Born Shirley Schrift on August 18, 1920, in East St. Louis, Illinois, glamorous actress Shelley Winters grew up in New York and worked as a model. After taking acting lessons, she landed a studio contract with Columbia in the early 1940s, but the studio didn't give her the build-up she deserved. After leaving Columbia and continuing to work on her craft, the talented Winters began landing better roles in such films as A Double Life (1947; with Ronald Colman) and The Great Gatsby (1949; with Alan Ladd). Interestingly, Winters and Marilyn Monroe were roommates in the late 1940s, and in later years Winters was occasionally interviewed about her friendship with Monroe. Also in the late 1940s, she signed a long-term contract with Universal-International, where she starred in such westerns as Winchester '73 (1950; with James Stewart) and Frenchie (1951; with Joel McCrea).

Shelley WintersLee Marvin, Julie Christie, Shelley Winters, and Martin Balssam

LEFT: Late 1940s cheesecake photo of Shelley Winters. RIGHT: With fellow Oscar winners Lee Marvin, Julie Christie, and Martin Balsam in 1966

Her best role during this period came when Universal loaned her out to Paramount for A Place in the Sun (1951; with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift); her performance as Alice Tripp netted her an Oscar nomination for best actress. Winters later won two best supporting Oscars for The Diary of Anne Frank (1959; with Millie Perkins) and A Patch of Blue (1965; with Sidney Poitier). She was also nominated for best supporting actress for her role in The Poseidon Adventure (1972; with Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, and Carol Lynley). With roles for older actresses being few and far between, by the late 1960s Winters kept busy in a string of low-budget pictures, including Wild in the Streets (1968; with Christopher Jones) and Bloody Mama (1970; with Don Stroud). In the 1970s and 1980s, Winters continued making B movies, with occasional A pictures thrown in as well. Some of my favorites from this period include Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971; with Ralph Richardson), Cleopatra Jones (1973; with Tamara Dobson), Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976; with Christopher Walken), and Tentacles (1977; with Henry Fonda and Cesare Danova).

the films of shelley winters

A Place in the Sun (1951)

Shelley Winters and Montgomery Clift

With Montgomery Clift in Paramount's brilliant noir drama A Place in the Sun

Behave Yourself! (1952)

Farley Granger and Shelley Winters

With Farley Granger in the RKO comedy Behave Yourself!. Winters had a lengthy romance with Farley Granger in the 1950s

My Man and I (1952)

Ricardo Montalban and Shelley Winters

With Ricardo Montalban in My Man and I

Playgirl (1954)

Colleen Miller and Shelley Winters

With Colleen Miller in the noirish Universal drama Playgirl

Saskatchewan (1954)

Hugh O'Brian and Shelley Winters

From the Universal-International western Saskatchewan with Hugh O'Brian

Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960)

Ricardo Montalban and Shelley Winters

With Ricardo Montalban in the drama Let No Man Write My Epitaph

A Patch of Blue (1965)

Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Hartman, and Sidney Poitier

Shelley Winters' performance in A Patch of Blue won her an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The above photo includes Elizabeth Hartman and Sidney Poitier

Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968)

Phil Silvers and Shelley WintersGina Lollobrigida and Shelley Winters

Images from Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell. LEFT: With Phil Silvers. RIGHT: With Gina Lollobrigida

The Scalphunters (1968)

Shelley Winters and Ossie DavisTelly Savalas and Shelley Winters

Images from The Scalphunters. LEFT: With Ossie Davis. RIGHT: with Telly Savalas

Bloody Mama (1970)

Shelley WintersDon Stroud and Shelley WintersDon Stroud Diane Varsi, and Shelley WintersClint Kimbrough, Robert Walden, Shelley Winters, Don Stroud, and Robert DeNiro

