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Thelma Ritter

Best know for her roles in Rear Window and Pillow Talk. She was nominated for six Academy Awards. She is one of the most nominated actors who never won the statue.

Thelma Ritter

Thelma Ritter
1954
Photo by Bud Fraker

Filmography

1947      

Miracle on 34th Street (uncredited)

 

1948      

Call Northside 777 (uncredited)

 

1949      

A Letter to Three Wives (uncredited)

City Across the River

Father Was a Fullback

 

1950      

Perfect Strangers

I’ll Get By

All About Eve

 

1951      

The Mating Season

As Young as You Feel

The Model and the Marriage Broker

 

1952      

With a Song in My Heart

 

1953      

Titanic

Pickup on South Street

The Farmer Takes a Wife

 

1954      

Rear Window

 

1955      

Daddy Long Legs

Lucy Gallant

 

1956      

The Proud and Profane

 

1959      

A Hole in the Head

Pillow Talk

 

1961      

The Misfits

The Second Time Around

 

1962      

Birdman of Alcatraz

How the West Was Won

 

1963      

For Love or Money

A New Kind of Love

Move Over, Darling

 

1965      

Boeing Boeing

 

1967      

The Incident

 

1968      

What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?

Awards

Thelma Ritter was nominated for six Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, she never won.

 

[on being nominated for Best Supporting Actress four times in a row] Now I know what it feels like to be the bridesmaid and never the bride. ~ Thelma Ritter

Thelma Ritter was born in Brooklyn, New York, on February 14, 1902, the first child of Charles and Lucy Ritter. Thelma’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. 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), who was also an actor, but changed professions in the mid-1930s, opting to become an agent and then an advertising executive.

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).

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).

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, nine days before her 67th birthday.

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