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In Memoriam Shelley Winters

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 2:45 am - January 15, 2006.
Filed under: Movies/Film & TV

When I was a kid one of my favorite movies was The Poseidon Adventure. So much did I enjoy the flick that whenever my school took us to concerts at Cincinnati’s Music Hall, I used to imagine what would happen if the hall would flip over as did the S.S. Poseidon in that 1970s film. Where would I end up? How would I escape?

Would a nice Jewish grandmother risk her life to save me as Shelley Winters‘ Belle Rosen swam to help save the passengers who were trying to escape with her? Winters’ Rosen suffered a heart attack and died for her efforts. The boy who accompanied her survived. And Winters earned her fourth Oscar nod.

Twenty-four years after Belle Rosen died, the world has lost the great actress who put so much panache into that character’s dying words. With great sadness, I report that Ms. Wintersdied yesterday. She was 85.

Only long after first seeing this great lady in The Poseidon Adventure would I learn that Shelley Winters was one of the most gifted actresses of the silver screen, delivering, over the years, an incredible number of outstanding performances, winning Oscars for her roles in A Patch of Blue and The Diary of Anne Frank. Her performance as an isolated and frightened young woman in A Place in the Sun, for which she was nominated for an Oscar, was simply heart-breaking.

She demonstrated her talent in wide range of roles. From that sensitive and spurned factory worker in Place in the Sun to the harridan of a mother in A Patch of Blue, she showed a talent that few screen stars had equaled before — or since.

Because many of her films are on DVD, though Shelley Winters has passed, we will long be able to witness (and delight in) the excellence of her craft. And I will always appreciate how one of her great performances so fueled my childhood imagination.

The world has lost a legend, but is grateful for what she left behind.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest):



  1. She was great on Roseanne, as the tough-talking grandmother. She always knew how to shut down her annoying daughter (Estelle Parsons) with one word.

    Comment by Carl — January 15, 2006 @ 4:51 am - January 15, 2006

  2. When I read that, my first thought was “Yeah. The lady from the Poseidon Adventure!”, even though I’ve not seen it all the way through. Then I thought “Surely everybody will remember her for stuff other than that.” So far, that’s the movie mentioned most.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 15, 2006 @ 5:35 am - January 15, 2006

  3. Lolita – Charlotte Haze – the Shelly Winters Cha-Cha!

    Comment by wfoster — January 15, 2006 @ 9:21 am - January 15, 2006

  4. Nice tribute post to a truly gifted actress and luminous Hollywood beauty (of the old school).

    Poseidon Adventure was a kick when I was a teen-ager, but I remember being shocked when my mom told me that she was the same start who had starred in so many of the old movies that mom and I watched, late at night, on a grainy black-and-white portable TV. (My mom, bless her, would bring the TV into my room into my bedroom and wake me up so we could watch together. A bit of unconventionality during that time period, for which I will be everlastingly grateful.)

    So I was privileged to see most of Winters’ work, in “rerun”, as a child druing the ’60s.

    I too, hope she is remembered as more than Belle. I wish we had more like her today.


    Comment by reader_iam — January 15, 2006 @ 9:59 am - January 15, 2006

  5. Me too, Reader Iam, I wish we had more like her.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 15, 2006 @ 12:16 pm - January 15, 2006

  6. Ditto to that last comment.

    Peter Hughes

    Comment by Peter Hughes — January 15, 2006 @ 12:26 pm - January 15, 2006

  7. She played the mother in the Robert Mitchum thriller “Night of the Hunter”. Mitchum kills her and there’s a close-up of her drowned body floating about serenely, eyes open and innocent, while her children are scrambling for their lives in the real world, running from Mitchum’s implacable killer.

    There’s a story I read someplace along the line about Shelley. She caught a boyfriend (whose name escapes me right now) cheating on her. The story is that in the middle of the night she drove her car through several neighbor’s backyards trying to catch the cad and run him down. The image of the boyfriend scampering across yards and leaping frantically over hedges with Shelley snarling and behind the wheel of a careening convertible always makes me smile.

    You go, Shelley! Give ’em hell.

    Comment by NahnCee — January 15, 2006 @ 1:44 pm - January 15, 2006

  8. A truly great broad in the old Hollywood tradition.

    Comment by Kevin — January 15, 2006 @ 3:15 pm - January 15, 2006

  9. I lived in a West Hollywood building where Shelley used the pool to practice her swimming before the Poseidon role. A few people living there remembered her visits (her make up artist, or something like that, had an apartment there). Anyway, I remember them saying she was a hoot, telling stories about old hollywood, and swearing like a sailor all the time. Wish I could have been there……

    Comment by Daniel — January 15, 2006 @ 5:32 pm - January 15, 2006

  10. I find myself wondering if Winters avoided the Method Acting craze of the 50’s. She was so good that she made it seem as if she didn’t need any “method” at all, but of course that’s probably just a tribute to her talent. Another giant has left us.

    Comment by Campagna — January 15, 2006 @ 9:25 pm - January 15, 2006

  11. Shelley Winters…some of my fave memories of her were when she appeared on the Tonight Show w Johnny Carson. She was hysterical and Johnny seemed always afraid she’d let go with a GD or F bomb. Her funny stories of the “old” hollywood were a hoot.

    Comment by Gene — January 15, 2006 @ 11:18 pm - January 15, 2006

  12. Shelley Winters wasn’t just an actress. She was a bigger than life star in the glamorous old Hollywood — a Hollywood we miss and are not likely to see again.

    I think I’ve seen every film she made, some many times, and enjoyed them all. But I will remember her most as Roseanne’s grandmother.

    I doubt that she needed the money. I always figured she took the TV role because she could play herself — a tough, old broad who saw life and people as they really are and wasn’t shy about saying so.

    God bless her soul.

    Comment by Jack Allen — January 15, 2006 @ 11:48 pm - January 15, 2006

  13. #s 4,5,7,8 &9

    I’ll drink to that.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 16, 2006 @ 1:42 am - January 16, 2006

  14. Anyone remember her appearance on the old “The Lucy Show” when she was supposed to be losing 20 pounds and Lucy Carmichael had to make sure she met her goal? My favorite scene is of her screaming, ranting and kicking on the floor in a hysterical tantrum until Lucy got her a “treat.” Then she got up, looked straight at the camera and quipped: “I didn’t get those two Oscars for nothing, you know.”

    That scene still sends me into hysterics and I have to echo my fellow gay conservative above: here’s a scotch-and-water to you, Shelley. You were definitely one-of-a-kind.

    Peter Hughes

    Comment by Peter Hughes — January 17, 2006 @ 9:35 pm - January 17, 2006

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