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February 05, 2008


Kill the people.


There never was before, nor never again will be the likes of Thelma Ritter.

"Classless," indeed.

One of my favorite lines from "ALL ABOUT EVE"...The Bloodhounds line....! She was FABULOUS in everything she was ever in....! It is amazing that she was passed over so very many times by The Academy....!
A lovely tribute, Danny....!

I agree whole-heartedly with your post. She deserved better recognition then what she received. Has anybody ever put her name forward for a lifetime achievment award? Her body of work most definately deserves an oscar.

She should have won for Pick-up on South Street. What an exit!

I loved her in The Misfits. I always thought Gable, Monroe and Clift's characters could have avoided that entire mess of a third act that their triangle went through if only they had observed and actually listened to Ritter's character just before she disappeared.

Thank you for this.

Who couldn't love Thelma "that bed looks like a dead animal act" Ritter? Interestingly, I just read that Mario Cantone is to play the part based on her character from "Eve" in the City Center concert version of "Applause" with Christine Ebersole in the Margo Channing role.

Danny, I'm beginning to think we must have been separated at birth!

As a kid watching the late show with my mom (who learned to speak English mostly from US television) I was introduced to a whole world of talent. And Thelma Ritter was perhaps one who shone brightest for me.

I didn't know what a character actress was, but I did recognize a knock-out performance. And Ritter never failed to deliver.

She had this amazingly believable quality in everything she did. She seemed at the same time, world weary, but strong, full of wisdom, yet able to be surprised. And all, seemingly, without effort.

She gave me the impression of the "everyperson." Someone with whom I could immediatly identify. Someone's whose motivation I understood because I saw a bit of me in her characters.

It's amazing that she started in her 40's. And it's sad that she died so young really. But if there is a silver lining to this it's that we have a wonderful archive of her work, and it's a testament to her, and her talent, that we CD's refer to her when looking for a certain type.

But we also know when we list "Thelma Ritter Type" in breakdown's we'll be lucky if we can get someone with just a shadow of her talent. Because, really, there just won't ever be another Thelma Ritter!

What a thoroughly enjoyable read about one of THE best character actresses- evah!

In the early 1950's I used to ride my bike from Richmond Hill in Queens NY over to Forest Hills to play basketball. One day as we were sitting around after a game a womans voice called out "Hey Red how about running down to the store for me." That was the one and only Thelma Ritter, a wonderful person and a great actress.

I absolutely adore your tribute to the celluloid perfection that is Thelma Ritter, described so deftly by you and the myriad commenters who offered up their own love for Miss R. She's memorable in every movie you've mentioned, but my favorite role of hers may just be in 1963's A New Kind of Love, an otherwise campy yet deliciously voyeuristic fluff of a film starring real-life husband and wife Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Ritter is, as usual, the brazen, world-weary, loveless secretary pining for the boss's affections, and she zings a few unforgettable and expertly-timed lines - when asked about her perfume as she dresses suggestively for a single-gal's night on the town, for instance, she replies, "It's called 'My Sin'. I hope it's a prediction." How can you not love such sass coming from this woman who looks like the prototype for gin-drinking great-aunts worldwide?

Bottom line: Your movie knowledge astounds me, and your writing enthralls me. What a perfect combination.

Wow... my favorite of your posts so far! Did I miss the mention of "Pick Up On South Street"? her performance in that brings tears to my eyes everytime I think about it.

Don't worry about gayest blog. I'll beat you everytime.

your fiend,
mr. jones

At the lunch table at work we used to quiz each other about whom we'd choose to play ourselves in the movie of our lives. It didn't matter if the actor were still alive or not. My choice for me was immediate and unchanging-Thelma Ritter. What a presence she had and what a happy surprise to come across your tribute and to learn that there are folks who love her as much as I do.

Being a Thelma Ritter fan as all of you are, I wrote a song
for her to be used in my nonproduced show, You Can't
Live in L.A, Without a Car. The song is called "I Wouldn't
Mind Being Thelma Ritter" and you can see it on You Tube
under that title or possibly, my name. It is sung by a non-
professional in a home production, but you'll get the idea.

Arrived at this post via Google!
What a delight! I love Thelma Ritter, too!
I can't imagine anyone daring to think she was "classless." I should be so lucky to have a friend who could deliver lines about my life the way Ritter could.
Speaking of the IMDB, I was reading comments for an apparently dreadful film, "Boeing, Boeing," the only virtue of which is the one-time teaming of Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis. I was reading the comments because Ritter was in it. Post after post, people who had seen it said the only person who gave a great performance and delivered any comedic moments in this comedy was, who else, Thelma Ritter! I know I would like to see that film— I would wade though anything, just to see her create a few wonderful moments out of an otherwise lousy film.
*DAYDREAM* She should have had an anthology series on TV, i.e. Alcoa presents, The Thelma Ritter Hour, so she could have played a different character in a different situation every week. If she swirled through a set of elegant double-doors at the beginning of each episode, like Loretta Young did, no telling WHAT line she would have uttered!. But nobody would have flipped the channel!

