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Shelley Winters (1920-2006)

 

  1. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  2. 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.

  3. 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 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.

  4. 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. 
  5. Ellen Drew, The Crooked Way, 1948.     A WWI vet with total amnesia (John Payne) tries to find out who he is - and that proves to be a gangster. First, Shelley Winters, then the always reliable Drew was great as the girl he falls for… not realising they were once wed.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Donna Reed, From Here To Eternity, 1952.
  9. 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.”
  10. 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.

  11. June Allyson, Battle Circus, 1953. Pregnant. With her Italian actor husband Vittorio Gassman’s Vittoria Gassman.
  12. 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.
  13. Jane Withers, Giant, 1955.
  14. 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.
  15. 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!)
  16. Joan Collins, The Wayward Bus, 1956.    “A very interesting script,” thought Shelley - but she passed in favour of another Fox offer...
  17. Lee Remick, The Long, Hot Summer, 1957.   And this one was to be  opposite  her (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. And she noticed Joanne Woodward driving (the still wed) Paul Newman  crazy “with her dates with young Timmy Everet.“ Supposedly based on two William Faulkner stories, the drama  seemed more inspired by Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. (Newman’s next film). Shelley got to play with Newman in Harperin 1965.   So did ex-wife Jacki Witte.
  18. Shirley MacLaine, Some Came Running,1957.    “Frank [Sinatra] couldn’t get Shelley, saw me  on TV -  and gave the whole ending  to me.” He offered $75,000  and Hal Wallis  said  half would do.  She got just her contract salary - $10,600.    And  her first Oscar nomination
  19. Kim Stanley, Seance on A Wet Afternoon, 1963.  TBryan Forbes, the UK’s sharpest writer-producer-director at the time, needed a similarly top-notch actress for the publicity-seeking clairvoyant Myra Savage. He certainly  looked in the right  quarters : Deborah Kerr, Simone Signoret - and his pal, Shelley Winters, who had an Emmy award-winning) TV job.  She recommended America’s woefully under-used Kim Stanley. repaying her for help the previpus year during The Balcony.“I doubt whether I would have been as memorable as Kim... Well, I would have been different.”
  20. Anne Bancroft, The Graduate, 1967.    

  21. 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.
  22. Carroll Baker, Bad, 1977.     Refused. But why? Playing a womanrunningan assassinationsquad (of women) for Andy Warhol seemed perfect for Bloody Mama, 1970.
  23. Ava Gardner, Regina, Italy,1982.    When due for locationsin Louisiana. Ava shot it all in Rome.

  24. 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 a satche. She pulled an Oscar out  of it 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.

  25. Lainie Kazan, Lust inthe Dust, 1985.  As Tab Hunter’s long simmering Western send-up began to take off, he wanted Shirley tothe sister of drag queen Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead). Next stops: Shelley... and Chita Rivera.
  26. Lainie Kazan, Beaches, 1988.  Bette Midler asked Shelley to be her mother in the part-musical soap but, at 68, Winters felt she’d fajl the necessary insurance exam.  No problem or Kazan. She was just five years older than her screen daughter! (Now there’s a soap). 
  27. Viveca Lindfors, The Linguini Incident, 1991. Fired by director Richard Shepard for showing up sloshed on her first day of shooting.
  28. Amy Sedaris,  Bewitched, 2004.   For inexplicable reasons, Hollywood kept trying to make a movie out of the 1968-1972 ABC sitcom about a good-looking witch her klutzy hubby. In 1993, Penny Marshall assembled a knockout cast. Meryl Streep as Samantha, Robin Williams as Uncle Arthur, Shelley Winters as Gladys Kravitz.  And the Dagwoodish husband being played, alternately, by Seinfeld and Billy Crystal… as a nod to how Dick Sargent replaced  an ailing Dick York  after 170 episodes as the tele-Darrin in 1969.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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