Thelma Ritter – Everywoman’s Actor

Day 274 of Colourisation Project – February 5

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

She is one of the most nominated actors who never won the coveted Oscar statuette – a distinction she holds along with Deborah Kerr and Glenn Close, who have all been nominated six times.

“Always the bridesmaid and never the bride,” is how Thelma Ritter described it.

Thelma Ritter

Photographer Unknown  ~ Thelma Ritter  c 1955 ~ Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Frequently cast as sidekick to a leading female star, Ritter was one of the most accomplished character actors in American film. She began her film career with a bit-part in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and for the next 21-years convincingly played numerous variations of her standard salt-of-the-earth, everywoman character.

Despite her many nominations for Best Supporting Actress, Ritter never played any leading roles, however the roles she did play were always memorable.

They included All About Eve (1950) with Bette Davis, Rear Window (1954) with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, Pillow Talk (1959) with Rock Hudson and Doris Day, With a Song in My Heart (1952) with Susan Hayward, Titanic (1953) with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck, The Misfits (1961) with Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe and Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) with Burt Lancaster.

Ritter suffered a heart attack following a performance on the Jerry Lewis Show and subsequently passed away on this day, February, 4 1968, 10 days shy of her 67th birthday.


“When a man and a woman see each other and like each other they ought to come together – wham! Like a couple of taxis on Broadway, not sit around analyzing each other like two specimens in a bottle.”   –   Thelma Ritter as Stella in Rear Window

NOTE: The current record for receiving Oscar nominations without a win is held by Peter O’Toole with eight nominations, followed by Richard Burton with seven nominations. Deborah Kerr and Peter O’Toole however have received honorary awards from the Academy.

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