Saturday, 8 October 2011

Spotlight on a Character Actress: Thelma Ritter

Thelma Ritter is the best character actress ever in my opinion. I first saw her as Birdie in All About Eve and thought she was great. She will always be my favourite :-)

Thelma Ritter (1902-1969)

Thelma Ritter was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1902. As well as appearing in high school productions she appeared in stock company productions and she soon decided that acting was going to be her profession. After training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Thelma started a fairly successful stage career, but then quit the profession to take care of her children and raise them. But in 1947 Joseph L. Mankiewicz gave Thelma her first film role as a bit part in Miracle On 34th Street and after that she never had any trouble getting work in Hollywood. She usually played fast talking, gutsy maids to famous actors and actresses (Bette Davis's maid in All About Eve, James Stewart's nurse in Rear Window, Doris Day's maid in Pillow Talk) and she was amazing at it.

In the movie survey I created last year, one of the questions was, "Would you rather be Margo Channing of All About Eve or Ilsa Lund of Casablanca?" When I answered it myself, I just had to go for Margo. I love her character and Bette Davis, sure. But the real thing that swayed me was that I would have Thelma Ritter as my confidante and maid. Score! My mum has always called Thelma Ritter one of her favourite ever actresses - she sometimes even adds her as an honorary 6th in her top 5 actresses list. She is just possibly one of (or perhaps the) coolest actress ever to grace our screens (I use the term "grace" loosely. She's usually slamming doors or stumbling hungover out of elevators). If I had to choose, she would be my favourite character actress.

And here she is in the strangest hat that I have ever seen in my entire life.

Best Films To Start With:
  1. All About Eve
  2. Pillow Talk
  3. Rear Window
And so ends my Character Actress series! I hope you've enjoyed the posts :-) By the way, the Bette Davis bogging contest is going very well, but I need your votes! If you liked my post, head on over here to vote!



Rianna said...

I love Thelma - then again, who doesn't? ;) This was a great series. Good luck with the contest (you wouldn't believe it, but all of us "competitors" are teenagers) and I LOVE the new blog design! I mean, I loved the last one. But this one is awesome, too. :)

Bette said...

YAY! TEENAGE CLASSIC MOVIE LOVERS!!! Thanks, glad you like the blog design, you did a great post for the contest :-)


Martin Turnbull said...

I agree wholeheartedly! Who doesn't love Thelma Ritter. But good god, where did you find that picture of Thelma in that riDICulous hat?!?!? Where on earth, one can't help but wonder, did it come from!!!??!

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