liner.  Her character dies of a heart attack after rescuing Gene Hackman’s character from being trapped underwater.

Winters was married three times and had one child. She married to Paul Mayer, Italian actor Vittorio Gassman, and actor Anthony Franciosa. Her daughter Vittoria was fathered by Gassman.

Shelley Winters had an illustrious career in Hollywood that spanned from 1943 to 1999. A list of Winters credits and notable characters are as follows:

1943 – What a Woman! – Secretary

1944 – The Racket Man – Featured Role

1944 – Sailor’s Holiday – Gloria Flynn

1944 – Knickerbocker Holiday – Ulda Tienhoven

1944 – Cover Girl – Girl

1944 – She’s a Soldier Too – ‘Silver’ Ranki

1944 – Together Again – Young Woman

1945 – Tonight and Every Night – Bubbles

1945 – Dancing in Manhattan – Margie

1945 – Escape in the Fog – Taxi Driver

1945 – A Thousand and One Nights – Handmaiden

1946 – The Fighting Guardsman – Nanette

1946 – Two Smart People – Princess

1947 – New Orleans – Miss Holmbright

1947 – Living in a Big Way – Junior League Girl

1947 – The Gangster – Hazel

1947 – A Double Life – Pat Kroll

1947 – Killer McCoy – Autograph hound

1948 – Red River – Dance Hall Girl in Wagon Train

1948 – Larceny – Tory

1948 – Cry of the City – Brenda Martingale

1949 – Take One False Step – Catherine Sykes

1949 – The Great Gatsby – Myrtle Wilson

1949 – Johnny Stool Pigeon – Terry Stewart

1950 – Winchester ’73 – Lola Manners

1950 – South Sea Sinner – Coral

1950 – Frenchie – Frenchie Fontaine

1951 – The Raging Tide – Connie Thatcher

1951 – He Ran All the Way – Peggy Dobbs

1951 – A Place in the Sun – Alice Tripp

1951 – Behave Yourself! – Kate Denny

1952 – Phone Call from a Stranger – Bianca Carr

1952 – Meet Danny Wilson – Joy Carroll

1952 – Untamed Frontier – Jane Stevens

1952 – My Man and I – Nancy

1954 – To Dorothy a Son – Myrtle La Mar

1954 – Tennessee Champ – Sarah Wurble

1954 – Saskatchewan – Grace Markey
1954 – Playgirl – Fran Davis

1954 – Executive Suite – Eva Bardema

1954 – Mambo – Toni Salerno

1955 – I Am a Camera – Natalia Landauer

1955 – The Night of the Hunter – Willa Harper

1955 – The Treasure of Pancho Villa – Ruth Harris

1955 – The Big Knife – Dixie Evans

1955 – I Died a Thousand Times – Marie Gibson

1959 – The Diary of Anne Frank – Mrs. Petronella Van Daan

1959 – Odds Against Tomorrow – Lorry

1960 – Let No Man Write My Epitaph – Nellie Romano

1961 – The Young Savages – Mary di Pace

1962 – Lolita Charlotte Haze/Humbert

1962 – The Chapman Report – Sarah Garnell

1963 – Wipe-out

1963 – The Balcony – Madame Irma

1963 – Wives and Lovers – Fran Cabrell

1964 – Gli Indifferenti – Lisa...

1964 – A House Is Not a Home – Polly Adler

1965 – The Greates Story Ever Told – Healed Woman

1965 – A Patch of Blue – Rose-Ann D'Arcy

1966 – The Three Sister – Natalya

1966 – Harper – Fay Estabrook

1966 – Alfie – Ruby

1967 – Entering Laughing – Mrs. Emma Kolowitz

1968 – The Scalphunters – Kate

1968 – Wild in the Streets – Mrs. Daphne Flatow

1968 – Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell – Shirley Newman

1969 – Arthur! Arthur!

1969 – The Mad Room – Mrs. Armstrong

1970 – Bloody Mama – Kate ‘Ma’ Barker

1970 – How Do I Love Thee? – Lena Mervin

1970 – Flap – Dorothy Bluebell...

1971 – Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? – Rosie Forrest

1971 – What’s the Matter with Helen? – Helen Hill

1971 – Revenge – Amanda Hilton

1971 – A Death of Innocence – Elizabeth Cameron

1972 – Something to Hide – Gabriella

1972 – Adventures of Nick Carter – Bess Tucker

1972 – The Poseidon Adventure – Belle Rosen

1973 – The Devil’s Daughter – Lilith Malone

1973 – Blume in Love – Mrs. Cramer

1973 – Cleopatra Jones – Mommy

1974 – Big Rose: Double Trouble – Rose Winters

1974 – The Sex Symbol – Agatha Murphy

1975 – Poor Pretty Eddy – Bertha

1975 – Journey Into Fear – Mrs. Mathews
1975 – Diamonds – Zelda Shapiro

1975 – That Lucky Touch – Diana Steedeman

1976 – La Dahlia Scarlatta

1976 – Next Stop, Greenwich Village – Fay Lapinsky

1976 – Le Locataire – The Concierge

1976 – Frosty’s Winter Wonderland – Crystal

1977 – Mimi Bluette fiore del mio giardino – Caterina

1977 – Gran Bollito – Lea
1977 – Tentacoli – Tillie Turner

1977 – Un Borghese piccolo piccolo – Amalia Vivaldi

1977 – Pete’s Dragon – Lena Gogan

1978 – King of the Gypsies – Queen Rachel

1978 – The Initiation of Sarah – Mrs. Erica Hunter

1979 – Elvis – Gladys Presley

1979 – The Visitor – Jane Phillips

1979 – City on Fire – Nurse Andrea Harper

1979 – Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July – Crystal

1979 – The Magician of Lublin – Elizbieta

1979 – The French Atlantic Affair – Helen Wabash

1981 – S.O.B. – Eva Brown

1981 – Looping – Der lange Traum vom kurzen Glück – Carmen

1983 – Emma and Grandpa on the Farm – The Narrator

1983 – Fanny Hill – Mrs. Cole

1984 – Ellie – Cora Mae Jackson

1984 – Over the Brooklyn Bridge – Becky

1985 – Déjà vu – Olga Nabokova

1985 – Alice in Wonderland – Dodo Bird

1986 – Withchfire – Lydia

1986 – Very Close Quarters – Galina

1986 – The Delta Force – Edie Kaplan

1988 – Purple People Eater – Rita

1989 – An Unremarkable Life

1990 – Touch of a Stranger

1991 – Stepping Out – Mrs. Fraser

1992 – Weep No More, My Lady – Vivian Morgan

1993 – The Pickle – Yetta

1994 – Il Silenzio dei proscuitto – Mrs. Motel

1995 – Heavy – Dolly Modino

1995 – Backfire! – The Good Lieutenant

1995 – Jury Duty – Mrs. Collins

1995 – Mrs. Munck – Aunt Monica

1995 – Raging Angels – Grandma Ruth

1996 – The Portrait of a Lady – Mrs. Touchett

1999 – Gideon – Mrs. Willows

1999 – La Bomba – Professor Summers _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 
             
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