The world has just lost one of the most respected actresses from the golden age of Hollywood. Born Shirley Schrift in East St. Louis, Illinois on August 18, 1920, Shelley Winters passed away of natural causes at the age of 85 on Jan 14, 2006. Never a stunning leading lady, she still held her own against the prettiest stars and her work was admirable in every film that she ever did. In her heyday she was a sultry, svelte, blond leading lady and her career spanned Broadway, films and television.
Her early acting training was done under the tutelage of the great English actor, Charles Laughton, and she also studied under Lee Strasberg at the Actor’s Studio in New York. She was outspoken and didn’t care about how other people felt about her opinions, a fact which got her into trouble more than once. She wrote two kiss and tell books, (“Shelley” in 1980 and “Shelley II” in 1989), ruffling more than a few feathers in the industry.
When she was first starting out in Hollywood, she roomed with none other than Marilyn Monroe. She claimed that it was she who actually taught Marilyn Monroe how to “act” pretty by tilting her head back, keeping her eyes lowered and her mouth partly opened.
Her first big break came in 1947 when she landed a co-starring role with Ronald Coleman in “A Double Life.” She played the mistress and unfortunate victim of the actor-gone-mad. Many of her films such as “Lolita”, “A Place In The Sun”, “The Night of The Hunter”, and “The Diary of Anne Frank” just to name a few, were true masterpieces of cinema.
In her lifetime she made many films and she will be missed. She is survived by one daughter, Vittoria-Gina, from her marriage to Vittorio Gassman.
What are some of YOUR favorite Shelley Winter’s films?