Teresa Wright insisted on doing Hollywood her way and became the only actor ever nominated for Academy Awards in each of her three initial pictures, winning for "Mrs. Miniver."
A Broadway actress, Wright came to Hollywood at the invitation of Samuel Goldwyn, who had seen her on stage in "Life With Father," to play Bette Davis' daughter in 1941's "The Little Foxes." Wright earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress in the role.
She followed that triumph the next year with two more nominations, for best actress as the wife of Gary Cooper's Lou Gehrig in "The Pride of the Yankees," and for best supporting actress as the girlfriend of Greer Garson's son in "Mrs. Miniver," for which she won the Oscar.
Her fourth film garnered no Oscar nomination, but was a classic nonetheless. She played the innocent niece to Joseph Cotten's serial killer in Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt." After that came leading roles in "Casanova Brown" and "The Best Years of Our Lives."
Wright wanted no part of the typical studio publicity for actresses of that era. She insisted she was no glamour girl and staunchly refused to pose for photos wearing bathing suits or to endure gossipy fan magazine interviews.
Her insistence on a contract clause precluding cheesecake photos garnered more publicity than the photos ever could, and irked her studio.
"My idea then was that I wouldn't look good, that my acting was better than my figure, and that others could do it better," she told Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper in 1950.
Initially understanding about her attitude, Goldwyn told her he was not of "the bathing suit school of Hollywood producers." He cast her as the wholesome daughter, wife or sweetheart and never the seductress. But he suspended her at various times, and fired her in 1948 for being "uncooperative" when she refused to travel to publicize a movie.
The ouster might have cost Wright her $125,000 pay, but not her ability to land prestigious roles. Although she made her next film for only $20,000, it was another classic: 1950's "The Men," opposite Marlon Brando in his movie debut.
By 1953, although she was only in her early 30s, Wright moved into character roles, playing Jean Simmons' mother in George Cukor's "The Actress."
Over her long career, Wright appeared in about 28 movies, most recently as the eccentric landlady Miss Birdie who befriends Matt Damon in Francis Ford Coppola's 1997 "The Rainmaker." But she never revised her less than enthusiastic opinion of the medium.
Wright did intersperse her illustrious stage career with considerable work on television from its inception, beginning with such live dramatic anthology series as Lux Video Theater.
She was nominated for Emmys three times: for playing the teacher Annie Sullivan in the 1957 CBS production of "The Miracle Worker," as the famed photographer in "The Margaret Bourke-White Story" on NBC in 1960, and for a guest role on the brief CBS series "Dolphin Cove" in 1989.
|1941||Best Supporting Actress||The Little Foxes||Nomination|
|1942||Best Supporting Actress||Mrs. Miniver||Win|
|1942||Best Actress||The Pride of the Yankees||Nomination|