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Teresa Wright Bio: Unique Oscar Winner

Teresa Wright actressTeresa Wright bio: Oscar winner

Teresa Wright, best remembered as a Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for the 1942 blockbuster Mrs. Miniver and as an Alfred Hitchcock heroine in Shadow of a Doubt, died of a heart attack at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut on March 6. Wright was 86.

Throughout her 66-year career, Teresa Wright appeared in 28 feature films, dozens of television series and made-for-TV movies, and numerous stage productions. On the big screen, she played opposite some of the biggest stars of the '40s and '50s, among them Bette Davis, Greer Garson, Gary Cooper, Robert Mitchum, Joseph Cotten, Ray Milland, Fredric March, David Niven, Myrna Loy, Marlon Brando, Spencer Tracy, and Jean Simmons.

Additionally, Wright remains the only performer to have been nominated for Academy Awards for her first three roles. Besides her Mrs. Miniver win for playing Greer Garson's doomed daughter-in-law, Wright was nominated as Best Supporting Actress for The Little Foxes (1941), starring Bette Davis, and as Best Actress for The Pride of the Yankees (1942), in which she played Gary Cooper's wife.

Teresa Wright onstage: Our Town and Life with Father

Born Muriel Teresa Wright to an insurance agent and his wife in New York City on October 27, 1918, she grew up in Maplewood, N.J., often under the care of relatives. While at Columbia High School, Wright displayed an interest in acting — she had reportedly become stage struck after watching Helen Hayes in Victoria Reginaon Broadway. Shortly after graduating in 1938, she decided to hone her acting skills at the prestigious Wharf Theater in Provincetown, Mass.

Following a stint in summer theater, Wright was hired as an understudy to future 20th Century Fox star Dorothy McGuire, who had replaced Hollywood-bound Martha Scott in Thornton Wilder's Broadway hit Our Town. Since there was already a stage performer registered as Muriel Wright, the aspiring actress began using her middle name, Teresa, as her first name.

After touring with Our Town, Teresa Wright was cast as the ingénue in one of Broadway's biggest hits ever, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse's production of Life with Father. (Her role was played by Elizabeth Taylor in Warner Bros.' 1947 film version). Impressed with Wright's performance and reviews, producer Samuel Goldwyn brought the 22-year-old actress to Hollywood to play another ingénue, the delicate but strong-willed Alexandra Giddens in William Wyler's masterful 1941 film adaptation of Lillian Hellman's dysfunctional family drama The Little Foxes.

Teresa Wright in Hollywood: The Little Foxes and Mrs. Miniver

Wyler elicited a remarkably effective performance from the film novice, later referring to Wright as the most promising actress he had ever directed. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apparently agreed, for they nominated the newcomer for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, one of The Little Foxes' nine nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Bette Davis), and Best Screenplay (Lillian Hellman). Although it failed to win a single Oscar, The Little Foxes was a well-respected hit that helped to turn Teresa Wright into a certifiable star-in-the-making.

On loan to MGM, Teresa Wright had a featured role in another William Wyler production, Mrs. Miniver. Starring the popular team of Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon, this well-produced but absurd paean to the British homefront became one of the biggest commercial hits of the '40s and the Best Picture Oscar winner of 1942. In the film, Wright plays a charming and sweet British aristocrat who (bravely) suffers a tragic end.

["Oscar Winner Teresa Wright Bio" continues on the next page. See link below.]

Teresa Wright photo via Doctor Macro.

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7 Comments to Teresa Wright Bio: Unique Oscar Winner

  1. craig wildensten

    i have both movies ' Pride of The Yankees' and ' Mrs Miniver ' and I have watched both and I think that Teresa Wright did a much better performance in Pride than Mrs Miniver. I think she should have won the Oscar for that one instead of Mrs Miniver. I would have given it to her for Pride than any other movie she did.

  2. George

    Theresa Wright personifies all that is best in a human being. I was just a kid when she was at the top of her career and it is only now that I have come to appreciate what a truly towering talent she was. On top of that, she was a marvelously wonderful, humble and all around beautiful human being. I wish I had been around in her era. I would have considered it a privilege to have had a chance to have even met her. From what I can see in this year of 2011, there are no Theresa Wright's to be found anywhere. In my opinion, this goes a long way to explain why this nation finds itself in such dire straits

    GC

    Hemet California

  3. Dan Walters

    Like others, I fell in love with Teresa the very first time I noticed her … less than a year ago.
    Sure, I had seen her in the past, several times, but had not noticed how great of an actor she was.
    Sadly, she died the very month that I had heart surgery, for the very same thing that took her life. She was about 18 years older than me. I'll never forget her.

    Dan

  4. Jun

    I feel in love with Teresa Wright in "The Best Years of Our Lives." I recommend this classic movie for those who like romance.

  5. steve

    I just watched Ms. Wright in "The Best Years of Our lives." (1946) She was such a beautiful, ultra-feminine little thing … It was "love at first sight" for me … even tho' time has done what it always does…

  6. Andre

    Oscar,
    Thanks for writing.
    That paragraph actually reads:
    "… the romantic fantasy Somewhere in Time (1980), starring Christopher Reeve; the Diane Keaton vehicle The Good Mother (1988); …"
    Diane Keaton starred in The Good Mother (there's a ";" before her name).
    And yes, Jane Seymour was Christopher Reeve's co-star in "Somewhere in Time."

  7. Oscar Rodriguez

    This biography was very enjoyable to read.
    Very informative, wonderful pictures.
    However, I would like to bring one small
    Mistake to your attention.
    In the movie " Somewhere in time. "
    Your article states , Diane Keaton starred
    With Christopher Reeves. And if I'm not mistaken,
    He starred with Jane Seymour.
    Thank you for your attention.




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