So, how much did you know about the raucous, rambunctious and amorous Shirley Schrift, better known as Shelley Winters?
Before we got to our Quiz answers, consider this: There’s a crisp but revealing dialogue exchange in director Jack Smight’s Harper, the 1966 neo-noirish thriller costarring Paul Newman, Robert Wagner and Winters, among other solid actors.
Newman as a down-at-the-heels gumshoe named Harper picks up a framed photograph of the woman portrayed by Winters, and shows it to Wagner’s suspicious playboy character.
Newman: She used to be a pretty hot young starlet. What happened to her?
Wagner, laughing uproariously, blurts out: She got fat!
The next shot, of course, opens with Winters’ character — best described as blowsy — scarfing down a large meal at a local eatery. Bold acting choice for an actress who actually was sexual catnip in her younger days, but put on the pounds as years passed.
This Quiz indiscreetly concerns Winter’s love life along the way. She had her fun, romancing some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. As usual, to review the questions just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: Not among Winters’ lovers were a) Ernest Borgnine, her costar in 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, and b) James Mason, her costar in 1962’s Lolita directed by Stanley Kubrick.
2) Answer: c) William Holden; and d) Marlon Brando. About Holden, she wrote: I must say our brief love affairs which lasted from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. Christmas Eves had more fun and happiness than many other relationships in my life… And about Brando, described as a “sometime lover”: When (he) was onstage, all you could do was feel, the sexual arousal was so complete…The only other time I experienced it was when I saw Elvis Presley perform live in Las Vegas; men tell me that Marilyn had it for them.
3) Answer: a) Nelson Eddy. Shelley was in her early Twenties when she made 1944’s Knickerbocker Holiday, starring Eddy. One night after shooting stopped, Eddy “stumbled into my dressing room , quite drunk, still in costume, wrote Shelley. Suddenly he came out of the bathroom wearing long red underwear…”Hey, move over,” he barked at the napping Winters.I was stunned. Up to that point in the filming he had been the very proper New England gentleman…Besides my mother loved his pictures with Jeanette MacDonald and used to drag me to them. I jumped out of bed. Mr. Eddy, I yelled, think of your image! What would Jeanette MacDonald say?“Who cares? She slides off her C’s.” And then there is (b) Burt Lancaster. About him, she wrote: He was charming and, oh, God, so handsome! And he was , I think, one of the most gracefully athletic men I’ve ever seen. Just watching him walk was almost a physical pleasure.
4) Answer: b) Winters was aware of Ladd’s sensitivities about his short stature (he stood 5-feet-6 1/4 inches), but was not personally involved with the actor. In the early Fifties while starring in Saskatchewan he was introduced by costar Winters to her second husband, Italian actor Vittorio Gassman, who stood 6 feet, 1-1/2 inches. I introduced him to Alan, Winters wrote years later in her autobiography, then told him to sit down quickly in the director’s chair. (Gassman) didn’t know why, but he did it. After the shooting, I explained to him that he was too tall and I felt that Alan Ladd, whom I liked very much and wanted to get along with, had a terrible complex about his height.
5) Answer: d) Winter was married four times to the following: Mack Paul Mayer (1942-48), Gassman (1952-54); actor Anthony Franciosa (1957-1960) and Gerry DeFord (shortly before her death in 2006).