Teresa Wright (1918 - 2005)

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Teresa Wright Biography & Family History

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Teresa Wright
Born October 27, 1918 in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Died March 6, 2005 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA (heart attack)
Birth Name Muriel Teresa Wright
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)
Mini Bio (1)
A natural and lovely talent who was discovered for films by Samuel Goldwyn, the always likable Teresa Wright distinguished herself early on in high-caliber, Oscar-worthy form -- the only performer ever to be nominated for Oscars for her first three films. Always true to herself, she was able to earn Hollywood stardom on her own unglamorized terms.
Born Muriel Teresa Wright in the Harlem district of New York City on October 27, 1918, her parents divorced when she was quite young and she lived with various relatives in New York and New Jersey. An uncle of hers was a stage actor. She attended the exclusive Rosehaven School in Tenafly, New Jersey. The acting bug revealed itself when she saw the legendary Helen Hayes perform in a production of "Victoria Regina." After performing in school plays and graduating from Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, she made the decision to pursue acting professionally.
Apprenticing at the Wharf Theatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts during the summers of 1937 and 1938 in such plays as "The Vinegar Tree" and "Susan and God", she moved to New York and changed her name to Teresa after she discovered there was already a Muriel Wright in Actors Equity. Her first New York play was Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" wherein she played a small part but also understudied the lead ingénue role of Emily. She eventually replaced Martha Scott in the lead after the actress was escorted to Hollywood to make pictures and recreate the Emily role on film. It was during her year-long run in "Life with Father" that Teresa was seen by Goldwyn talent scouts, was tested, and ultimately won the coveted role of Alexandra in the film The Little Foxes (1941). She also accepted an MGM starlet contract on the condition that she not be forced to endure cheesecake publicity or photos for any type of promotion and could return to the theater at least once a year. Oscar-nominated for her work alongside fellow cast members Bette Davis (as calculating mother Regina) and Patricia Collinge (recreating her scene-stealing Broadway role as the flighty, dipsomaniac Aunt Birdie), Teresa's star rose even higher with her next pictures.
Playing the good-hearted roles of the granddaughter in the war-era tearjerker Mrs. Miniver (1942) and baseball icon Lou Gehrig's altruistic wife in The Pride of the Yankees (1942) opposite Gary Cooper, the pretty newcomer won both "Best Supporting Actress" and "Best Actress" nods respectively in the same year, ultimately taking home the supporting trophy. Teresa's fourth huge picture in a row was Alfred Hitchcock's psychological thriller Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and she even received top-billing over established star Joseph Cotten who played a murdering uncle to her suspecting niece. Wed to screenwriter Niven Busch in 1942, she had a slip with her fifth picture Casanova Brown (1944) but bounced right back as part of the ensemble cast in the "Best Picture" of the year The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) portraying the assuaging daughter of Fredric March and Myrna Loy who falls in love with damaged soldier-turned-civilian Dana Andrews.
With that film, however, her MGM contract ended. Remarkably, she made only one movie for the studio ("Mrs. Miniver") during all that time. The rest were all loanouts. As a freelancing agent, the quality of her films began to dramatically decline. Pictures such as Enchantment (1948), Something to Live For (1952), California Conquest (1952), Count the Hours! (1953), Track of the Cat (1954) and Escapade in Japan (1957) pretty much came and went. For her screenwriter husband she appeared in the above-average western thriller Pursued (1947) and crime drama The Capture (1950). Her most inspired films of that post-war era were The Men (1950) opposite film newcomer Marlon Brando and the low budgeted but intriguing The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956) which chronicled the fascinating story of an American housewife who claimed she lived a previous life.
The "Golden Age" of TV was her salvation during these lean film years in which she appeared in fine form in a number of dramatic showcases. She recreated for TV the perennial holiday classic The 20th Century-Fox Hour: The Miracle on 34th Street (1955) in which she played the Maureen O'Hara role opposite Macdonald Carey and Thomas Mitchell. Divorced from Busch, the father of her two children,
By this time a mature actress now in her 50s, challenging stage work came in the form of "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the Moon Marigolds", "Long Day's Journey Into Night", "Morning's at Seven" and "Ah, Wilderness!" Teresa also graced the stage alongside George C. Scott's Willy Loman (as wife Linda) in an acclaimed presentation of "Death of a Salesman" in 1975, and appeared opposite Scott again in her very last play, "On Borrowed Time" (1991). After almost a decade away from films, she came back to play the touching role of an elderly landlady opposite Matt Damon in her last picture, John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997). Teresa passed away of a heart attack in 2005.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / [contact link]
Spouse (2)
Robert Anderson (11 December 1959 - 29 October 1978) ( divorced)
Niven Busch (23 May 1942 - 25 November 1952) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Trivia (29)

Teresa Wright was also known as Muriel Teresa Wright.

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Was the 19th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress for Mrs. Miniver (1942) at The 15th Academy Awards on March 4, 1943.
She appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: Mrs. Miniver (1942) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). She also appeared in two other Best Picture nominees: The Little Foxes (1941) and Pride of the Yankees (1942).
in 1952, Teresa made a concentrated effort to return to the stage and found consistency in such plays as "Salt of the Earth" (1952), "Bell, Book and Candle" (1953), "The Country Girl" (1953), "The Heiress" (1954), "The Rainmaker" (1955) and "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" (1957) opposite Pat Hingle, in which she made a successful Broadway return. Marrying renowned playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, stage and TV continued to be her primary focuses, notably appearing under the theater lights in her husband's emotive drama "I Never Sang for My Father" in 1968. The couple lived on a farm in upstate New York until their divorce in 1978.

