Thelma Ritter

Actor
Character actress who after many unrewarded years on the stage enjoyed almost immediate, and enduring, success following her film debut in the late 1940s. Usually in the role of the sardonic chorus figure, strewing ... Read more »
Born: 02/13/1905 in Brooklyn, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (24)

What's So Bad About Feeling Good? 1968 (Movie)

Mrs Schwartz (Actor)

The Incident 1967 (Movie)

Bertha Beckerman (Actor)

Boeing Boeing 1965 (Movie)

Bertha (Actor)

A New Kind of Love 1962 (Movie)

Lena O'Connor (Actor)

Birdman of Alcatraz 1962 (Movie)

Elizabeth Stroud (Actor)

For Love or Money 1962 (Movie)

Chloe Brasher (Actor)

Move Over, Darling 1962 (Movie)

Grace Arden (Actor)

The Misfits 1961 (Movie)

Isabelle Steers (Actor)

The Second Time Around 1961 (Movie)

Aggie (Actor)

Pillow Talk 1959 (Movie)

Alma (Actor)

A Hole in the Head 1958 (Movie)

Sophie Manetta (Actor)

The Proud and the Profane 1956 (Movie)

Kate Connors (Actor)

Daddy Long Legs 1955 (Movie)

Miss Prichard (Actor)

Lucy Gallant 1955 (Movie)

Molly Basserman (Actor)

Rear Window 1954 (Movie)

Stella (Actor)

Pickup on South Street 1953 (Movie)

Moe (Actor)

All About Eve 1950 (Movie)

Birdie (Actor)

As Young As You Feel 1950 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Letter to Three Wives 1947 (Movie)

Sadie Dugan (Actor)

Miracle on 34th Street 1947 (Movie)

Mother (Actor)

City Across the River (Movie)

Mrs. Cusack (Actor)

The Mating Season (Movie)

Ellen McNulty (Actor)

The Model and the Marriage Broker (Movie)

Mae Swazey (Actor)

With a Song in My Heart (Movie)

Clancy (Actor)

Biography

Character actress who after many unrewarded years on the stage enjoyed almost immediate, and enduring, success following her film debut in the late 1940s. Usually in the role of the sardonic chorus figure, strewing films with witty asides and cynical observations, Ritter enlivened a host of excellent productions and earned her place as one of the best character players the screen has ever known. Ritter earned six Academy Award nominations as best supporting actress: "All About Even" (1950), "The Mating Season" (1951), "With a Song in My Heart" (1952), "Pickup on South Street" (1953), "Pillow Talk" (1959), and "The Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962). Ritter's first screen role was in "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947) playing the mother sent from Macy's to Gimbel's by Kris Kringle. In "All About Eve" (1950), she was Birdie, the ex-vaudevillian ("I closed the first half for 11 years and you know it!"), who now is Margo Channing's maid and companion and who utters the immortal line, "What a story. Everything but the bloodhounds yapping at her rear end." That hard edge came to use in "Titanic" (1953), when she was the Unsinkable Molly Brown, playing cards as the ship begins to sink. In "Rear Window" (1954), she was Jimmy Stewart's housekeeper, in "Pillow Talk" (1959), her witticisms stole scenes from Doris Day, and in "A Hole in the Head" (1959), she was Frank Sinatra's understanding sister-in-law. In "How the West Was Won" (1962), Ritter was a spinster traveling to the west with Debbie Reynolds, and in "A New Kind of Love" (1963), a fashion designer alongside Joanne Woodward -- a job one might never imagine Ritter doing in real life. In film after film, her presence was the highlight of the picture, and although she was more than 40 before she stepped before a camera, Ritter eventually worked with virtually every major director of her period (Hitchcock, Mankiewicz, etc.) and every major star (Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, etc.) stealing scenes from most of them. Ritter began working in TV regularly about the mid-50s. One of her earliest roles was in the 1955 "Goodyear TV Playhouse: A Catered Affair," written by Paddy Chayefsky. In a role that was eventually played by Bette Davis on the big screen, Ritter was a mother who can't keep her daughter's wedding small. She appeared on other anthology programs and made occasional appearances on Jack Paar's late-night talk show.

Relationships

Joseph Moran

Husband
survived her

Monica Moran

Daughter
survived her

Milestones

1968

Made final film, "What's So Bad About Feeling Good?"

1955

Originated role of mother in Paddy Chayefsky's "The Catered Affair" on TV (NBC)

1953

Played the Unsinkable Molly Brown in "Titanic"

1950

Had first Academy Award nomination as best supporting actress for "All About Eve"

1947

Made screen debut in small role in "Miracle on 34th Street"

SIMILAR ARTICLES