Quintessential girl-next-door Teresa Wright was born Muriel Teresa Wright 98 years ago today in New York City. Here are 10 TW Did-You-Knows:
- Wright was born in Harlem, but her parents divorced when she was very young, after which she lived primarily in Maplewood, New Jersey.
- Wright was inspired to take up acting as a teenager when she saw Helen Hayes perform in a production of Victoria Regina.
- Having launched her professional career at the Wharf Theatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, she started going by her middle name professionally when she learned there was already another Muriel Wright in Actors Equity.
- Her Broadway debut came in Thornton Wilder‘s Our Town; she was initially cast in a small role and as the understudy for the lead role of Emily Webb, but when the original lead, Martha Scott, answered the siren song of Hollywood, Wright took over the lead role.
- Wright’s Hollywood debut saw her starring with Bette Davis in The Little Foxes (1941). Wright remains the only actor to have been nominated for an Academy Award for her first three motion pictures: The Little Foxes (supporting actress), 1942’s The Pride of the Yankees (best actress) and Mrs. Miniver (for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role).
- Wright is one of 10 actors to have been nominated for Academy Awards in both the Best Supporting and Best Lead acting categories in the same year. The others are are Fay Bainter, Barry Fitzgerald, Jessica Lange, Sigourney Weaver, Al Pacino, Emma Thompson, Holly Hunter, Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore and Jamie Foxx.
- Her first husband, Niven Busch, wrote the female lead in Duel in the Sun (1946) with Wright in mind, so that she might break out of her girl-next-door rut, but she discovered she was pregnant and the role went to Jennifer Jones.
- Wright was among the earliest movie actors to work on television. Her first appearance came on Robert Montgomery Presents in 1952, and she went on to appear as a guest or a star in more than fifty more series and TV movies.
- In the 1950s and ’60s, Wright also worked frequently on the stage—on Broadway, in regional theatres and in touring companies.
- Wright died of a heart attack on March 6, 2005. On July 5 of that year, during Old-Timer’s Day festivities at Yankee Stadium, her name was included in a list of former Yankees and other members of the Yankees family who had passed away in the previous twelve months because of her memorable performance as Lou Gehrig‘s wife, Eleanor, in Pride of the Yankees.
Happy birthday, Teresa Wright, wherever you may be!