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East Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut

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1918 - In the year that Teresa Wright was born, federal spending was $12.68 billion, unemployment was 1.4% and the cost of a first-class stamp was 3 cents.

1928 - Teresa was merely 10 years old when aviatrix Amelia Earhart, age 31, became the first woman to fly solo across North America and back in August. In June, she had been part of a 3 man crew that flew the Atlantic Ocean but since she had no instrument training, she couldn't fly the plane - she kept the flight log. The North American flight became one of her many "firsts" as a female pilot.

1946 - She was 28 years old when pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock's book "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care" was published. It sold half a million copies in the first six months. Aside from the Bible, it became the best selling book of the 20th century. A generation of Baby Boomers were raised by the advice of Dr. Spock.

1948 - At the age of 30 years old, Teresa was alive when on May 14th, the State of Israel was proclaimed by David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first Premier, and the U.S. officially recognized Israel. That evening, Egypt launched an air assault on Israel.

1983 - Teresa was 65 years old when on August 30th, the Soviet Union claimed that a South Korean Boeing 747 jetliner (Flight 007), bound for Seoul from New York City, had strayed into Soviet airspace. Saying that they believed it to be a U.S. spy plane, the passenger jet was shot down by a Soviet SU-15 fighter - after it had tracked the airliner for two hours. All 269 passengers (including a U.S. Representative from Georgia) and crew were killed.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Teresa Wright, the willowy actress who starred opposite Gary Cooper and Marlon Brando and won a supporting Academy Award in 1942 for "Mrs. Miniver," has died. She was 86.
Wright died Sunday of a heart attack at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, her daughter, Mary-Kelly Busch, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Wright's career skyrocketed after her first film, "The Little Foxes," which brought her an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress of 1941. The following year she was honored with two nominations: lead actress as the wife of Lou Gehrig in "The Pride of the Yankees" and supporting actress as Greer Garson's daughter in the wartime saga "Mrs. Miniver."
She also starred in three other classics: Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" in 1943; Brando's first film, "The Men," in 1950; and the multiple Oscar winner "The Best Years of Our Lives" in 1946.
Later generations saw her in an occasional character role, including the eccentric, warmhearted Miss Birdie in the 1997 film version of John Grisham's "The Rainmaker," starring Matt Damon, and in 1988's "The Good Mother," with Diane Keaton and Liam Neeson.
Wright's lovely face, quiet manner and dramatic skill made her a popular leading actress in the 1940s and early '50s. She appeared op posite Cooper in "The Pride of the Yankees" and "Casanova Brown," Robert Mitchum in "Pursued," David Niven in "Enchantment," Lew Ayres in "The Capture" and Cornel Wilde in "California Conquest."
From the beginning of her Hollywood career, Wright displayed an independence that rankled her boss, the imperious Hollywood producer, Sam Goldwyn. Goldwyn fired her in 1948, claiming she was "uncooperative" for refusing to go to New York to publicize one of her films.
The actress expressed no regret about losing her $5,000-a-week contract. She claimed illness and added: "The type of contract between players and producers is, I feel, antiquated in form and abstract in concept. ... We have no privacies which producers cannot invade, they trade us like cattle, boss us like children."
Wright stood out as an anomaly in a Hollywood era when glamour was demanded of actresses. She appeared on-screen as the dutiful daughter and supportive wife, never the seductress.
"I'm just not the glamour type," she admitted in a 1950 interview. "Glamour girls are born, not made. And the real ones can be glamorous even if they don't wear magnificent clothes. I'll bet Lana Turner would look glamorous in anything."
When a studio asked her to pose for "cheesecake" - the term for photos in bathing suits or other scanty attire - she declined.
"I argued that I didn't have any of the attributes to pose for cheesecake," she said. "I said I would have to make good on my acting ability, which was the only attribute I could offer."
Wright was born in New York City on Oct. 27, 1918, and grew up in Maplewood, N.J., where she showed promise in theatricals at Columbia High School. Her instructor persuaded Teresa's father to allow her to study for the summer at the famed Wharf theater in Provincetown, Mass.
Wright began her career in summer theater, then got a job as understudy to Dorothy McGuire, who had taken over th e lead role in the hit play "Our Town." After touring in "Our Town," Wright won a role in another stage hit, "Life with Father." Goldwyn saw the play and brought her to Hollywood to play the role of Alexandra Giddens in "The Little Foxes."
While under contract to Goldwyn, she met the producer's story editor Niven Busch, who wrote "Duel in the Sun" and other novels. They were married in 1942 and had two children, Niven Terence and Mary Kelly. Two of Busch's sons by a previous marriage lived with them on a 300-acre ranch in Hollister.
In 1952, she ended her marriage to Busch, accusing him of making her feel useless "by refusing to allow me the right to have anything to say in the care and raising of my children and the running of our house."
In 1959, Wright married Robert Anderson, author of "Tea and Sympathy" and other plays. She stopped acting for several years, but returned to the New York theater for "Mary, Mary" in 1962.
She drew glowing reviews in the Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman" in 1975, and was warmly received in occasional screen appearances later in life. Besides "The Good Mother" and "The Rainmaker," Wright had character roles in "Hail Hero!" "The Happy Ending," "Roseland" and "Somewhere in Time."
She and Anderson divorced and later remarried.

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