Images from Bloody Mama, released by American International in 1970. LEFT: Winters as Ma Barker. CENTER A: Ma Barker has an unusually close relationship with her son Herman (Don Stroud). CENTER B: Ma Barker is jealous of the woman Herman has picked up. RIGHT: Ma Barker with her sons, including Clint Kimbrough, Robert Walden, Don Stroud, and Robert DeNiro

What's the Matter With Helen? (1971)

Shelley Winters and Debbie ReynoldsAgnes Moorehead and Shelley Winters

LEFT: With Debbie Reynolds in the United Artists horror flick What's the Matter With Helen?. RIGHT: With Agnes Moorehead

Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971)

Shelley WintersMichael Gothard, Shelley Winters, and Chloe FranksShelley Winters and Mark Lester

Images from American International's Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?. LEFT: Winters as Rosie Forrest, "Auntie Roo." CENTER: With Michael Gothard and Chloe Franks. RIGHT: With Mark Lester

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Jack Albertson, Ernest Borgnine, Roddy McDowall, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Stella Stevens, Arthur O'Connell, Shelley Winters, Gene Hackman, and Pamela Sue Martin

From the 20th Century Fox thriller The Poseidon Adventure. Pictured are Jack Albertson, Ernest Borgnine, Roddy McDowall, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Stella Stevens, Arthur O'Connell, Shelley Winters, Gene Hackman, and Pamela Sue Martin

Adventures of Nick Carter (1972)

Shelley Winters and Robert Conrad

From the ABC TV thriller Adventures of Nick Carter with Robert Conrad

Cleopatra Jones (1973)

Shelley Winters and Lisa Farringer

Shelley Winters as the drug lord "Mommy" in the Warner Bros. blaxploitation classic Cleopatra Jones. This film also starred Tamara Dobson

The Sex Symbol (1974)

Shelley Winters and Connie Stevens

From the ABC TV movie The Sex Symbol. Connie Stevens stars as doomed actress Kelly Williams and Winters portrays Hollywood gossip columnist Agatha Murphy

Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976)

Lenny Baker and Shelley Winters

With Lenny Baker in Next Stop, Greenwich Village

later years

Married four times, Winters' most famous husbands were Vittorio Gassman, the father of her daughter (1952 to 1954) and Anthony Franciosa (1957 to 1960). Whereas many of her 1950s contemporaries faded from view, Winters kept her acting career strong through the 1990s, doing several films and taking a recurring role on ABC's Roseanne. She retired from acting in 1999 when her health began to fail, confining her to a wheelchair. After suffering a heart attack in October 2005, Shelley Winters passed away on January 14, 2006, at the age of 85, just hours after her fourth marriage. She was survived by her fourth husband, daughter Vittoria, and two grandchildren.

Winters penned two tell-all biographies in the 1980s, Shelley, Also Known as Shirley and Shelley II: The Middle of My Century. More information is located in the Books Available section below.

