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Thread: Shelley Winters Passed on

  1. #1
    She was a cool actress. Liked alot of her movies. Posiedon Adventure was one of the good ones.

  2. #2
    Actress Shelley Winters, 85; Blond Bombshell to Oscar Winner
    By Adam Bernstein
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, January 15, 2006; Page C09
    Shelley Winters, 85, a brassy actress and raconteur who appeared in more than 120 films and twice won the Academy Award for supporting performances, died Jan. 14 at a rehabilitation center in Beverly Hills, Calif. She had been hospitalized in October after suffering a heart attack.
    Ms. Winters won her Oscars for "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1959), as the sloppy and nervous Mrs. Van Daan, and for "A Patch of Blue" (1965), in which she was one of the true screen vultures, mercilessly abusing her blind daughter (played by Elizabeth Hartman).
    Shelley Winters appeared with Lou Jacobi in "The Diary of Anne Frank" in 1959, for which she won the first of two Academy Awards for best supporting actress. (20Th Century Fox Via Associated Press)
    Her last Oscar nomination was for "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972), the much-lampooned all-star drama about an overturned luxury liner. Despite her girth, she played a former swimming champion who tries to take others to safety.
    Acknowledging the film's rich potential for parody, she appeared on "The Flip Wilson Show" in a skit set in a fast-flooding laundromat. She led the cast in a daring escape through a washing-machine hatch.
    At first a peroxide-dyed "blond bombshell," Ms. Winters was typecast for years as a gangster's moll and dance-hall dame. She once joked of her tendency to perish as a sinner or martyr, writing in a memoir: "I had been strangled by Ronald Colman, drowned by Montgomery Clift, stabbed and drowned by Robert Mitchum, shot by Jack Palance and by Rod Steiger in two different films and, oh yes, overdosed with heroin by Ricardo Montalban."
    By the late 1950s, Ms. Winters had carved out a successful career in character parts -- the brash and frowzy secondary roles that she said would sustain her career as she aged.
    She once called the role of Charlotte Haze, the mother of a teenage vamp in "Lolita" (1962), "one of the best performances I ever gave in any medium. She is dumb and cunning, silly, sad, sexy, and bizarre, and totally American and human."
    In her later years, Ms. Winters appeared on talk-show programs to detail her indulgences with the leading men of Hollywood's golden age.
    She also wrote two kiss-and-tell memoirs, in which she counted among her amorous conquests Errol Flynn, William Holden (they had an annual Christmas Eve rendezvous), Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster and Marlon Brando.
    She said Brando invited her to the set of "A Streetcar Named Desire," locked her in his trailer and began to simulate violent lovemaking by shaking the room, pounding the walls and screaming with delight.
    Ms. Winters wrote that she found this silly, adding: "When I refused to yell loud enough for him, he whispered, 'You're not helping my image enough. For God's sake, you studied voice projection. Use it!' "
    Shirley Schrift was born Aug. 18, 1920, in St. Louis and moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., when she was 9. One of the most stinging memories of her youth was seeing her father jailed for setting his men's store on fire to collect insurance money. Much later, he was exonerated, she said.
    "I developed a whole fantasy world during my childhood," she wrote. "Reality was too unbearable. This ability to fantasize has been a powerful tool in my acting."
    After winning local beauty contests, Ms. Winters left school to model dresses. She also was a nightclub dancer and appeared in summer stock.
    Shelley Winters appeared with Lou Jacobi in "The Diary of Anne Frank" in 1959, for which she won the first of two Academy Awards for best supporting actress. (20Th Century Fox Via Associated Press)
    She wrote of having more gumption than talent early on. During a nationwide scouting hunt to find the ideal Scarlett O'Hara for the film "Gone With the Wind," she told the casting agent with a Brooklyn accent, "Lawdy, folks, I'm the only goil to play Scarlett."
