Today is the 112th birthday of Thelma Ritter. She is one of the actors that will make me want to watch the movie if she is in it, no matter how small. She perfected the working class voice of reason character that kept all the other characters from getting too out of touch. And if they did, she had no problem telling them so. Watch her in “Rear Window” and “The Misfits” and you will want to add every movie she is in to your Netflix queue. Ladies and gentlemen, Thelma Ritter. Style Icon.
BEST KNOWN FOR: American actress. She typically played working class characters and was noted for her distinctive voice, with a strong Brooklyn accent.
Ritter did stock theater and radio shows early in her career, without much impact. Ritter’s first movie role was in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). She made a memorable impression in a brief uncredited part, as a frustrated mother unable to find the toy that Kris Kringle has promised to her son. Her second role, in writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s A Letter to Three Wives (1949), also left a mark, although Ritter was again uncredited.
Mankiewicz kept Ritter in mind, and cast her as “Birdie” in All About Eve (1950), which earned her an Oscar nomination. A second nomination followed for her work in Mitchell Leisen’s’ classic ensemble screwball comedy The Mating Season (1951) starring Gene Tierney and John Lund. Ritter enjoyed steady film work for the next dozen years. She also appeared in many of the episodic drama TV series of the 1950s, such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, General Electric Theater, and The United States Steel Hour. Other film roles were as James Stewart’s nurse in Rear Window (1954) and as Doris Day‘s housekeeper in Pillow Talk (1959). Although best-known for comedy roles, she played the occasional dramatic role, most notably in Pickup on South Street (1953), Titanic (1953), and The Misfits (1961).