As the New York Timed obituary noted, "A major movie presence for more than five decades, Shelley Winters turned herself into a widely-respected actress who won two Oscard." 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 Taylot's beauty in A Place in the Sun, still a landmark American film. As the Associated Press (AP) 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.
Shelley's first film appearance was in 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 Oscar 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 Wikipedia:I Am a Camera (film) 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 forThe 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 inHarper (both 1966); in Wikipedia:The Poseidon Adventure (1972 film)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'sWild in the Streets and 1971's Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?.
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.
- Shelley Winters at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)