Thelma Ritter - Rotten Tomatoes

Thelma Ritter



At the tender age of eight, Thelma Ritter was regaling the students and faculty of Brooklyn's Public School 77 with her recitals of such monologues as "Mr. Brown Gets His Haircut" and "The Story of Cremona". After appearing in high school plays and stock companies, Ritter was trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Throughout the Depression years, she and her actor husband Joe Moran did everything short of robbing banks to support themselves; when vaudeville and stage assignments dried up, they entered slogan and jingle contests. Moran forsook performing to become an actor's agent in the mid-1930s, while Ritter also briefly gave up acting to raise a family. She started working professionally again in 1940 as a radio performer. In 1946, director George Seaton, an old friend of Ritter, offered her a bit role in the upcoming New York-lensed Miracle on 34th Street. Ritter's single scene as a weary Yuletide shopper went over so well that 20th Century-Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck insisted that the actress' role be expanded. After Ritter garnered good notices for her unbilled Miracle role, Joseph L. Mankiewicz wrote a part specifically for her in his 1948 film A Letter to Three Wives (1949). She was afforded screen billing for the first time in 1949's City Across the River. During the first few years of her 20th Century-Fox contract, Ritter was Oscar-nominated for her performance as Bette Davis' acerbic maid in All About Eve, and for her portrayal of upwardly mobile John Lund's just-folks mother in The Mating Season (1951). In all, the actress would receive five nominations -- the other three were for With a Song in My Heart (1952), Pickup on South Street (1953) and Pillow Talk (1959) -- though she never won the gold statuette. Ritter finally received star billing in the comedy/drama The Model and the Marriage Broker (1952), in which she assuages her own loneliness by finding suitable mates for others. After a showcase part as James Stewart's nurse in Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), Ritter made do with standard film supporting parts and starring roles on TV. In 1957, Ritter appeared as waterfront barfly Marthy in the Broadway musical New Girl in Town, a bowdlerization of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie. Ritter interrupted her still-thriving screen career in 1965 for another Broadway appearance in James Kirkwood's UTBU. Shortly after a 1968 guest appearance on TV's The Jerry Lewis Show, Ritter suffered a heart attack which would ultimately prove fatal; the actress' last screen appearance, like her first, was a cameo role in a George Seaton-directed comedy, What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968). Ritter's daughter, Monica Moran, also pursued an acting career from the 1940s through the 1970s.

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet What's So Bad About Feeling Good?
  • Mrs. Schwartz
1968
83% The Incident
  • Bertha Beckerman
1967
No Score Yet Boeing (707) Boeing (707)
  • Bertha
1965
No Score Yet Move Over Darling
  • Grace Arden
1963
0% A New Kind of Love
  • Leena
1963
100% How the West Was Won
  • Agatha Clegg
1963
82% Birdman of Alcatraz
  • Elizabeth Stroud
1962
No Score Yet The Second Time Around
  • Aggie
1961
100% The Misfits
  • Isabelle
1961
92% Pillow Talk
  • Alma
1959
67% A Hole in the Head
  • Sophie Manetta
1959
No Score Yet Daddy Long Legs
  • Alicia Pritchard
1955
100% Rear Window
  • Stella
1954
No Score Yet The Farmer Takes a Wife
  • Lucy Cashdollar
1953
90% Pickup on South Street
  • Moe
1953
89% Titanic
  • Mrs. Maude Young
1953
No Score Yet With a Song in My Heart
  • Clancy
1952
No Score Yet As Young as You Feel
  • Della Hodges
1951
No Score Yet The Model and the Marriage Broker
  • Mae Swazey
1951
No Score Yet Perfect Strangers
  • Lena Fassler
1950
100% All About Eve
  • Birdie Coonan
1950
No Score Yet City Across the River
  • Mrs. Katie Cusack
1949
94% A Letter to Three Wives
  • Sadie
1949
No Score Yet Father Was a Fullback
  • Geraldine
1949
96% Miracle on 34th Street
  • Peter's Mother
1947

Quotes from Thelma Ritter's Characters