Teresa Wright Overview:

Legendary actress, Teresa Wright, was born Muriel Teresa Wright on Oct 27, 1918 in Manhattan, New York City. Wright died at the age of 86 on Mar 6, 2005 in New Haven, CT .

Early Life

Muriel Teresa Wright was born on October 27, 1918 in Harlem, New York. Her parents divorced when she was very young and Wright spent the next few years traveling between New York and New Jersey, living with various relatives before settling down in Maplewood, New Jersey. It was in after seeing Helen Hayes in the 1936 production of Victoria Regina that Wright sparked Wrights interest in acting. Soon after she began auditioning for her high school's staged productions, usually gaining the lead females role. She then gained a scholarship to the Wharf Theatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She would spend the last two summers of her high school career as an apprentice there, appearing in plays such as The Vinegar Tree and Susan and God.

Early Career

After graduating, Wright moved back to New York. She immediately found work as an understudy for Martha Scott in Thornton Wilder's Our Town. She would make her Broadway debut as Emily in said play, after Scott went West to appear in the film's adaption. Wright would also recreate the role of Emily in the nationwide tour. In 1939 Wright starred as Mary in the play Life with Father.  A year into the plays record-breaking seven-year run, she managed to catch the eye of producer Samuel Goldwyn. He considered her to be a natural talent with an honest aire of genuineness so utterly lacking Hollywood. What she lacked in glamour, Wright more than made up for in her sweet disposition and quiet professionalism. Soon after, Wright was given a screen-test and asked to sign a five year contract with Goldwyn Studios.

The Contract

Although Wright was excited to try her hand at film acting, she did not wish to get caught in the trappings of the Hollywood Glamour. Her contract reflected this, as it had many clauses that were considered unique at the time. Her contract read:

"The aforementioned Teresa Wright shall not be required to pose for photographs in a bathing suit unless she is in the water. Neither may she be photographed on the beach with hair flying in the wind. Nor may she pose in any of the following situations: in shorts; playing with a cocker spaniel; digging in a garden; whipping up a meal; attired in firecrackers and holding sky rockets for the Fourth of July; looking insinuatingly at a turkey for Thanksgiving; wearing a bunny cap with long ears for Easter; twinkling on prop snow in a skiing outfit while a fan blows her scarf; or assuming an athletic stance while pretending to hit something with a bow and arrow."


After signing her contract, Wright was given a one-way ticket to Hollywood. She immediately began work on the big screen adaption of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes. The film follows the lies and treachery of an old, aristocratic family in the south with the family matriarch, Bette Davis, attempting to weld all its power. In the film, Wright played Alexandra Giddens, a sweet young ingenue held in grip of her powerful mother (Davis), while trying to care for her ailing father. The production was marred with many problems, most stemming from the constant disagreement between Davis and the films director, William Wyler. Wright, however, remained the paradigm of professionalism; staying out of any on-set politics and simply showing up everyday, on time, and prepared to work. Despite the set troubles, the film was a huge hit both commercially and critically. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Wright was also nominated for Best Supporting actress, making hers one of the most successful screen debuts in film history. 

In 1942 starred opposite Gary Cooper in the Lou Gehrig inspirational bio-pic, The Pride of the Yankees. In the film, Wright played Gehrig's wife and confidant, Eleanor. For her work, she was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. That year Wright also appeared in Williams Wyler's civic-minded wartime film Mrs. Miniver. The film follows the unassuming Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson) as her simple and traditionally rural lifestyle is rocked by the events of World War Two. In the film, Wright played Carol Beldon, the sweet natured, aristocratic daughter-in-law to Mrs. Miniver. The film was the biggest success of the year with both critics and audiences singing its praises.  The film was MGM biggest profit of the year, far exceeding initial box-office expectorations. It also was go on to win six of its eleven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for Teresa Wright.

Accomplishment and Continued Success

Wright remains the only actress in Hollywood history to receive Academy Award nominations for her first three films. She is also one of nine actors in the Awards History to be nominated for both Best Actress and Best supporting actress in the same year. Simply stated, no one has made more of an impact in their debut films as Teresa Wright. She would continue that success with Alfred Hitchcock's 1943 film Shadow of a Doubt. In the film She played the intelligent but naive Charlie, who gradually discovers her beloved Uncle Charlie is a cerebral and ruthless murderer. By this point, Wright was considerably box-office draw and was first billed over fellow veteran actor, Joesph Cotton. Hitchcock considered Wright one of the most intelligent actress he worked with. He worked to make her character exude Wrights own personality traits: warmth, youth, and a certain idealism; traits often missing from your typical Hitchcock heroine. Although the film was only a moderate hit when released, it has since developed a strong following and is considered Hitchcock earliest masterpiece. It is also reported to be Hitchcock's personal favorite. In 1944 she re-teamed with Gary Cooper for the fairly forgettable Sam Wood romance Casanova Brown.

