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Winters in a studio publicity photo (1951)
August 18, 1920
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||January 14, 2006
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart Failure|
|Alma mater||The New School|
|Spouse(s)||Mack Paul Mayer
(m.1952–1954; divorced; 1 child)
(m.2006-2006; her death)
|Awards||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (1959 and 1965)|
Shelley Winters (August 18, 1920 – January 14, 2006) was an American actress who appeared in dozens of films, as well as on stage and television; her career spanned over 50 years until her death in 2006. Winters won Academy Awards for her acting in The Diary of Anne Frank and A Patch of Blue, and is also remembered for her roles in A Place in the Sun (Oscar-nominated for Best Actress), The Big Knife, Lolita, The Night of the Hunter, Alfie, and The Poseidon Adventure (Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actress).
Early life 
Winters was born Shirley Schrift in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Rose (née Winter), a singer with The Muny, and Jonas Schrift, a designer of men's clothing. Her parents were Jewish; her father emigrated from Austria, and her mother had been born in St. Louis to Austrian immigrants. Her parents were third cousins. Her family moved to Brooklyn, New York when she was three years old. Her sister Blanche Schrift later married George Boroff, who ran The Circle Theatre (now named El Centro Theatre) in Los Angeles. Winters studied at The New School in New York City.
As the New York Times obituary noted, "A major movie presence for more than five decades, Shelley Winters turned herself into a widely-respected actress who won two Oscars." Winters originally broke into Hollywood as "the Blonde Bombshell", but quickly tired of the role's limitations. She washed off her makeup and played against type to set up Elizabeth Taylor's beauty in A Place in the Sun, still a landmark American film. As the Associated Press reported, the general public was unaware of how serious a craftswoman Winters was. "Although she was in demand as a character actress, Winters continued to study her craft. She attended Charles Laughton's Shakespeare classes and worked at the Actors Studio, both as student and teacher." She studied in the Hollywood Studio Club, and in the late 1940s she shared an apartment with another newcomer, Marilyn Monroe.
Her first movie was What a Woman! (1943). Working in films (in mostly bit roles) through the 1940s, Winters first achieved stardom with her breakout performance as the victim of insane actor Ronald Colman in George Cukor's A Double Life, in 1947. She quickly ascended in Hollywood with leading roles in The Great Gatsby (1949) with Alan Ladd and Winchester 73 (1950), opposite James Stewart. But it was her performance in A Place in the Sun (1951), a departure from the sexpot image that her studio, Universal Pictures, was building up for her at the time, that first brought Winters her acclaim, earning a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Throughout the 1950s, Winters continued in films, including Meet Danny Wilson (1952) as Frank Sinatra's leading lady, most notably in Charles Laughton's 1955 Night of the Hunter, with Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish, and the less successful I Am A Camera starring opposite Julie Harris and Laurence Harvey. She also returned to the stage on various occasions during this time, including a Broadway run in A Hatful of Rain, in 1955-1956, opposite future husband Anthony Franciosa. She won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for The Diary of Anne Frank in 1960, and another award, in the same category, for A Patch of Blue in 1966. She donated her Oscar for The Diary of Anne Frank to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
Notable later roles included her lauded performance as the man-hungry Charlotte in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita; starring opposite Michael Caine in Alfie; and as the once gorgeous, alcoholic former starlet "Fay Estabrook" whose emotional vulnerability the titular hero so cruelly exploits in Harper (both 1966); in The Poseidon Adventure (1972) as the ill-fated Belle Rosen (for which she received her final Oscar nomination); and in Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976). She also returned to the stage during the 1960s and 1970s, most notably in Tennessee Williams' Night of the Iguana. She appeared in such cult films as 1968's Wild in the Streets and 1971's Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?.
As the Associated Press reported, "During her 50 years as a widely known personality, Winters was rarely out of the news. Her stormy marriages, her romances with famous stars, her forays into politics and feminist causes kept her name before the public. She delighted in giving provocative interviews and seemed to have an opinion on everything." That led to a second career as a writer. Though not an overwhelming beauty, her acting, wit, and "chutzpah" gave her a love life to rival Monroe's. In late life, she recalled her conquests in her autobiographies. She wrote of a yearly rendezvous she kept with William Holden, as well as her affairs with Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster, Errol Flynn and Marlon Brando.
Winters had significant weight gain later in life, but lost much of the weight for (or before) an appearance at the 1998 Academy Awards telecast, which featured a tribute to Oscar winners past and present, at which a pantheon of former winners, including Gregory Peck, Claire Trevor, Jennifer Jones and Luise Rainer appeared.
Audiences born in the 1980s knew her primarily for the autobiographies and for her television work, in which she played a humorous parody of her public persona. In a recurring role in the 1990s, Winters played the title character's grandmother on the ABC sitcom Roseanne. Her final film roles were supporting ones: she played a restaurant owner and mother of an overweight cook in Heavy (1995), with Liv Tyler and Debbie Harry; The Portrait of a Lady (1996), starring Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich; and as an embittered nursing home administrator in 1999's Gideon.
