Turner Classic Movies
Winters, Shelley
Written by Diana Saenger   

Shelley Winters Profile  

Shelley Winters   in   "The Poseidon Adventure" © Fox Home Entertainment

Date of Birth: August 18, 1920

Place of Birth: East St. Louis, Missouri

Date of Death: January 14, 2006

Place of Death Los Angeles, California

Shelley Winters, a classic actress who is probably best remembered for her role as the champion swimmer Belle in The Poseidon Adventure (1972), passed away from heart failure  January 14, 2006 in Beverly Hills. Winters was 85, and had suffered a heart attack back in October, 2005.

Shelley Winters & Red Buttons in "The Poseidon Adventure" © Fox Home Entertainment

Winters made more than 130 films, and stood out in almost every one of them. She was born Shelley Schrit in 1920 in Illinois, started showbiz as a chorus girl then went on to New York to study at the Actor's Studio under Lee Strasberg. While there she made her Broadway debut in Oklahoma.

In her first two film features What A Woman (1943) and The Racket Man (1943) she was unaccredited, but studio executives saw the potential of the pretty and shapely blonde.

Columbia Pictures quickly signed her to a contract, and at one time in her early career  Winters roomed with Marilyn Monroe.

Winters gained a reputation off the set as well, with linkings to such classic stars as Marlon Brando, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn. During this time she married Army Air Force Captain Paul Meyer in 1943, and the couple divorced in 1946 with no children.

Her friskiness didn't overshadow her talent, and Winters earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination in 1951 for A Place In the Sun for her role as Alice Tripp, the woman who vies with Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) for the love of George Eastman (Montgomery Clift).

In 1952 Winters married Italian actor Vittorio Gassman. The two starred together in Mambo (1954), the same year they divorced after having a daughter, Vittoria. In 1957 Winters married for the third time to another Italian actor, Anthony Franciosa, her co-star in the stageplay A Hatful of Rain. They divorced in 1960. Winters frankly discuses many of her paramours in both of her memoirs.

Winters won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs. Petronella Van Daan in The Diary of Ann Frank in 1959. Showing that she could take on roles that required more than a pretty face, Stanley Kubrick hired Winters to play Charlotte Haze/Humbert, the mother of Dolores (Sue Lyon) in Lolita (1962). Her schedule got busier, and she made a few more films before appearing in A Patch of Blue (1965) for which she won her second Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

From there Winters continued to make films and be a guest on TV shows, both talk shows and others such as her recurring role on Roseanne. She was known to be outspoken and rarely held back a comment or opinion.

Winters wrote two autobiographies, Shelley: Also Known as Shirley, Morrow, ISBN: 0688036384, and Shelley II: The Middle of My Century, Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 0671442104.




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