In my opinion, Eve Arden was a "Thelma-Ritter-type," it's just that she started doing it in the 1930s, before anybody knew what to call it!

Thelma Ritter is one of the all time great character actresses. period. Anyone who thinks otherwise has no sense of humor!!!!!

Thelma Ritter is one of the all time great character actresses. period. Anyone who thinks otherwise has no sense of humor!!!!!

I LOVE Thelma! I wish they would release on DVD Model and the Marriage Broker! She is so great in that as in all things. When you can hold your own in a scene with anyone inc. the likes of Bette Davis then you are really something. Which she was.
Thanks for remembering her.

I have been a big fan of Thelma Ritter since she made "The Mating Season". I am thrilled to read all these comments about her performances! Altho "Boeing Boeing" was a dumb film, Thelma Ritter made it well worth watching. Oh, was she funny! I have several letters written to me by this dear lady, which I treasure. Once, while in NYC with my family, I came "this close" to meeting her in person. Unfortunately for me, she was about to leave for Hollywood to make "The Farmer Takes a Wife", with Betty Grable. I had never seen it until just the other day. Another forgettable movie; but they even had her sing a couple of lines (she wore a red wig - but was still recognizable. I'm so happy to know there are a lot of T.R. fans out there!

Thelma Ritter was the best. I knew I would be entertained in whatever role she played. I am gratified that she is still remembered by so many after all these years.

As far as credits go, Thelma got the shaft in The Mating Season! She credited third, behind Gene Tierney, John Lund, and Gloria Whateverthehellherlastnameis. Isn't obvious Thelma's the main character, the protoginist, the moral center?!

What a wonderful post. I'm watching Pillow Talk and had forgotten Thelma Ritter was in the film. I am always excited when I come across her films as Rear Window, The Misfits and All About Eve are three of my favorites for many reasons, one reason especially for the presence of Ms. Ritter.

This was a joy to read.

Any individual that would call Thelma Ritter "classless" is lacking the ability to understand the nuanced performance and lacks a tad bit of class themselves.

Thank you much for a great article on Thelma Ritter. She was my favorite character actress too; how about a book? You would be the first.

Wow! Just stumbled onto this post and couldn't believe all of the Thelma Ritter fans. She was so believeable in any role she played. She was a joy to watch - I especially enjoyed watching THAT FACE react to another actor's lines. She was such a classy lady and brought depth and insight to any role. They just don't make 'em like her anymore!

I loved Thelma Ritter also and am proud she came from Brooklyn (my hometown). What I would like to know is which year of birth is correct - 1902 or 1905?? About half the references to Ritter on the Net indicate 1902 and the other half indicate 1905. I tried looking up Thelma Ritter or Thelma Moran in the census at, but to no avail.

Anybody know??


Does anyone know if there has ever been a biography written about Thelma Ritter? If not there should be. I love her. She's one of my favorite actresses and I'd really like to know more about her.

Yes, Ritter was brilliant, one of my lifelong favorites, and people who don't think so have their taste limited to their mouths. "Pillow Talk" is also a near-perfect example of its kind, and of its time and place.
"Why, Harry, yer so STONG!"

Yes, Ritter was brilliant, one of my lifelong favorites, and people who don't think so have their taste limited to their mouths. "Pillow Talk" is also a near-perfect example of its kind, and of its time and place.
"Why, Harry, yer so STONG!"

Thelma Ritter lived in Forest Hills Gardens on Greenway Terrace. I wrote an article about her that can be found at: She was quite a gal.

To echo Kris's comment above. . . Whenever Thelma Ritter shares the screen, I've noticed that she's the one I'm watching, not Grace Kelly, not Bette Davis.

When someone says "Thelma Ritter," the first word that pops into your head probably isn't "magnetic" or "charismatic," but that's what she is.

Thelma owned the scene she was in like Picasso or Monet owned their word out of her mouth and she had you in her world. I think genuine is the best way I would describe her. Genuine with a twist, and make that a double.

JEW EAT YET?? This blog is like an oasis of civilization in the internet desert.
What Miss Coonan said about her french ventriloquist applies to you, Mr. Miller:"There wasn't nothin' he didn't know."

I may have mentioned it before. But if you go to YouTube and look under Thelma Ritter, you can see a song written in honor of her. Sorry, it wasn't a professionally done production, but a home show
produced by friends. But check it out, Thelma Ritter fans.

From the time I was a kid,long,long ago, every time I saw a movie with Thelma Ritter in it, I knew I could look foward to a great performance from her, even if the movie wasn't so great.She always came through and I couldn't wait for her to deliver a line that would steal the show.
Thanks for the tribute.

I wish I had read this two years ago when you posted it, we were just watching "How The West Was One" and wondered how many movies Thelma Ritter did. We love her and as far as "class" goes, I find that the only people who claim to be classy are the people who are NOT.

Thelma was a pal, a side-kick, the voice of reason and the wit in every movie. I loved her honest character portrayal. While others were fixing their hair and mugging for the camera, Thelma worked and created characters so believable it was like we knew her. She's the bright spot in so many movies, I'm sure every leading actor and actress envied the way she stole their scenes. She's probably the only actress who was able to steal every movie she ever appeared in.

How lucky we are to enjoy her films whenever we want. I bet Thelma's up in Heaven right now giving some of the "stars" her dead pan gaze that was so deadly.

This post really had me thinking about this particular issue in way I havent before. Its something I do believe we need to talk about more. Thankyou.

THERE WAS NO ONE LIKE THE WOMAN! Just study her short, subtle,understated performance in "Miracle on 34th Street." Nothing dynamic about the dialogue-just a normal interaction which could have been held between millions of mothers and store Santas. But, Thelma not only made herself memoriable to meriad movie goers, but she received the ultimate compliment to any actor; her part was expanded by none other than Darryl F. Zanack! Don't try to tell me she over-acts. Praises to GOD for creating Thelma Ritter. And, please note-she and her husband stayed together forever-another remarkable feat in Hollywood.

She stole every scene she was in!!! I don't think you could ever catch her acting!

I liked your article until you started with the liberal bull. You ought to just stick to what you know: Thelma Ritter. I wonder how you feel now about your great Obama. Great way to ruin a piece.

Thelma queen of character actors! I grew up watching her films and today at 57 yrs. old, I search the channels looking to catch yet another. Her timimg was incredible and facial expressions delightful!

I just ADORE Thelma Ritter. First time I saw her was when I was a small boy in MOVE OVER DARLING with Doris Day and James Garner. She was incredible in so many films, including ALL ABOUT EVE of course and LOVED her in THE MISFITS.

Thank you Danny Miller. You have exquisite taste,

Thelma was one of the best actress around the world I always was following his career because she had an incredible charisma.

I did a Google search on Thelma Ritter and found this website. I always loved Thelma Ritter from the fist time I saw Miracle on 34th Street as a kid. Great tribute and comments, i enjoyed reading this. Thelma was a talented actress and was in so many great movies. I'm glad to see she has a lot of fans

I loved her in The Misfits. I always thought Gable, Monroe and Clift's characters could have avoided that entire mess of a third act that their triangle went through if only they had observed and actually listened to Ritter's character just before she disappeared.

Thelma was PERFECTION. Nuff said.

100% agreement with your comments.
Finally, justice is done to a great artist.

I'm another one who googled Thelma Ritter and discovered this site. I had always heard that her career started with her brilliant turn as the tired but tough as nails housewife in Miracle on 34th St, and now I see it definitely did.

Though it sounds odd to say this about a character actress, Miss Ritter had amazing star quality and commanded the screen whenever she appeared. She may not have won an Oscar, but the comments of praise here, made 40 years after her death, are an award in themselves.

I just saw Mating Season last night. She stole the movie! I then went to Wikipedia and saw that she got an academy award and golden globe nomination for her role. RIGHT ON!
I had seen her in Pickup on South Street twice..

I will show Mating Season to more of my family soon.

There are many movies that would have been nothing without Thelma Ritter's wild comments. She was a wonderful scene stealer and I still think she was terrific.

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Someone once told me my wisecracks reminded hin of Thelma Ritter. I've always regarded that as the greatest compliment I ever received. You were THE BEST, Thelma!

Just finished watching Pillow Talk and every time I see it she cracks me up! Love and adore her! Rear Window and The Misfits too! She knocks it out the park EVERY time. One of a kind gem!
Have a look. Rather than 'stretching' as an actress - trying vainly to show her range - she goes deeper. Deeper into every world-weary, cynical character she ever played. They had better lives than this character, but maybe every wise-cracking maid or nurse, every lady on the street, every Mom, or friend to the leading lady has felt as this character does. I feel like this sometimes too.

