Shelley Winters

1920 - 2006

Shelley Winters was born Shirley Schrift of very humble beginnings on August 18, 1920 (some sources list 1922) in East St. Louis, Illinois. Her mother, Rose (Winter), was born in Missouri, to Austrian Jewish parents, and her father, Jonas Schrift, was an Austrian Jewish immigrant. Her father moved the family to Brooklyn when she was still young so that he, a tailor's cutter, could find steadier work closer to the city's garment industry. An unfailing interest in acting occurred quite early for Shelley and she appeared in high school plays. By her mid-to-late teens she had already been employed as a Woolworth's store clerk, model, borscht belt vaudevillian and nightclub chorine, all in order to pay for her acting classes. During a nationwide search in 1939 for GWTW's Scarlett O'Hara, Shelley was advised by auditioning director George Cukor to get acting lessons, which she did. Apprenticing in summer stock, she made her Broadway debut in the short-lived comedy "The Night Before Christmas

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