shelley winters dvds available from

shelley winters books available


La Bomba (1999) with Vittorio Gassman
Gideon (1999) with Charlton Heston, Shirley Jones, and Mike Connors
The Portrait of a Lady (1996) with Nicole Kidman and Christian Bale
Raging Angels (1995) with Diane Ladd
Mrs. Munck (1995) with Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern
Jury Duty (1995) with Pauly Shore and Tia Carrere
Backfire! (1995) with Robert Mitchum, Kathy Ireland, and Telly Savalas
Heavy (1995) with Liv Tyler and Debbie Harry
The Silence of the Hams (1995) with Dom DeLuise, Charlene Tilton, Phyllis Diller, Larry Storch, and Rip Taylor
The Pickle (1993) with Danny Aiello, Dyan Cannon, and Little Richard
Weep No More, My Lady (1992) with Daniel J. Travanti
Stepping Out (1991) with Liza Minnelli
Touch of a Stranger (1990)
An Unremarkable Life (1989) with Patricia Neal
Purple People Eater (1988) with Neil Patrick Harris, Ned Beatty, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, and Peggy Lipton
Very Close Quarters (1986) with Theodore Bikel and Farley Granger
Witchfire (1986)
The Delta Force (1986) with Chuck Norris, Lee Marvin, and Lainie Kazan
Alice in Wonderland (1985) with Lloyd Bridges
Deja Vu (1985) with Jaclyn Smith and Claire Bloom
Ellie (1984) with Pat Paulsen and George Gobel
Over the Brooklyn Bridge (1984) with Elliott Gould and Margaux Hemingway
Fanny Hill (1983) with Oliver Reed and Lisa Foster
Looping (1981)
S.O.B. (1981) with Julie Andrews, William Holden, and Craig Stevens
The Magician of Lublin (1979) with Alan Arkin, Valerie Perrine, and Louise Fletcher
City on Fire (1979) with James Franciscus, Henry Fonda, Susan Clark, and Barry Newman
The Visitor (1979) with Mel Ferrer and Glenn Ford
Elvis (1979) with Kurt Russell and Season Hubley
King of the Gypsies (1978) with Sterling Hayden and Susan Sarandon
The Initiation of Sarah (1978) with Kay Lenz, Robert Hays, Morgan Fairchild, and Morgan Brittany
Black Journal (1977) with Laura Antonelli and Rita Tushingham
Pete's Dragon (1977) with Mickey Rooney, Helen Reddy, and Jeff Conaway
An Average Little Man (1977)
Tentacles (1977) with Henry Fonda, Bo Hopkins, and Cesare Danova
La Dahlia scarlatta (1976)
The Tenant (1976) with Roman Polanski
Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976) with Christopher Walken, Lenny Baker, and Antonio Fargas
That Lucky Touch (1975) with Roger Moore
Diamonds (1975) with Richard Roundtree and Robert Shaw
Journey Into Fear (1975) with Sam Waterston, Vincent Price, Donald Pleasence, and Yvette Mimieux
Poor Pretty Eddie (1975) with Leslie Uggams and Ted Cassidy
The Sex Symbol (1974) with Connie Stevens, William Castle, Don Murray, and William Smith
Big Rose: Double Trouble (1974) with Paul Mantee
Blume in Love (1973) with George Segal
Cleopatra Jones (1973) with Tamara Dobson, Bernie Casey, and Antonio Fargas
The Devil's Daughter (1973) with Jonathan Frid and Diane Ladd
Something to Hide (1972) with Peter Finch
The Poseidon Adventure (1972) with Ernest Borgnine, Carol Lynley, and Stella Stevens
Adventures of Nick Carter (1972) with Robert Conrad, Jaye P. Morgan, and Broderick Crawford
What's the Matter with Helen? (1971) with Debbie Reynolds, Dennis Weaver, and Yvette Vickers
Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1971) with Mark Lester, Ralph Richardson, and Lionel Jeffries
A Death of Innocence (1971) with Ann Sothern and Tisha Sterling
Revenge (1971) with Stuart Whitman and Bradford Dillman
How Do I Love Thee? (1970) with Jackie Gleason and Maureen O'Hara
Flap (1970) with Anthony Quinn and Claude Akins
Bloody Mama (1970) with Don Stroud, Bruce Dern, Robert Walden, Diane Varsi, Robert De Niro, and Alex Nicol
Arthur! Arthur! (1969) with Donald Pleasence
The Mad Room (1969) with Stella Stevens and Beverly Garland
Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968) with Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lawford, and Phil Silvers
