Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dead Celebrity of the Month, September 2006: Teresa Wright

Muriel Teresa Wright was born on October 27th 1918 on the isle of Manhatten. Growing up under some privlage she lived mostley in New Jersey and later attended Columbia High School where she developed an intrest in acting. In 1938 she landed a postion as understudy for the role of Emily in the broadway production of Thornton Wilder's 'Our Town', a role she took on full-time after lead Martha Scott left for Hollywood to make the film version.

Spotted by one of Samuel Goldwyn's talent scouts during her her two year run as Mary in the play 'Life with Father', the young actress was offerd a contract at MGM. However Teresa was not the starving, desperate actress type, she came from money and her future was secure, so in order to add her to the studio's "Galaxy of Stars", MGM had to agree to a few, rather unusual for the time, contract stipulations. Primary among these was the young actresses refusal to participate in any of the "Cheesecake" photographs so popular at the time. From her contract: "The aforementioned Teresa Wright shall not be required to pose for photographs in a bathing suit unless she is in the water. <> running on the beach with her hair flying in the wind. <> In shorts, playing with a cocker spaniel; digging in a garden; whipping up a meal; attired in firecrackers and holding skyrockets for the Fourth of July <>" ect, ect. No "Sweater Girl" was she.

Teresa's career started out on fire, she recieved Academy Award nominations for each of her first three films (an acomplishment still never duplicated), 1941's The Little Foxes, and from 1942 The Pride of the Yankees and Mrs. Miniver, winning the best supporting actress award for the later playing Greer Garsons daughter-in-law. The following year she appered in Hitch's Shadow of a Doubt, and the year after that in the mostely forgotten Casanova Brown. In 1946 she re-teamed with Mrs. Miniver director William Wyler for his post-war drama, The Best Years of Our Lives, playing the daughter of Fredr
ic March and Mryna Loy.

Stubborn and oppinanted for a leading lady of her time, always demanding a good measure of control over her career, Teresa Wright eventully lost her MGM contract. She became something of a free againt and appered regularly on television (nominated for an Emmy in 1957 for The Miracle Worker) and occasionaly in movies after about 1950. She even returned to the stage, notably in a 1975 revival of 'Death of a Salesman'. Seemingly always available for retrospectives or as a documentary 'talking head', Ms. Wright made her final feature film apperance in Coppala's The Rain Maker in 1997.

Teresa Wright passed away as a result of a heart attack, in a New Haven Connecticut hospital on March 6th 2005. She was twice married, to screenwriter Niven Busch (The Postman Always Rings Twice) 1942-1952, and playwright Robert Anderson (The Sand Pebbles) 1959-1978, both marriages ended in divorce. She had two children.


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