: The best way to find out about a man is to have lunch with his ex-wife.
Shelley Winters was born Shirley Schrift of very humble beginnings. 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, 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" in 1941.
Within a short time, Shelley pushed ahead for a career out west. Hollywood proved to be a tough road. Toiling in bit roles for years, many of her scenes were excised altogether during her early days.
As a tarnished glamour girl and symbol of working class vulgarity in Hollywood, Shelley was about to be written off in pictures altogether when one of her finest movie roles arrived on her front porch. Her best hard luck girl storyboard showed up in the form of depressed, frumpy-looking Alice Tripp, a factory girl seduced and abandoned by wanderlust Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun.
With advancing age and increasing size, she found a comfortable niche in the harping Jewish wife/mother category with loud, flashy, unsubtle roles in Enter Laughing, and, most notably, The Poseidon Adventure.
She earned another Oscar nomination for "Poseidon" while portraying her third drowning victim. At around the same time, she scored quite well as the indomitable Marx Brothers' mama in "Minnie's Boys" on Broadway in 1970.