Thelma Ritter

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Thelma Ritter
Thelma Ritter - 1955.jpg
Ritter in 1955
Born February 14, 1902
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died February 5, 1969(1969-02-05) (aged 66)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting place
Cremated
Occupation Actress
Years active 1947–68
Spouse(s) Joseph Moran (April 21, 1927 – February 5, 1969; her death); 2 children

Thelma Ritter (February 14, 1902 – February 5, 1969) was an American actress, best known for her comedic roles as working class characters and strong New York accent. She received six Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress, and won one Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

Early life[edit]

Ritter was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1902.[1] After appearing in high school plays and stock companies, she trained as an actress at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She established a stage career but took a hiatus to raise her two children by her husband, Joseph Moran, an actor turned advertising executive.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Ritter did stock theater and radio shows early in her career, without much impact. Ritter's first movie role was in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). She made a memorable impression in a brief uncredited part, as a frustrated mother unable to find the toy that Kris Kringle has promised her son. Her second role, in writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's A Letter to Three Wives (1949), left a mark, although Ritter was again uncredited. Mankiewicz kept Ritter in mind, and cast her as "Birdie" in All About Eve (1950), which earned her an Oscar nomination. A second nomination followed for her work in Mitchell Leisen's' classic ensemble screwball comedy The Mating Season (1951) starring Gene Tierney and John Lund. She enjoyed steady film work for the next dozen years.

She appeared in many of the episodic drama TV series of the 1950s, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, General Electric Theater, and The United States Steel Hour. Other film roles were as James Stewart's nurse in Rear Window (1954) and as Doris Day's housekeeper in Pillow Talk (1959). Although best known for comedy roles, she played the occasional dramatic role, most notably in With a Song in My Heart (1952), Pickup on South Street (1953), Titanic (1953), and The Misfits (1961).

Death[edit]

Her last work was an appearance on The Jerry Lewis Show on January 23, 1968.[2] Ritter died of a heart attack in New York City, just nine days before her 67th birthday.

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1947 Miracle on 34th Street Peter's Mother uncredited
1948 Call Northside 777 Receptionist uncredited
1949 A Letter to Three Wives Sadie Dugan uncredited
City Across the River Mrs. Katie Cusack
Father was a Fullback Geraldine
1950 Perfect Strangers Lena Fassler
I'll Get By Miss Murphy
All About Eve Birdie Coonan Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
1951 The Mating Season Ellen McNulty Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
As Young as You Feel Della Hodges
The Model and the Marriage Broker Mae Swasey
1952 With a Song in My Heart Clancy Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1953 Titanic Maude Young
Pickup on South Street Moe Williams Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
The Farmer Takes a Wife Lucy Cashdollar
1954 Rear Window Stella
Lux Video Theatre Lux Video Theatre Guest episode: Christmas in July
1955 The Best of Broadway Mrs. Fisher episode: The Show-Off
Daddy Long Legs Alicia Pritchard
Lucy Gallant Molly Basserman
The 20th Century Fox Hour Abby episode: Christopher Bean
Goodyear Television Playhouse Aggie Hurley Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1956 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Lottie Slocum episode: The Baby Sitter
The Proud and Profane Kate Connors
1957 Telephone Time Mary Devlin episode: Plot to Save a Boy
The United States Steel Hour Ma Garfield episode: The Human Pattern
1959 A Hole in the Head Sophie Manetta
Pillow Talk Alma Laurel Award for Top Supporting Performance, Female (2nd place)
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1960 G.E. True Theatre Doris Green episode: Sarah's Laughter
Startime (TV series) Mrs. Gillis episode: The Man
1961 Frontier Circus Bertha Marie Beecher episode: Journey from Hannibal
The Second Time Around Aggie Gates Laurel Award for Top Supporting Performance, Female (3rd place)
The Misfits Isabelle Steers
1962 Birdman of Alcatraz Elizabeth Stroud Laurel Award for Top Supporting Performance, Female (3rd place)
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Wagon Train Madame Sagittarius episode: The Madame Sagittarius Story
How the West Was Won Agatha Clegg
1963 For Love or Money Chloe Brasher
A New Kind of Love Leena Laurel Award for Top Supporting Performance, Female (3rd place)
Move Over, Darling Grace Arden
1965 Boeing Boeing Bertha Laurel Award for Top Supporting Performance, Female (2nd place)
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
1967 The Incident Bertha Beckerman
1968 What's So Bad About Feeling Good? Mrs. Schwartz

Awards and nominations[edit]

During her career, Ritter was nominated for an Oscar six times, giving her the distinction of being one of the three actresses (tied with Deborah Kerr and Glenn Close) most nominated for the award in an acting category without a win. The current record for all actors is Peter O'Toole with eight nominations without a win, followed by Richard Burton with seven nominations. Both Kerr and O'Toole received honorary awards from the Academy, however. In 1954, Thelma Ritter co-hosted the Oscar ceremony, notably trading wisecracks with Bob Hope.

Academy Awards[edit]

Nominated Best Actress in a Supporting Role for:

Emmy Awards[edit]

Nominated for an Emmy (in 1956), as Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the Goodyear Television Playhouse production of The Catered Affair.

Golden Globe Awards[edit]

Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for:

Tony Awards[edit]

Awarded Best Actress (Musical) (1957) for New Girl in Town in a rare tie (with her co-star, Gwen Verdon).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Born in 1902 as per Social Security Death Index under the name Thelma Ritter
  2. ^ "Appearance on Jerry Lewis Show". Thewindmillsofyourmind.com. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 

External links[edit]