Thelma Ritter

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

    Ritter was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1902. 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.[]

    Career

    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

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

    Filmography

    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 episode: The Catered Affair
    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

    Radio appearances

    Year Program Episode/source
    1953 Theatre Guild on the Air A Square Peg

    Awards and nominations

    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

    Nominated Best Actress in a Supporting Role for:

    • All About Eve (1950)
    • The Mating Season (1951)
    • With a Song in My Heart (1952)
    • Pickup on South Street (1953)
    • Pillow Talk (1959)
    • Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

    Emmy Awards

    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

    Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for:

    • All About Eve (1950)
    • The Mating Season (1951)
    • Boeing Boeing (1965)

    Tony Awards

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

    References

    External links

    0.023107