Shirley Booth Overview:

Legendary actress, Shirley Booth, was born Thelma Marjorie Ford on Aug 30, 1898 in New York City, NY. Booth died at the age of 94 on Oct 16, 1992 in North Chatham, MA and was laid to rest in Mount Hebron Cemetery in Upper Montclair, Essex County, NJ.

Shirley Booth

Early Life and Career

Shirley Booth was born Marjory Ford on August 30th, 1898 in Brooklyn, New York to working class parents Albert and Virginia Ford. Although she was named Marjory at birth, by the 1905 census she was officially stated to be named Thelma Booth Ford. She was raised in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush, where she became a precarious child. Even as a youngster Booth was interested in acting, a vocation of which her father adamantly disapproved. Despite her father's feelings towards acting, she pursued her interest and at the age of 12 Booth made her stage debut with some minor roles in a Connecticut summer stock company.  Less than a year later, at just 13, the young Booth left home and joined a summer stock company - thus beginning her long career.

Booth remained in the summer stock circuit for first decade or so of her career, gaining popularity up and down the east coast. She eventually gained great popularity at the Pittsburg Theater, where she performed with the Sharp Company. She continued to work tirelessly - slowly perfecting her craft. Her hard work and dedication finally paid off when in 1925 Booth made her Broadway debut opposite Humphrey Bogart in the Barry Conners penned comedy Hell's Bells. She continued to act in Broadway comedies, gaining a solid reputation for her work in plays such as Laff That Off, Buy, Buy, Baby, High Gear, The War song and School of Virtue.

Broadway Success

She continued to gain attention into the 1930s and by 1935 Booth starred in her first Broadway comedy Three Men on a Horse. The George Abbott penned and staged production was a tremendous hit, with both critics and audiences praising Booth for her performance. The play would run for over 830 performances over the course of two years. She followed Three Men on a Horse with another comedy Excursion and then tried her hand at drama with Too Many Heros. In 1939 she appeared with Katharine Hepburn as Elizabeth Imbrie in the original run of the now classic comedy The Philadelphia Story. For the rest of the decade, Booth continued to demonstrate her acting prowess on the Broadway stage. She acted in comedies such as My Sister Eileen and Hollywood Pinafore  Goodbye, and in 1948 won her first Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress for her dramatic performance in as Grace Woods in Goodbye, My Fancy.

She continued to display her range as an actress by starring in a series of strong dramas like Tomorrow the World, Land's End, and in 1950 won her second Tony Award, this time for Best Actress in Come Back Little Sheba. In 1951, at the age of 52, Booth proved you can always teach old cat new tricks when she starred in the musical A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Stage, Screen, and Television

Now in her 50's, Booth worked as tirelessly as ever. In 1953 Booth made her feature film debut in the big screen adaption of her Broadway hit Come Back Little Sheba. For her efforts she was award the Oscar for Best leading Actress, becoming the first actress to win an Academy Award and Tony for the same role. Later that year she won her third and final Tony Award for her performance in The Time of the Cuckoo. In 1954 she starred in her second film About Mrs. Leslie and would spend the rest of the decade traveling between New York and Los Angeles. She remained on Broadway, starring in hit comedies such as The Desk Set, Miss Isobel and Juno. In 1957 the veteran actress made her television debut on the series Playhouse 90 before returning to the big screen for the films Hot Spell and The Matchmaker.

Later Career and Life

Booth spent much of the 1960s on the small screen. In 1961 she began starring in her own sitcom Hazel. In the series she starred as the sassy, domineering but good-natured housemaid, Hazel Burke. The series was massive success, running from 1961-1966. For her efforts, she received two Emmy Awards, making one of the few actors to win an Oscar, Tony, and Emmy Awards. In 1966 she received another Emmy nomination, this time for her work as Amanda in the TV adaptation of Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie.

In 1970 she returned to Broadway for the musical Look to the Lilies. That year she also made her final Broadway appearance in the revival of the comedy Hay Fever. She returned to Hollywood to star in the short-lived television series A Touch of Grace. Her final on screen appearance was in the 1974 animated special A Year Without a Santa Clause playing Mrs. Claus. She then entered quiet retirement. She then moved to New England, where she lived a quaint life with her pet poodle. Shirley Booth died on October 16th, 1992. She was 94 years old. 

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).



Shirley Booth was nominated for one Academy Award, winning for Best Actress for Come Back, Little Sheba (as Lola Delaney) in 1952.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1952Best ActressCome Back, Little Sheba (1952)Lola DelaneyWon

She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. In addition, Booth was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame .

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Shirley Booth Quotes:

Dolly "Gallagher" Levi: Life is never quite interesting enough. You people who come to the movies know that. So I manage things a little. Nature isn't satisfactory, quite, and so it has to be corrected. So I put my hand in here and my hand in there.

Dolly "Gallagher" Levi: The very young are almost as smart as the very old, Cornelius. It's in the middle that you get in all the trouble.

Dolly "Gallagher" Levi: [after the two clerks emerge from under a table] Good heavens, who else is under there?

read more quotes from Shirley Booth...

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Best Actress Oscar 1952

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Shirley Booth on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame

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Shirley Booth Facts
Became the fourth performer to receive the Triple Crown of Acting, winning an Academy Award in 1953, three Tony Awards (1949, 1950 and 1953) and two Emmy Awards (1962, 1963).

Her father, Albert J. Ford, was a "martinet," a salesman for I.B.M. Corporation, and was a stern taskmaster. She was closer to her mother, Virginia Wright Ford. Her parents separated when Shirley was in her teens, and her mother died in 1933. Her father remarried and lived his life out in Brooklyn. When Shirley decided to act for a living, her father forbade her to use the family name, thereby losing the "Ford" and the "Thelma" in her name and becoming "Shirley Booth." After her parents' divorce, Shirley never saw or spoke to her father again out of the cruelties he inflicted on both her and her mother.

Known for a while as Thelma Booth Ford.

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Theater Hall of Fame

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