Birthday: October 27, 1918
Died At Age: 86
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Muriel Teresa Wright
Born in: Harlem, New York City
Famous as: Actress
Spouse/Ex-: Niven Busch (m. 1942–52), Robert Anderson (m. 1959–78)
father: Arthur Hendricksen Wright
children: Mary Kelly Busch (b. 1947), Niven Terrence Busch (b. 1944)
Died on: March 6, 2005
place of death: New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
Teresa Wright was an American actress best known for her performance in ‘Mrs. Miniver’ for which she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1942. A much respected actress of her era, she was more than just a beautiful face. Known for her acting skills and dedication to work, she became the only performer ever to be nominated for Academy Awards for her first three films. Born in Harlem, New York City during the late 1910s, she developed an interest in acting as a young girl. After seeing Helen Hayes star in the play ‘Victoria Regina,’ she decided to seriously pursue acting as a career. As a student, she played leading roles in school plays which earned her scholarship to the Wharf Theater in Provincetown. She ventured into a stage career following her graduation and enjoyed a successful stint. It was during one of her stage performances that she came to the notice of film producer Samuel Goldwyn who offered her a film contract. A serious actress from the very beginning, she refused to be labeled as a sex symbol and focused more on making her acting skills to stand out. She earned much respect for her professionalism in a long career that spanned over five decades.
Childhood & Early Life
Muriel Teresa Wright was born on October 27, 1918 in Harlem, New York City to Martha (née Espy) and Arthur Hendricksen Wright, an insurance agent. Her parents separated when she was young and she spent her childhood staying with different relatives.
She attended Columbia High School and became interested in acting as a student. In 1936, she went to watch Helen Hayes perform in ‘Victoria Regina’ at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City. This incident greatly inspired the young girl and she began playing leading roles in school plays.
She went to the Wharf Theater in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on a scholarship she acquired with the help of a teacher. She apprenticed for two summers and graduated from high school in 1938.
She then went to New York where she was hired as understudy to Dorothy McGuire and Martha Scott for the role of Emily in Thornton Wilder's stage production of ‘Our Town’ at Henry Miller's Theatre.
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Teresa Wright began playing the role of Mary Skinner in the stage play ‘Life with Father’ in 1939. Film producer, Samuel Goldwyn, saw her perform and immediately recognized her potential. He hired her to play the role of Bette Davis' daughter in the 1941 adaptation of Lillian Hellman's ‘The Little Foxes.’
She was much appreciated for her debut performance which earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The next two films—‘The Pride of the Yankees’ (1942) and ‘Mrs. Miniver’ (1942)—were also critically acclaimed ones which made young Teresa a recognized actress in Hollywood.
Her string of successes continued with the acclaimed thriller ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ (1943), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, in which she played an innocent young woman who discovers her uncle is a serial murderer. Her performance in the 1946 movie, ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’, was also well received.
A serious actress from the very beginning, she refused to pose for photograph that would portray her as a sex symbol. She also had several other complaints against the studio system. Her stance, which was viewed as rigid, brought her to conflict with Samuel Goldwyn in 1948 and led to the cancellation of her contract.
Her film career was not as successful in the 1950s. She appeared in a string of unsuccessful films including ‘The Capture’ (1950), ‘Something to Live For’ (1952), ‘California Conquest’ (1952), ‘The Steel Trap’ (1952), ‘Count the Hours’ (1953), and ‘Track of the Cat. (1954).
During the late 1950s she returned to the theatre and also began working frequently in television. Her successful stage plays from this era include ‘The Rainmaker’ (1955) and ‘The Dark at the Top of the Stairs’ (1957).
She remained active on the New York stage throughout the 1960s, playing Mary McKellaway in ‘Mary, Mary’ (1962), Alice in ‘I Never Sang for My Father’ (1968), and Mary Hallen in ‘Who's Happy Now?’ (1969). In addition to her stage work, she also appeared in several television productions including episodes for ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’ (1964), ‘Bonanza’ (1964) and ‘The Defenders’ (1965).
During her later years she focused more on the stage and television though she also appeared in a few films. She played the role of the grandmother in ‘The Good Mother’ (1988) and the role of Miss Birdie in John Grisham's ‘The Rainmaker’ (1997).
Teresa Wright impressed the film critics with her performance as Alexandra Giddens in her debut film ‘The Little Foxes.’ She played the role of an innocent and kind-hearted girl who struggles with a villainous and manipulative mother. The role earned her a nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Her role of Carol Beldon in the romantic war drama film ‘Mrs. Miniver’ in 1942 is also counted amongst her most memorable performances. In 2009, the film was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant.
Awards & Achievements
She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Carol Beldon in the film ‘Mrs. Miniver’ in 1942.
Personal Life & Legacy
Teresa Wright was twice married and twice divorced. Her first marriage was to writer, Niven Busch, from 1942 to 1952. They had two children.
She tied the knot for the second time with playwright Robert Anderson in 1959. The couple divorced in 1978 after almost two decades of marriage. However, they maintained a close relationship till the very end.
She died on March 6, 2005, of a heart attack, at the age of 86.
This American actress is the only performer ever to be nominated for Academy Awards for her first three films.