Shelley Winters (1920-2006)
- Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
- Lynn Merrick, Nine Girls, 1943. One sultry blonde for another… And so Shelley missed the numerical credits with all the nine soriety girls (from Evelyn Keyes to Marcia Mae Jones) numbered 1-9.
- Leslie Brooks, Cover Girl, 1944.
Columbia czar Harry Cohn directed the test himself. After nine minutes, he yelled, “Jesus Christ, I said ‘Cut!’ so why the hell are you still acting.” “I’m not interested in your technical problems,” said Shelley. “I have to finish my scene, don’t I?” Cohn: “I think I’ve found a way to get even with [director] Frank Capra...!” Next: “Hey kid, if you get a contract... “You’re gonna hafta take off some weight.” Winters, at 105 lbs: “From where? My elbows.” And Nutsy, as Cohn called her, was in. Under contract. Except she never showed. Too busy tending her pilot husband until he was shipped out to war. The Most Hated Man In Hollywood (“for me, always a mensch”) buckeld under to Shell. Not for the last time.
- Claire Carleton, Red Light, 1948. The George Raft thriller was made when Winters was usually uncredited as chorus girls, bridesmaids, even a… Young Woman Fleeing Nightclub Raid. She spurned another Waitress bit having scored her breakthrough opposite Ronald Colman in A Double Life. With The Great Gatsby and Winchester ’73 in the 50s, she was on her way… to two Oscars.
- Rhonda Fleming, Little Egypt (UK: Chicago Masquerade), 1951. Universal refused to loanher for He Ran All The Way and she retaliated by putting on so much weight she could not play the belly dancer hit of the 1893 World's Fair. With that role re-cast, Shelley dieted and reported to what proved to be John Garfield's final film.
- Lizabeth Scott, The Racket, 1951. Change of Irene in the only re-make Robert Mitchum ever made of a silent movie. In the 1928 original, Thomas Meighan and Marie Prevost played the leads. Both films were produced by Howard Hughes.
- Donna Reed, From Here To Eternity, 1952.
- Jean Peters, Pickup On South Street, 1952. Ava, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe and Shelleys... Maverick auteur- and “tabloid philosopher”! - Samuel Fuller, who invariably spoke in CAPITALS, was offered a jolie brochette to choose his Candy from. And Shelley was: “NOT SEXY ENOUGH to be a hooker, NOT SMART ENOUGH to be a housewife.”
- Gene Tierney, Never Let Me Go, 1952. “Clark Gable Outwits Russians Again, Wins a Ballerina” was how Bosley Crowther’s review was headlined in The New York Times. Winters (rather top heavy for ballet?) and Cyd Charisse were also seen for Marya Lamarkina.
- June Allyson, Battle Circus, 1953. Pregnant. With her Italian actor husband Vittorio Gassman’s Vittoria Gassman.
- Gloria Grahame,The Glass Wall, 1953. This US debutof her guy, Vittorio Gassman, was arranged by her friends.“There was a small part for a girl in it,” she recalled. “But,of course,Universal wouldn’t let me do it.”By the time they didfilm together, Mambo, 1954,neither it or their friends could save their marriage.
- Jane Withers, Giant, 1955.
- Olivia De Havilland, The Ambassador’s Daughter, 1955. Writer-producer-director Norman Krasna first chose Shelley and Farley Granger as the loving couple. Olivia was a splendid substitute, light and funny for once, while Forsythe was quite lost as her young GI in France.
- Ruth Roman, Great Day in the Morning, 1955. Producer Edmund Grainger could not decide whether to go young or old for his Colorado Western. For his leading lady he thought of Winters or the six years younger Grace Kelly. (Worse for the hero, when he hesitated between William Powell or (the 25-years younger!) Robert Mitchum!)
- Joan Collins, The Wayward Bus, 1956. “A very interesting script,” thought Shelley - but she passed in favour of another Fox offer...
- Lee Remick, The Long, Hot Summer, 1957. And this one was to beoppositeher (second Italian) husband, Anthony Franciosa. Until director Martin Ritt preferred the younger Remick. Shelley hid her disappointment and joined Tony on the New Orleans location.
- Shirley MacLaine, Some Came Running, 1957. “Frank [Sinatra] couldn’t get Shelley,saw meon TV -and gave the whole endingtome.” He offered $75,000and Hal Wallissaidhalf would do.She got her $10,600contract salary.And an Oscar nod.
- Kim Stanley, Seance on A Wet Afternoon, 1963. The UK writer-director Bryan Forbes had known his first choice for years. However, Shelley had (an Emmy award-winning) TV job and recommended Kim - repaying her for help during The Balcony. “I doubt whether I would have been as memorable as Kim... Well, I would have been different.”
- Anne Bancroft, The Graduate, 1967. "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me… aren't you?" Despite his hits for Ingrid Bergman, Deborah Kerr and Jeanne Moreau, Mike Nichols knew Dustin Hoffman’s seducer had to be American. Winters passed. (As did Sue Lyon, already her her screen daughter, Lolita). Nichols ploughed on through Doris Day, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Susan Hayward, Rita Hayworth, Patricia Neal, Geraldine Page, Eva Maria Saint, Lana Turner, Shelley Winters. And the prerequisite outsider: Grayson Hall, of the 1966-1972 supernatural soap, Dark Shadows Nichols voted for Annie - the sole star in the film. She greatly resembled his ex-comedy partner, Elaine May
- Phyllis Diller, The Adding Machine, 1969. Shelley was negotiating with Seven Arts to be in the 1964 version of the Elmer Rice play – as the shrewish Mrs Zero. As were Art Carney and Martin Balsam for Mr Zero and Lieutenant Charles.
- Carroll Baker, Bad, 1977. Refused. But why? Playing a womanrunningan assassinationsquad (of women) for Andy Warhol seemed perfect for Bloody Mama, 1970.
- Ava Gardner, Regina, Italy,1982. When due for locationsin Louisiana. Ava shot it all in Rome.
- Ruth Nelson, Awakenings, 1990.
Robert De Niro suggested Shelley play his mother again - as in Bloody Mama, 20 years before. She arrived for her appointment with the casting director with . She pulled an Oscar out of her satchel and placed it on the desk. Pause. She pulled out a second Oscar… “Some people think I can act. Do you still want me to read for this part?” “No, Miss Winters.” Once she got a whiff of power, she then demanded too much.
- Viveca Lindfors, The Linguini Incident, 1991. Fired by director Richard Shepard for showing up sloshed on her first day of shooting..
- Lainie Kazan, Lust inthe Dust, 1985.As Tab Hunter’s long simmering Western send-upbegan to take off, he wanted Shirley tothe sister of drag queenDivine (Harris Glenn Milstead). Next stops:Shelley...and Chita Rivera.