Thelma Ritter

Last updated
Thelma Ritter
Thelma Ritter - 1955.jpg
Ritter in 1955
Born(1902-02-14)February 14, 1902
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 5, 1969(1969-02-05) (aged 66)
New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationActress
Years active1926–1968
Spouse(s)
Joseph Moran
(m. 1927)
Children2

Thelma Ritter (February 14, 1902 – February 5, 1969) was an American actress, best known for her comedic roles as working-class characters and her strong New York accent. She received six Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress—more than any other actress in that category [1] —and won one Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

Contents

Early life

Ritter was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1902, the first child of Charles and Lucy Ritter, both natives of the United States. [2] [3] According to the New York State Census of 1905, her father at that time was a bookkeeper. [2] Ritter's acting career began as a teenager, when she appeared in high-school plays and stock companies. She later received formal training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. [4] Although she subsequently struggled to establish a stage career, Ritter decided to take a hiatus from acting to raise her two children—Monica and Joe—by her husband Joseph Moran (whom she married in 1927), [1] who was also an actor, but changed professions in the mid-1930s, opting to become an agent and then an advertising executive. [4]

Career

Ritter did stock theater and radio shows early in her career. Her Broadway credits include UTBU (1965), New Girl in Town (1956), In Times Square (1931), and The Shelf (1926). [5]

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 third 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' 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 maid 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), The Misfits (1961), and Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), for which she received her final Oscar nomination.

Her last work was an appearance on The Jerry Lewis Show on January 23, 1968. [6]

Death

Ritter suffered a heart attack in New York City on January 27, 1969 and died in Queens General Hospital on February 5, 1969, nine days before her 67th birthday.

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 Amy Adams) with the second most nominations for the award in an acting category without a win, surpassed only by Glenn Close with seven. The current record for all actors is Peter O'Toole with eight nominations without a win, followed by Richard Burton and Close with seven nominations respectively. Both Kerr and O'Toole received honorary awards from the Academy, however. In 1955, Thelma Ritter co-hosted the Oscar ceremony, notably trading wisecracks with Bob Hope.

Academy Awards

Nominated Best Actress in a Supporting Role for:

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 . [8]

Golden Globe Awards

Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for:

Tony Awards

Awarded Best Actress in a Musical (1957) for New Girl in Town in a rare tie (with her co-star, Gwen Verdon). [10]

Filmography

YearTitleRoleNotes
1947 Miracle on 34th Street Peter's MotherUncredited
1948 Call Northside 777 ReceptionistUncredited
1949 A Letter to Three Wives Sadie DuganUncredited
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 CoonanNominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
1951 The Mating Season Ellen McNultyNominated-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 ClancyNominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1953 Titanic Maude Young
Pickup on South Street Moe WilliamsNominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
The Farmer Takes a Wife Lucy Cashdollar
1954 Rear Window Stella
Lux Video Theatre Lux Video Theatre Guestepisode: Christmas in July
1955 The Best of Broadway Mrs. Fisherepisode: The Show-Off
Daddy Long Legs Alicia Pritchard
Lucy Gallant Molly Basserman
The 20th Century Fox Hour Abbyepisode: Christopher Bean
Goodyear Television Playhouse Aggie Hurleyepisode: The Catered Affair
Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1956 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Lottie Slocumepisode: The Baby Sitter
The Proud and Profane Kate Connors
1957 Telephone Time Mary Devlinepisode: Plot to Save a Boy
The United States Steel Hour Ma Garfieldepisode: 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
1960G.E. True TheatreDoris Greenepisode: Sarah's Laughter
Startime Mrs. Gillisepisode: The Man
1961 The Misfits Isabelle Steers
Frontier Circus Bertha Marie Beecherepisode: Journey from Hannibal
The Second Time Around Aggie Gates Laurel Award for Top Supporting Performance, Female (3rd place)
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 Sagittariusepisode: 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(final film role)

Radio broadcasts

YearProgramEpisode/source
1953 Theatre Guild on the Air A Square Peg [11]

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References

  1. 1 2 Nissen, Axel (2007). Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties. McFarland. pp. 171–172. ISBN   9780786427468 . Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  2. 1 2 The New York State Census of 1905", 16th Assembly District, Borough of Brooklyn, Kings County, State of New York, June 1, 1905. Digital copy of original 1905 enumeration page available on FamilySearch, an online genealogical database provided as a public service by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  3. Born in 1902 as per Social Security Death Index under the name "Thelma Ritter"
  4. 1 2 LoBianco, Lorraine. "Thelma Ritter Profile", Turner Classic Movies (TCM), a Time Warner Company, New York, N.Y. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  5. "("Thelma Ritter" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on 26 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  6. "Appearance on Jerry Lewis Show". Thewindmillsofyourmind.com. Retrieved 2012-12-04.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "("Thelma Ritter" search results)". Academy Awards Database. Retrieved 26 September 2017.[ permanent dead link ]
  8. "("Thelma Ritter" search results)". EMMYS. Television Academy. Archived from the original on 26 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  9. 1 2 3 "Thelma Ritter". Golden Globe Awards. HFPA. Archived from the original on 26 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  10. "("Thelma Ritter" search results)". Tony Awards. Archived from the original on 31 August 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  11. Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg