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Oldest Oscar Winners + Teresa Wright Was Earliest Supporting ‘Survivor’

Teresa Wright: Later years

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

(See previous post: Hollywood actress goes from Broadway hit to late 20th-century movies Somewhere in Time & The Rainmaker.) Teresa Wright and Robert Anderson were divorced in 1978. They would remain friends in the ensuing years.[1]

Wright spent most of the last decade of her life in Connecticut, making only sporadic public appearances. In 1998, she could be seen with her grandson, film producer Jonah Smith, at New York’s Yankee Stadium, where The Pride of the Yankees leading lady threw the ceremonial first pitch. According to reports, she became a baseball fan at that time – she was 80 – referring to the sport as “pure theater.”[2]

In later years, Wright also became involved in the Greater New York chapter of the ALS Association. (The Pride of the Yankees subject, Lou Gehrig, had died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in 1941.)

The week she turned 82 in October 2000, Wright attended the 20th anniversary celebration of Somewhere in Time, where she posed for pictures with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.[3]

In March 2003, she was a guest at the 75th Academy Awards, in the segment showcasing Oscar-winning actors of the past.

Two years later, on March 6, Teresa Wright, age 86, suffered a fatal heart attack while at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. She is buried at New Haven’s Evergreen Cemetery.

One of the last surviving Academy Award-nominated actors of the 1940s

At the time of her death, Teresa Wright was the earliest surviving Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner and the last surviving 1942 nominee in the acting categories. Following her passing, sisters Olivia de Havilland (Hold Back the Dawn) and Joan Fontaine (Suspicion) remained 1941’s only surviving nominated performers.[4][5]

Ten years later, 1941’s only surviving nominee is Olivia de Havilland.[6]

Shadow of a Doubt Teresa Wright posterShadow of a Doubt’ poster with Teresa Wright and Macdonald Carey.

Teresa Wright: Unusual Hitchcock heroine?

“You think you know something, don’t you? You think you’re the clever little girl who knows something. There’s so much you don’t know, so much. What do you know, really? You’re just an ordinary little girl, living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there’s nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day, and at night you sleep your untroubled ordinary little sleep, filled with peaceful stupid dreams. And I brought you nightmares. Or did I? Or was it a silly, inexpert little lie?

“You live in a dream. You’re a sleepwalker, blind. How do you know what the world is like? Do you know the world is a foul sty? Do you know, if you rip off the fronts of houses, you’d find swine? The world’s a hell. What does it matter what happens in it?

“Wake up, Charlie. Use your wits. Learn something.”

Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) offering a bit of sage, avuncular advice to his niece, Young Charlie (Teresa Wright), in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. Screenplay credited to Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, and Alma Reville, from an original story by Gordon McDonell.

A number of articles about Shadow of a Doubt indicate that Teresa Wright was an unusual Alfred Hitchcock heroine. She wasn’t blonde. She wasn’t cool. She wasn’t sexy. Wright’s Young Charlie was instead an idealized (and idealistic), desexualized, dark-haired version of the all-American girl next door.

Yet the casting of Teresa Wright and the character of Young Charlie should seem out of place only to those who believe Alfred Hitchcock’s film career began with Rear Window and Dial M for Murder in 1954 – i.e., his Grace Kelly and post-Kelly phase that would also include Eva Marie Saint, Kim Novak, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, and Tippi Hedren.

After all, those who are aware that Hitchcock actually began making movies in the mid-’20s, and that the lead actresses in his films – and the characters they played – varied widely in terms of both looks and personality, surely realize that there was nothing “unusual” about either Teresa Wright or Young Charlie.

Wright is certainly no more unusual than Betty Balfour in Champagne. Or Nova Pilbeam in Young and Innocent. Or Maureen O’Hara in Jamaica Inn. Or Priscilla Lane in Saboteur. Or Joan Fontaine in both Rebecca and Suspicion.

Or Sylvia Sidney in Sabotage. Or Margaret Lockwood in The Lady Vanishes. Or Alida Valli in The Paradine Case (cool, but unlike fellow player Ann Todd, a brunette). Or Ingrid Bergman in Spellbound, Notorious, and Under Capricorn. The list goes on.

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

In fact, even the earlier Hitchcock blondes like Anny Ondra (Blackmail), Madeleine Carroll (The 39 Steps, Secret Agent), Joan Barry (Rich and Strange / East of Shanghai), and Carole Lombard (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) were anything but “cool.”

In sum, Teresa Wright was an Alfred Hitchcock heroine like any other. Except that she was more memorable than most.[7]

Teresa Wright movie actressTeresa Wright: Movie actress in nearly 30 features.

Teresa Wright filmography

  • The Little Foxes (1941).
    Director: William Wyler.
    Cast: Bette Davis. Herbert Marshall. Teresa Wright. Richard Carlson. Charles Dingle. Carl Benton Reid. Dan Duryea. Patricia Collinge.
  • Mrs. Miniver (1942).
    Director: William Wyler.
    Cast: Greer Garson. Walter Pidgeon. Teresa Wright. Dame May Whitty. Richard Ney. Reginald Owen. Henry Travers. Henry Wilcoxon. Helmut Dantine.
  • The Pride of the Yankees (1942).
    Director: Sam Wood.
    Cast: Gary Cooper. Teresa Wright. Babe Ruth. Walter Brennan. Dan Duryea.
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943).
    Director: Alfred Hitchcock.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Joseph Cotten. Macdonald Carey. Patricia Collinge.
  • Casanova Brown (1944).
    Director: Sam Wood.
    Cast: Gary Cooper. Teresa Wright. Frank Morgan. Anita Louise.
  • The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).
    Director: William Wyler.
    Cast: Myrna Loy. Fredric March. Teresa Wright. Dana Andrews. Virginia Mayo. Hoagy Carmichael. Cathy O’Donnell. Harold Russell. Gladys George.
  • The Trouble with Women (1947).
    Director: Sidney Lanfield.
    Cast: Ray Milland. Teresa Wright. Brian Donlevy. Rose Hobart.
  • The Imperfect Lady (1947).
    Director: Lewis Allen.
    Cast: Ray Milland. Teresa Wright. Cedric Hardwicke. Virginia Field.
  • Pursued (1947).
    Director: Raoul Walsh.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Robert Mitchum. Judith Anderson. Dean Jagger.
  • Enchantment (1948).
    Director: Irving Reis.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Farley Granger. David Niven. Evelyn Keyes.
  • The Capture (1950).
    Director: John Sturges.
    Cast: Lew Ayres. Teresa Wright. Victor Jory. Jacqueline White..
  • The Men (1950).
    Director: Fred Zinnemann.
    Cast: Marlon Brando. Teresa Wright. Everett Sloane. Jack Webb.
  • California Conquest (1952).
    Director: Lew Landers.
    Cast: Cornel Wilde. Teresa Wright (pictured, as an unlikely Woman Gunfighter).
  • The Steel Trap (1952).
    Director: Andrew L. Stone.
    Cast: Joseph Cotten. Teresa Wright. Jonathan Hale.
  • Something to Live For (1952).
    Director: George Stevens.
    Cast: Ray Milland. Joan Fontaine. Teresa Wright. Richard Derr.
  • The Actress (1953).
    Director: George Cukor.
    Cast: Spencer Tracy. Jean Simmons. Teresa Wright. Anthony Perkins.
  • Count the Hours (1953).
    Director: Don Siegel.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Macdonald Carey. Dolores Moran. Adele Mara.
  • Track of the Cat (1954).
    Director: William A. Wellman.
    Cast: Robert Mitchum. Teresa Wright. Tab Hunter. Diana Lynn. Beulah Bondi.
  • The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956).
    Director: Noel Langley.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Louis Hayward. Nancy Gates. Kenneth Tobey.
  • Escapade in Japan (1957).
    Director: Arthur Lubin.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Cameron Mitchell. Jon Provost.
  • The Restless Years (1958).
    Director: Helmut Käutner.
    Cast: John Saxon. Sandra Dee. Teresa Wright. James Whitmore.
  • Hail, Hero! (1969).
    Director: David Miller.
    Cast: Michael Douglas. Arthur Kennedy. Teresa Wright.
  • The Happy Ending (1969).
    Director: Richard Brooks.
    Cast: Jean Simmons. John Forsythe. Bobby Darin. Shirley Jones. Teresa Wright. Lloyd Bridges.
  • Roseland (1977).
    Director: James Ivory.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Lou Jacobi. Geraldine Chaplin. Christopher Walken. Conrad Janis. Lilia Skala. David Thomas.
  • Somewhere in Time (1980).
    Director: Jeannot Szwarc.
    Cast: Christopher Reeve. Jane Seymour. Christopher Plummer. Teresa Wright.
  • The Good Mother (1988).
    Director: Leonard Nimoy.
    Cast: Diane Keaton. Liam Neeson. Jason Robards. Ralph Bellamy. Teresa Wright.
  • The Red Coat (1993; short film).
    Director: Robin Swicord.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Annabeth Gish. Jeff Yagher.
  • The Rainmaker (1997).
    Director: Francis Ford Coppola.
    Cast: Matt Damon. Danny DeVito. Claire Danes. Jon Voight. Mary Kay Place. Dean Stockwell. Teresa Wright. Virginia Madsen.
Woman gunfighter Teresa WrightWoman gunfighter Teresa Wright in ‘California Conquest.’

Teresa Wright movies that might have been

Below is a partial list of movies or movie projects (that never got made) that just might have featured Teresa Wright.[8]

  • Henry King’s The Song of Bernadette (1943). According to modern sources, Teresa Wright, Anne Baxter, Gene Tierney, and Linda Darnell were all vying for the role of Bernadette Soubirous. Jennifer Jones was eventually cast and took home that year’s Best Actress Academy Award.
  • Bid for Happiness (1943). An unrealized Samuel Goldwyn project based on a radio production starring Helen Hayes.
  • Lewis Milestone’s The North Star (1943). Pregnancy interfered. Replaced by Anne Baxter.
  • Lewis Allen’s Those Endearing Young Charms (1945). Laraine Day was cast.
  • John Cromwell’s The Enchanted Cottage (1945). Dorothy McGuire was cast. As seen in the previous post, Teresa Wright would get to play Laura Pennington in a 1955 episode of the anthology series Lux Video Theatre.
  • King Vidor’s Duel in the Sun (1946). Pregnancy interfered. Replaced by Hedy Lamarr, who also turned out to be pregnant. The role eventually went to Jennifer Jones, who received a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
  • Secrets (1947). This Samuel Goldwyn project was announced as a Teresa Wright vehicle, to co-star Dana Andrews and to be filmed in color. The project never got off the ground. Norma Talmadge and Eugene O’Brien had starred in a quite successful 1924 version directed by Frank Borzage. The 1933 sound remake, also directed by Borzage and co-starring Leslie Howard, happened to be Mary Pickford’s last film.
  • Henry Koster’s The Bishop’s Wife (1947). Pregnancy interfered at the last minute. Loretta Young was Wright’s replacement in this Oscar-nominated box office hit.
  • Mark Robson’s My Foolish Heart (1949). Wright was fired by Samuel Goldwyn in December 1948. Later on, Susan Hayward stepped in and received a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
  • William Wyler’s Friendly Persuasion (1956). Wright was considered for the role after things didn’t work out for Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Jean Arthur, and Ingrid Bergman. Other potential contenders were Martha Scott, Eleanor Parker, Mary Martin, Maureen O’Hara, and Jane Wyman. Ultimately, the role of Gary Cooper’s Quaker wife went to Dorothy McGuire.
  • Delbert Mann’s The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960). Wright starred in William Inge’s 1957 play on Broadway; Dorothy McGuire landed the female lead in the movie version.
  • Arthur Penn’s The Miracle Worker (1962). Wright played Anne Sullivan opposite Patty McCormack’s Helen Keller in Penn’s 1957 Playhouse 90 episode that led to the Broadway hit and the film version. Anne Bancroft portrayed Sullivan opposite Patty Duke as Keller both on stage and on film, winning both a Tony and an Oscar.
Teresa Wright Mrs. Miniver Richard NeyTeresa Wright in Mrs. Miniver with Richard Ney, Greer Garson’s husband-to-be.

‘Teresa Wright: One of the Earliest Surviving Oscar Winners’ notes

[1] After suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years, Robert Anderson died at age 91 on Feb. 9, ’09, in Manhattan.

Anderson was twice nominated in the Academy Awards’ Best Adapted Screenplay category: for the Fred Zinnemann-directed The Nun’s Story (1959), starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter Finch, and for his adaptation of his own play, I Never Sang for My Father (1970), starring Melvyn Douglas, Gene Hackman, and Estelle Parsons.

Anderson lost to, respectively, Neil Paterson for Room at the Top and Ring Lardner Jr. for MASH.

An earlier draft of this post erroneously stated that, after divorcing Robert Anderson, Teresa Wright was briefly married to actor Carlos Pierre (apparently the one featured in Bryan Forbes’ 1968 crime drama Deadfall) – before remarrying Anderson and divorcing him a second time.

The source for this erroneous information was The Independent‘s Teresa Wright obit. The Los Angeles Times also published the same error, before issuing a retraction.

Jonah Smith

[2] Jonah Smith produced / co-produced Matthew Ryan Hoge’s political drama The United States of Leland (2003); Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream (2000), which garnered Ellen Burstyn a Best Actress Academy Award nomination; Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly (2006); and the documentary Religulous (2008), in which Bill Maher discusses modern-day religions.

According to the IMDb, Smith’s current film project is The Edukators.

Ellen Burstyn lost the 2000 Best Actress Oscar to Julia Roberts for Steven Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich.

The ‘Enchantment,’ ‘Somewhere in Time’ and ‘Titanic’ connection

[3] As mentioned in the previous post, Somewhere in Time features a key motif – a piece of jewelry that “travels” through time – that is also found, albeit in less “mystical” fashion, in the 1948 Teresa Wright movie Enchantment.

Whether or not a coincidence, the same motif is also found in both James Cameron’s Titanic and, without an actual romantic connection, in Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia.

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

In Cameron’s film, Old Rose (Gloria Stuart) throws her pearl necklace – with its coveted (by treasure hunter Bill Paxton) Heart of the Ocean diamond – into the ocean the night she dies. That’s when, as her youthful self (Kate Winslet), she is finally reunited with her long-dead lover Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the Great Beyond.

In Julie & Julia, blogger and cooking aficionado Julie (Amy Adams) wears the signature pearl necklace of chef Julia Child (Meryl Streep).

David Bordwell discusses the Julie & JuliaEnchantment connection on his blog. The Somewhere in TimeTitanic connection is detailed on a website devoted to the 1980 cult classic.

Teresa Wright The Good Mother Ralph BellamyTeresa Wright and Ralph Bellamy in ‘The Good Mother.’

Oscar nominees and winners

[4] Prior to Teresa Wright, the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winners were:

  • Gale Sondergaard (1899-1985) for Anthony Adverse, 1936.
  • Alice Brady (1892-1939) for In Old Chicago, 1937.
  • Fay Bainter (1893-1968) for Jezebel, 1938.
  • Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952) for Gone with the Wind, 1939.
  • Jane Darwell (1879-1967) for The Grapes of Wrath, 1940.
  • Mary Astor (1906-1987) for The Great Lie, 1941.

[5] The 1942 Oscar-nominated performers were:

  • Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty, and Henry Travers for Mrs. Miniver.
  • Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright for The Pride of the Yankees.
  • Ronald Colman and Susan Peters for Random Harvest.
  • Bette Davis and Gladys Cooper for Now, Voyager.
  • James Cagney and Walter Huston for Yankee Doodle Dandy.
  • Katharine Hepburn for Woman of the Year.
  • Van Heflin for Johnny Eager.
  • William Bendix for Wake Island.
  • Rosalind Russell for My Sister Eileen.
  • Agnes Moorehead for The Magnificent Ambersons.
  • Frank Morgan for Tortilla Flat.
  • Monty Woolley for The Pied Piper.

The 1941 Oscar-nominated performers were:

  • Bette Davis, Teresa Wright, and Patricia Collinge for The Little Foxes.
  • Gary Cooper, Margaret Wycherly, and Walter Brennan for Sergeant York.
  • Robert Montgomery and James Gleason for Here Comes Mr. Jordan.
  • Donald Crisp and Sara Allgood for How Green Was My Valley.
  • Joan Fontaine for Suspicion.
  • Olivia de Havilland for Hold Back the Dawn.
  • Greer Garson for Blossoms in the Dust.
  • Barbara Stanwyck for Ball of Fire.
  • Sydney Greenstreet for The Maltese Falcon.
  • Charles Coburn for The Devil and Miss Jones.
  • Mary Astor for The Great Lie.
  • Orson Welles for Citizen Kane.
  • Walter Huston for The Devil and Daniel Webster / All That Money Can Buy.
  • Cary Grant for Penny Serenade.

Joan Fontaine died at age 96 on December 15, 2013.

Pre-1960 Oscar nominees still alive

[6] The surviving pre-1960 Oscar nominees in the acting categories (as of March 2015) are:

  • Olivia de Havilland (Gone with the Wind, 1939; Hold Back the Dawn, 1941; winner for To Each His Own, 1946; The Snake Pit, 1948; winner for The Heiress, 1949).
  • Angela Lansbury (Gaslight, 1944; The Picture of Dorian Grey, 1945).*
  • Ann Blyth (Mildred Pierce, 1945).
  • Kirk Douglas (Champion, 1949; The Bad and the Beautiful, 1952; Lust for Life, 1956).
  • Nancy Olson (Sunset Blvd., 1950).
  • Lee Grant (Detective Story, 1951).*
  • Colette Marchand (Moulin Rouge, 1952). Update: Marchand died on June 5, ’15.
  • Terry Moore (Come Back, Little Sheba, 1952).
  • Leslie Caron (Lili, 1953).*
  • Eva Marie Saint (winner for On the Waterfront, 1954).
  • Marisa Pavan (The Rose Tattoo, 1955).
  • Carroll Baker (Baby Doll, 1956).
  • Dorothy Malone (winner for Written on the Wind, 1956).
  • Patty McCormack (The Bad Seed, 1956).
  • Don Murray (Bus Stop, 1956).
  • Joanne Woodward (winner for The Three Faces of Eve, 1957).*
  • Russ Tamblyn (Peyton Place, 1957).
  • Shirley MacLaine (Some Came Running, 1958).*
  • Sidney Poitier (The Defiant Ones, 1958).*
  • Cara Williams (The Defiant Ones, 1958).
  • Theodore Bikel (The Defiant Ones, 1958).
  • Doris Day (Pillow Talk, 1959).
  • Susan Kohner (Imitation of Life, 1959).
  • Robert Vaughn (The Young Philadelphians, 1959).

* Angela Lansbury was also nominated for The Manchurian Candidate, 1962.

Lee Grant was also nominated for The Landlord, 1970; and Voyage of the Damned, 1976. She won for Shampoo, 1975.

Leslie Caron was also nominated for The L-Shaped Room, 1963.

Joanne Woodward was also nominated for Rachel, Rachel, 1968; Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams, 1973; Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, 1990.

Shirley MacLaine was also nominated for The Apartment, 1960; Irma La Douce, 1963; and The Turning Point, 1977. She won for Terms of Endearment, 1983.

Sidney Poitier was also nominated (and won) for Lilies of the Field, 1963.

Teresa Wright in ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’

[7] Teresa Wright was featured in two 1964 episodes of the anthology TV series The Alfred Hitchcock Hour:

  • Three Wives Too Many
    Director: Joseph M. Newman.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Dan Duryea. Linda Lawson. Jean Hale.
  • Lonely Place
    Director: Harvey Hart.
    Cast: Teresa Wright. Pat Buttram. Bruce Dern.

Also, in 1979 Wright was in attendance at the American Film Institute’s Alfred Hitchcock tribute.

[8] One of the sources used for the list of Teresa Wright would-be movies was Eila Mell’s Casting Might-Have-Beens.

Note: In a first draft of this post, in the Teresa Wright filmography section, Jacques Tourneur was incorrectly listed as the director of Pursued. That year, Tourneur did indeed direct Robert Mitchum, but in Out of the Past, with Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, and Rhonda Fleming.

Teresa Wright filmography via the IMDb.

Shadow of a Doubt quote: IMDb.

Richard Ney and Teresa Wright Mrs. Miniver image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Shadow of a Doubt poster: Universal Pictures.

Teresa Wright California Conquest image: Columbia Pictures.

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