Shelley Winters

shelley winters

Let’s all take a moment to remember Shelley Winters.

Shelley was born Shirley Schrift in St. Louis, Missouri. She became a big star, who won not one but two Oscars.

And she was a hot tomato and a sharp cookie to boot.

Shelley Winters Story #1:

Back in the 1980s, a director wanted her for a movie, but insisted that she read for the part. Fine, she said. She arrived at the reading with a backpack. She sat down and removed from the backpack: 1) a copy of the script; 2) an Oscar, which she put on the floor to the left of her; 3) an Oscar, which she put on the floor to the right of her.

She got the part.

Shelley Winters Story #2:

Elizabeth Ashley, the memorable actress who revived Maggie the Cat on Broadway, was wondering whether or not she should marry James Farentino. She asked Shelley’s advice. “Honey,” Shelley said, “if you ever have the opportunity, you should marry an Italian. I’ve done it twice, and I’ve never regretted it.”

(In case you’re wondering: Shelley married both Vittorio Gassman and Tony Franciosa. Neither marriage more than a few years, but I’m sure a good time was had by all.)

Shelley Winters Story #3:

Shelley went to Italy to film a movie, and asked a writer friend to housesit for her. After being in Italy for a week or so, she realized with horror that she hadn’t given her friend instructions on what to do with the garbage (the local rules were very strict). She called her house, and a strange man (with a strangely familiar voice) answered. “Is George there?” Shelley asked.

“George went out for a few minutes,” the strange man said. “We’re working on a book together.”

“Okay,” Shelley said. “I don’t care. As long as you’re there, can you do me a favor? Go out and drag the garbage cans to the curb. The neighborhood is very strict about this.”

The man on the phone paused and then said: “Okay.” He came back after a few minutes. “All done.”

“Would you do me a favor?” Shelley said in her most kittenish voice. “Would you go out and hose off the sidewalk? They’re kind of fanatical about that in the neighborhood too.”

Another pause. “Okay,” the strange man said. And he came back in a few minutes and said, “All done.”

And Shelley thanked him, and hung up the phone.

Guess who the strange man was?

Richard Nixon.

Shelley Winters made Richard Nixon take out her trash, and then made him hose off the sidewalk.

My kind of woman!

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