Shelley Winters (August 18, 1920 – January 14, 2006) was an American actress who appeared in dozens of films, as well as on stage and television; her career spanned over 50 years until her death in 2006. A two-time Academy Award winner, Winters is probably most remembered for her roles in A Place in the Sun, The Big Knife, Lolita, The Night of the Hunter, Alfie, and The Poseidon Adventure.
Winters was born Shirley Schrift in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Rose (née Winter), a singer with The Muny, and Jonas Schrift, a designer of men's clothing. Her parents were Jewish; her father immigrated from Austria, and her mother had been born in St. Louis to Austrian immigrants. Her parents had been third cousins. Her family moved to Brooklyn, New York when she was three years old. Her sister Blanche Schrift later married George Boroff, who ran The Circle Theatre (now named El Centro Theatre) in Los Angeles. Winters studied at The New School in New York City.
As the New York Times obituary noted, "A major movie presence for more than five decades, Shelley Winters turned herself into a widely-respected actress who won two Oscars." Winters originally broke into Hollywood as "the Blonde Bombshell", but quickly tired of the role's limitations. She washed off her makeup and played against type to set up Elizabeth Taylor's beauty in A Place in the Sun, still a landmark American film. As the Associated Press reported, the general public was unaware of how serious a craftswoman Winters was. "Although she was in demand as a character actress, Winters continued to study her craft. She attended Charles Laughton's Shakespeare classes and worked at the Actors Studio, both as student and teacher." She studied in the Hollywood Studio Club, and in the late 1940s she shared an apartment with another newcomer, Marilyn Monroe.