    She won small parts on Broadway that led to a film contract with Columbia studios. When Columbia let her contract run out, she called Garson Kanin, a casual acquaintance then directing his play "Born Yesterday" on Broadway. She asked to be understudy to star Judy Holliday. Instead, Kanin told her to look up film director George Cukor, who was casting for the doomed waitress in a movie script Kanin had co-written.
    The film was 1947's "A Double Life," and it would provide Ms. Winters with her first notable part. She played the mistress and unwitting Desdemona to a psychotic Shakespearean actor (Ronald Colman). Colman won the Oscar that year, and the film's overall acclaim brought much attention to Ms. Winters's talents.
    Then under a long contract at Universal studios, she was rushed into a series of forgettable musicals and gangster melodramas. Periodically, she grabbed better assignments as a freelancer. Among her notable work was playing Myrtle Wilson in "The Great Gatsby" (1949) with Alan Ladd, and a hostage who develops romantic feelings for thug John Garfield in "He Ran All the Way" (1951).
    Ms. Winters wanted badly to do a big-budget picture, and she devoted her time to pursuing one of most sought-after roles in Hollywood: a mousy factory worker impregnated by social-climber Montgomery Clift in "A Place in the Sun."
    Desperate to prove her ability beyond what she called blond bombshell publicity, Ms. Winters showed up for her first meeting with director George Stevens looking so meek and pathetic that he didn't recognize her.
    He was so pleased with her immersion in the character that he offered her the role immediately. Ms. Winters, who received her first Oscar nomination in the part, later called Stevens the best director she had known. They worked again on "The Diary of Anne Frank," when she recalled Stevens playing the song "Purple People Eater" to loosen up the cast after tense scenes.
    By the mid-1950s, she was veering into scene-stealing secondary roles, such as the secretary and mistress to Paul Douglas in "Executive Suite" (1954); a trampy actress who gets murdered in "The Big Knife" (1955), starring Jack Palance; and a widow who falls victim to a murderous preacher, played by Robert Mitchum, in "The Night of the Hunter" (1955).
    "Mitchum, who was and is famous for playing jokes and kidding around on the set, was contained and serious throughout the filming," she later wrote. "Charles Laughton directed the film slowly and carefully. And we knew when we saw the first rushes that we were part of something classic and timeless. 'Night of the Hunter' is probably the most thoughtful and reserved performance I ever gave."
    Ms. Winters studied acting with Laughton but also was a follower of the "Method," a naturalistic performance style in which actors plumb their own lives for motivation.
    When her studio contract expired, Ms. Winters revived her stage career. She won praise as a heroin addict's wife in Michael V. Gazzo's drama "A Hatful of Rain" (1955).
    Critic Brooks Atkinson wrote of Ms. Winters in the New York Times: "She is simple, aware of all that is going on around her, good-humored and full of compassion and decision when the last scene comes around. She had the taste as well as the craft for a lucid and disarming character portrait."
    Also in the Broadway cast were Ben Gazzara and her third husband, Anthony Franciosa, of whom she later wrote: "If there had been an Olympic sex team that year, Tony would have been the champion." They later divorced.
    Ms. Winters began writing short plays, culminating in a series of one-acts produced off Broadway in 1970 under the title "One Night Stands of a Noisy Passenger." In the cast was a young Robert De Niro, who also played her drug-addicted son in Roger Corman's film "Bloody Mama" (1970).
    Many of her later roles were Jewish-mother parts, from "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" (1976) to "The Delta Force" (1986). Her last film was the Italian farce "La Bomba" (1999), which reunited her with her second husband, the Italian stage and film actor Vittorio Gassman. She said they divorced in 1954 after she discovered him romancing his 16-year-old Ophelia in a production of "Hamlet."
    Her first marriage, to a Chicago textile salesman named Mack P. Mayer, also ended in divorce.
    Survivors include a daughter from her second marriage.

  3. #3
    I thought she was pretty good in Cheers but Camp Beverly Hills sucked....Oh wait, that was Shelly Long...sorry.

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