Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Seven Things to Know About Thelma Ritter

1. Thelma was nominated six times in the Best Supporting Actress category--and somehow never won an Oscar. The nominations were for her performances in: All About Eve (1951); The Mating Season (1952); With a Song in My Heart (1953); Pickup on South Street (1954); Pillow Talk (1960); and Birdman of Alcatraz (1963).

2. She won a Tony Award for Best Actress (Musical) for New Girl in Town in 1958. She actually tied for the award with her co-star Gwen Verdon--the first time that ever happened. The play, a musical adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie, is about a former prostitute (Verdon) hiding her past from her father. Dad's resentful lover Marthy (Ritter) quickly realizes the truth--which is bad news for Anna. Marie Dressler played the Marthy role opposite Greta Garbo in the 1931 film version of Anna Christie.

In Pillow Talk (1959).
3. Thelma Ritter had a gap of 27 years between her Broadway appearances in In Times Square (1931) and New Girl in Town (1958).

4. She attended the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in New York City in the early 1920s. Although economic realities prevented her from graduating, she received the first AADA Alumni Award according to Axel Nixon's book Actresses of a Certain Character. By the way, her fellow AADA students included a young Spencer Tracy and Sterling Holloway.

5. Thelma's husband, Joseph Moran, was an actor, too. However, he turned to advertising in the 1930s and eventually became vice president of the ad firm Young & Rubicam. He appeared briefly with Thelma in The Proud and the Profane (1956), billed as "Marine Saying Goodbye." They were married for 38 years until her death in 1969. Her daughter Monica Moran became an actress and had a brief film career. Her son, Joseph A. Moran, was a Marine and testified in a court-martial in 1956 related to the Ribbon Creek Incident in which six Marines died in a South Carolina swamp.

With James Stewart in Rear Window.
6. On working with Alfred Hitchcock in Rear Window, Thelma once said: "You knew whether you were OK or not. If he liked what you did, he said nothing. If he didn't, he looked as though he was going to throw up."

7. Thelma Ritter was born on Valentine's Day in 1902. She was 45 when she made her film debut in an uncredited role in Miracle on 34th Street (1947). She died of a heart attack in 1969 at the age of 66.


  1. I am enlightened with Thelma Ritter information and shall now go forth and amaze my friends and confound my enemies.

  2. I loved seeing your post on Thelma Ritter! She had what looked like an effortless delivery and I always looked forward to seeing her work.

  3. They don't make them like her anymore. Thanks for remembering Thelma Ritter.

  4. A wonderful tribute to Thelma Ritter – one of my faves. I adore her in EVERYTHING.

  5. Wow,did not know "Miracle on 34th Street" was her first film. Her lines are very memorable :)

  6. Always got a kick watching Thelma Ritter, she always held her own no matter who else was in the scene.