Saturday, January 14, 2006

Shelley Winters (1920-2006)

All right, I'll 'fess up on this one.

When I first heard today that actress Shelley Winters had passed away, my first thought was, "I thought she was already dead."

But no — what my befogged brain apparently recalled was that Ms. Winters had suffered a not-immediately-fatal heart attack last October. Sorry, Shelley.

Although most people today probably think of her as the portly hausfrau who sacrifices her life to save a small group of tsunami survivors in The Poseidon Adventure, or as shrewish mothers in Lolita and her two Oscar-winning roles, The Diary of Anne Frank and A Patch of Blue, Shelley Winters was quite the hottie in her day. She boasted in her memoirs about having had affairs with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, from Clark Gable to Marlon Brando. Later in her career, she was a hit on the talk-show circuit, where she could always be counted on for strong opinions, vociferously expressed, and a salacious story or two.

Winters was perhaps the first actress of her era to make a successful transition from sexy starlet to genuine character roles, and truly shine in the latter. She was unafraid to look homely, even dumpy, on camera — a rare trait in the movie business, especially among actresses — and she knew how to milk a small character part (like, for example, her drug-running crime lord in Cleopatra Jones) for all it was worth.

She was an amazing talent, and a genuine Hollywood legend.

1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Janet offered these pearls of wisdom...

Once again this should serve as a reminder. Abe Vigoda? Not dead.

11:10 AM  

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