In 1946 Wright teamed with Director William Wyler once a gain, this time for the Post-WWII drama The Best Years of Our Lives. The film follows three U.S Veterans as they attempt to readjust to civilian life after returning from World War Two. In the film, Wright plays the daughter of returning service man, Fredric March. The film is considered on of the most important post-WWII films to come out of Hollywood and was nominated for a total of eight Academy awards, taking home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing and Best score. In 1947 Wright starred opposite Robert Mitchum in the film-noir/western hybrid The Pursued. That year she also starred in The Imperfect Lady and The Trouble with Women.

Studio Fall-out

In 1948 Wright starred opposite David Nivens in the period-piece romance Enchantment. The film was a hit with Wright receiving wondrous reviews. Despite this, Goldwyn and Wright would have a public falling out due to the project, with Goldwyn claiming Wright refused to do the proper publicity for the film. Wright objected to the claim, stating she did the proper publicity that could do before falling ill. She stated she gladly accepted the termination of her $5,000 a week contract, further stating her objection to the studio system in general citing: "The types of contracts standardized in the motion picture industry between players and producers are archaic in form and absurd in concept. I am determined never to set my name to another one ... in the future I shall gladly work for less if by doing so I can retain my hold upon the common decencies without which the most glorified job becomes intolerable." She remained true to her word when in 1950 she received $20,000 to star in the film The Men, when just a year ago she command a price tag of $125,000. Although not a huge success, the film is noted for Wrights performance and as the film debut of Marlon Brando.

Decline and Return to the Stage

As the 1950's worn-on, Wright found herself starring in a string of financial failures. Although she was well-received for films such as 1952's Something to Live for, 1953's The Actress and 1954's Track of the Cat, none of them were successful very successful. By the end of the decade, Wright began to focus more of her energy toward TV and in 1957 received an Emmy nomination for her work in the televised version of The Miracle Worker. By 1960, she had retired from the silver screen in favor of returning to the stage. In 1960 Wright returned to New York to star in the Jean Kerr play Mary, Mary. The play would go to be one of the longest running plays of the decade.

Later Life

Although largely absent from the silver screen, Wright remained busy through out the 1960's and 70'ss. She would appear in many Television productions, including The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and the hit series Bonanza. In late 60's, write starred in the successful stage productions I Never Sang for My Father, and Who's Happy Now ?In 1975 Wright appeared in the wildly successful Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman. She remained active in 1980's and 90's, as well, making guest appearances in popular television shows such as Murder, She Wrote and Picket Fences. In her Twilight years, Wright made a return to the big screen and in 1997 made her final appearance in Francis Ford Coppla's The Rainmaker. Her final years were lives out peacefully in her New England home.  Teresa Wright passed away on March 6, 2005 of a heart attack in New Haven, Connecticut. 

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



Teresa Wright was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning one for Best Supporting Actress for Mrs. Miniver (as Carol Beldon) in 1942.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1941Best Supporting ActressThe Little Foxes (1941)Alexandra GiddensNominated
1942Best ActressThe Pride of the Yankees (1942)Eleanor GehrigNominated
1942Best Supporting ActressMrs. Miniver (1942)Carol BeldonWon

She was honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the categories of Motion Pictures and Television.

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Teresa Wright Quotes:

Regina Giddens: Alexandra, I've come to the end of my rope, somewhere there's got to be what I want too. Life goes too fast. You can go where you want, do what you want, think what you want. I'd like to keep you with me but I won't make you stay. No, I won't make you stay.
Alexandra Giddens: [Thoughtful] You couldn't Mama. Because I don't want to stay with you. Because I'm beginning to understand about things. Addie said there were people who ate the earth and those that stood around and watched them do it. And just then Uncle Ben said the same thing. Really the same thing. Tell him from me Mama, I'm not going to watch you do it.

Peggy Stephenson: I've made up my mind.
Al Stephenson: Good girl.
Milly Stephenson: To do what?
Peggy Stephenson: I'm going to break that marriage up! I can't stand it seeing Fred tied to a woman he doesn't love and who doesn't love him. Oh, it's horrible for him. It's humiliating and it's killing his spirit. Somebody's got to help him.

Carol Beldon: I know how comfortable it is to curl up with a nice, fat book full of big words and think you're going to solve all the problems in the universe. But you're not, you know. A bit of action is required every now and then.

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Best Supporting Actress Oscar 1942

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Teresa Wright on the
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Teresa Wright Facts
She is interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut.

For many years Wright maintained a residence in the bucolic Litchfield County town of Bridgewater, Connecticut.

Her husband, Niven Busch, originally penned Duel in the Sun (1946) for her to play the lead, as a departure from her girl-next-door roles. But pregnancy forced her to drop out, and Jennifer Jones got the lead.

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