Personal life 
Winters was married four times; her husbands were:
- Captain Mack Paul Mayer, whom she married on New Years Day, 1942; they divorced in October 1948. Mayer was unable to deal with Shelley's "Hollywood lifestyle" and wanted a "traditional homemaker" for a wife. Winters wore his wedding ring up until her death, and kept their relationship very private.
- Vittorio Gassman, whom she married on April 28, 1952; they divorced on June 2, 1954. They had one child, Vittoria born February 14, 1953, a physician, who practices internal medicine at Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut. She was Winters' only child.
- Anthony Franciosa, whom she married on May 4, 1957; they divorced on November 18, 1960.
- Gerry DeFord, on January 14, 2006, hours before her death.
Hours before her death, Winters married long-time companion Gerry DeFord, with whom she had lived for 19 years. Though Winters' daughter objected to the marriage, the actress Sally Kirkland performed the wedding ceremony for the two at Winters' deathbed. Kirkland, a minister of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, also performed non-denominational last rites for Winters.
Winters also had a romance with Farley Granger that became a long-term friendship (according to her autobiography Shelley Also Known As Shirley). She starred with him in the 1951 film, Behave Yourself!, as well as in a 1957 television production of A. J. Cronin's novel, Beyond This Place.
She became friendly with rock singer Janis Joplin shortly before Joplin died in 1970. Winters invited Joplin to sit in on a class session at the Actors' Studio at its Los Angeles location. Joplin never did.
Winters died at the age of 85 on January 14, 2006 of heart failure at the Rehabilitation Centre of Beverly Hills; she had suffered a heart attack on October 14, 2005. Her third ex-husband Anthony Franciosa had a stroke on the day she died and, himself, died five days later.
Academy Award wins and nominations 
|1952||Best Actress in a Leading Role, nominated||A Place in the Sun|
|1960||Best Actress in a Supporting Role, won||The Diary of Anne Frank|
|1966||Best Actress in a Supporting Role, won||A Patch of Blue|
|1973||Best Actress in a Supporting Role, nominated||The Poseidon Adventure|
Other film acting awards, nominations and accolades 
- 1973: nominated: Best Supporting Actress (The Poseidon Adventure)
- 1978: nominated: Best Supporting Actress (Next Stop, Greenwich Village)
- 1952: nominated: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (A Place in the Sun)
- 1960: nominated: Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (The Diary of Anne Frank)
- 1963: nominated: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Lolita)
- 1967: nominated: Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Alfie)
- 1973: won: Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (The Poseidon Adventure)
- 1977: nominated: Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Next Stop, Greenwich Village)
- 1967: won: Best Supporting Actress (A Patch of Blue)
- 1951: 2nd Place: Best Actress (A Place in the Sun)
- 1977: 3rd Place: Best Supporting Actress (Next Stop, Greenwich Village)
- 1954: won: Special Jury Prize (Shared Ensemble Cast Award) (Executive Suite)
- 1960: won: Female Supporting Performance (The Diary of Anne Frank)
- 1966: won: Female Supporting Performance (A Patch of Blue)
- 1967: 2nd Place: Female Supporting Performance (Alfie)
- 1977: won: Special David Award for Acting Performance (An Average Little Man)
- 1998: Lifetime Achievement Award
Television awards 
- 1964: won: Outstanding Single Performance By an Actress in a Leading Role – (Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre)
- 1966: nominated: Outstanding Single Performance By an Actress in a Leading Role – (Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre)
- 1975: nominated: Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Series - (McCloud)
Summer Stock Plays
- Winters, Shelley (1980). Shelley: Also known as Shirley. Morrow. ISBN 978-0-688-03638-6.
- Winters, Shelley (1989). Shelley II: The Middle of My Century. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-44210-4.
- Shelley: The Middle of My Century [Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]
- Aljean Harmetz (January 15, 2006). "Shelley Winters, Tough-Talking Oscar Winner in 'Anne Frank' and 'Patch of Blue', Dies". New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Winters, Shelley (1980). Shelley: Also known as Shirley. Morrow. ISBN 0-688-03638-4.
- Amburn, Ellis (October 1992). Pearl: The Obsessions and Passions of Janis Joplin : A Biography. Time Warner. ISBN 0-446-51640-6.
- St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". stlouiswalkoffame.org. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- "Wagon Train" at IMDb
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Shelley Winters|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Shelley Winters|
- Shelley Winters at the University of Wisconsin's Actors Studio audio collection
- Shelley Winters at the Internet Broadway Database
- Shelley Winters at the Internet Movie Database
- Shelley Winters at the TCM Movie Database
- Shelley Winters at TVGuide.com
- Bernstein, Adam (January 14, 2006). "Actress Shelley Winters Dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Harmetz, Aljean (January 15, 2006). "Shelley Winters, Winner of Two Oscars, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Bernstein, Adam (January 15, 2006). "Actress Shelley Winters, 85; Blond Bombshell to Oscar Winner". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- "Oscar winner Shelley Winters dies at 85". The Boston Globe. January 15, 2006.
- Winters' Entry on the St. Louis Walk of Fame