Wild in the Streets (1968) with Diane Varsi, Christopher Jones, and Hal Holbrook
The Scalphunters (1968) with Burt Lancaster, Telly Savalas, Ossie Davis, and Dan Vadis
Enter Laughing (1967) with Jose Ferrer, Nancy Kovack, and Elaine May
The Three Sisters (1966) with Geraldine Page, Sandy Dennis, Kevin McCarthy, and Kim Stanley
Alfie (1966) with Michael Caine and Jane Asher
Harper (1966) with Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, and Pamela Tiffin
A Patch of Blue (1965) with Sidney Poitier, Ivan Dixon, and Elizabeth Hartman
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
Time of Indifference (1964) with Claudia Cardinale, Rod Steiger, and Paulette Goddard
A House Is Not a Home (1964) with Mickey Shaughnessy and Kaye Ballard
The Balcony (1963) with Peter Falk, Lee Grant, and Joyce Jameson
Wives and Lovers (1963) with Martha Hyer, Van Johnson, and Janet Leigh
The Chapman Report (1962) with Ray Danton, Ty Hardin, Jane Fonda, Glynis Johns, and Alex Cord
Lolita (1962) with James Mason, Sue Lyons, and Lois Maxwell
The Young Savages (1961) with Burt Lancaster and Dina Merrill
Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960) with Ricardo Montalban, Burl Ives, and James Darren
Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) with Harry Belafonte, Gloria Grahame, and Robert Ryan
The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) with Millie Perkins and Diane Baker
I Am a Camera (1955) with Laurence Harvey, Julie Harris, and Vince Edwards
The Treasure of Pancho Villa (1955) with Rory Calhoun and Gilbert Roland
I Died a Thousand Times (1955) with Jack Palance, Lori Nelson, and Lon Chaney Jr.
The Big Knife (1955) with Jack Palance, Wendell Corey, and Ida Lupino
The Night of the Hunter (1955) with Robert Mitchum and Peter Graves
Mambo (1954) with Vittorio Gassman and Michael Rennie
Tennessee Champ (1954) with Keenan Wynn, Dewey Martin, and Dave O'Brien
To Dorothy a Son (1954) with Peggy Cummins
Playgirl (1954) with Barry Sullivan, Mara Corday, Colleen Miller, Richard Long, and Kent Taylor
Executive Suite (1954) with William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, and June Allyson
Saskatchewan (1954) with Alan Ladd, Hugh O'Brian, and Richard Long
My Man and I (1952) with Ricardo Montalban and Wendell Corey
Untamed Frontier (1952) with Joseph Cotten, Scott Brady, Suzan Ball, and Lee Van Cleef
Meet Danny Wilson (1952) with Frank Sinatra, Alex Nicol, and Raymond Burr
Phone Call from a Stranger (1952) with Bette Davis, Gary Merrill, Hugh Beaumont, and Michael Rennie
Behave Yourself! (1951) with Farley Granger and Lon Chaney Jr.
The Raging Tide (1951) with Richard Conte and Alex Nicol
A Place in the Sun (1951) with Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Raymond Burr
He Ran All the Way (1951) with John Garfield
Frenchie (1951) with Joel McCrea, Marie Windsor, Elsa Lanchester, and John Russell
Winchester '73 (1950) with James Stewart and Rock Hudson
Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949) with Howard Duff and Tony Curtis
South Sea Sinner (1949) with Macdonald Carey
Take One False Step (1949) with William Powell
The Great Gatsby (1949) with Alan Ladd and Macdonald Carey
Cry of the City (1948) with Victor Mature, Richard Conte, and Debra Paget
A Double Life (1947) with Ronald Colman and Whit Bissell
Larceny (1947) with John Payne
Tonight and Every Night (1945) with Rita Hayworth
A Thousand and One Nights (1945) with Adele Jergens, Cornel Wilde, and Evelyn Keyes
Sailor's Holiday (1944) with Arthur Lake
Knickerbocker Holiday (1944) with Nelson Eddy and Percy Kilbride
What a Woman! (1943) with Rosalind Russell, Brian Aherne, and Ann Savage

Roseanne, 1988-1997 ABC TV series. Winters had a recurring role as Nana Mary from 1991 through 1997

shelley winters film now showing

Watch Shelley Winters' 1947 noir thriller A Double Life
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