I googled a list of the "Top Ten Character Actresses" and waited to see where they had Thelma Ritter listed. SHE WAS NOT EVEN MENTIONED!!!! Laura Hope Crews came in fourth and they could not come up with the name of the greates character actress of all???? She had humanity and played every role to perfection! Please don't forget WITH A SONG IN MY HEART. She steals the show from Susan Hayward at every turn! Check it out. Tom in Charleston SC loves her!

thank you fro your sharing !!
What a wonderful post.!!

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If I'm in another room and I happen to hear Ms Ritter's voice coming from the tv, a feeling of great warmth washes over me (like the time I found my Mother, after getting lost in A&S).
When I watch her movies, she always feels like she is part of the old friend. She must have been a very intelligent woman to have played each character so convincingly. I think, too, she must have been a very modest woman; I don't think she knew just how good she was.

Loved the post. And the "liberal bull," for that matter.

The woman was God sent. She told us all a story that He wanted us to hear. As some people have said before,there never was and probably will never be an actress like the person of Thelma Ritter. She truly enveloped the art of acting and made her audience respect the character that she was playing.It has been a void world without her and her tenacious comedy.

The woman was God sent. She told us all a story that He wanted us to hear. As some people have said before,there never was and probably will never be an actress like the person of Thelma Ritter. She truly enveloped the art of acting and made her audience respect the character that she was playing.It has been a void world without her and her tenacious comedy.

Watching the Misfits right now and thinking how great Thelma Ritter was. Where are the Thelmas today? Who can deliver a zinger like her?

there will never be another like her. I am so sorry that the people of today dont appreciate her.

One of the posters here mentioned the humanity Thelma Ritter brought to her roles. She wasn't *just* the wisecracking second banana - although once she delivered a line, you never forgot it. But she brought a great depth to a movie cast, a real sense of the world as it is and a large helping of common-sense wisdom. I'm sad to discover she died relatively young.

Just watched Rear Window again and wondefully funny performance

In "The Incident", Ritter has a great moment where her husband is being taunted by a psychopath, and even though she's scared to death she delivers a slap across his face. A brief moment of terror followed by indignation. It's brilliant, and I will never forget it.

I was with you right up to the moment you started gushing about that anti-Israel moron Obama.

I loved Thelma Ritter's parts, including the stunning one she gave in the Birdman of Alcatraz as the clinging and unforgiving mother,.

But you sully her name by comparing her to that nebbish fool who prefers to romance the Muslim Brotherhood than stand up for American values, and Israel.

Getting ready to watch "The Proud and the Profane" on Netflix. William Holden, Deborah Kerr, and Thelma Ritter. Her name is on the cast list and that's all I need to know. I have always loved character actors because I think they truly get the more interesting parts. Ritter was a prize and I have been a huge fan of hers since I was a little girl. Yours was a lovely tribute. With that said I plan to pour a drink, get a bowl of popcorn, curl up on the sofa, and spend the next two hours totally entertained.

Classless? The moron who made the comment obviously does not understand the meaning of class.

Thanks for the great piece on Thelma Ritter. The lady had it all and was one of the greatest scene stealers in movie history. She always managed to stand out. Your tribute to her really nailed it.
My idea of a good two hours spent, is a Coke Zero, a bowl of popcorn, and a movie with Ritter. What an actress.

What a great actress. looked forward to seeing her in everything she did, roles small or large, she was outstanding.

david pearl

If ever anyone deceives an academy award for achievement, it should be Thelma Ritter, she was one of a kind. When she was on the screen, she stole the scene, didn't matter if it was one word. She had an incredible range fro comedy to drama.

The fact, that she is so well remembered father all of these years speaks volumes about her.

She was truly an underrated American treasure

I googled Thelma Ritter's name, as I like to learn about some of the great actors and actresses of the past, and am amazed to find out that today is the anniversary of her death. Is it more than just a coincidence? Anyway, I love reading all these comments about such a wonderful actress. I especially love her in "All About Eve" and "Rear Window". May more people learn of this wonderful performer's body of work and appreciate her talent. She's truly one-of-a-kind.

me too, me too. I love Thelma Ritter too!
"You know we got cherries jubilee, you read it to me from a book."
Thelma as Saidie Dugan
thanks for remembering a great talent

Thelma Ritter is one of the greatest character actors in the long golden history of Hollywood. To be nominated an incredible SIX times for an Academy Award and NOT to win it even once is almost unbelievable for an actress whose many unforgettable performances shine through with wit, style and class. Also quite unbelievable - is the fact that Thelma Ritter is NOT honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? How did that happen? What can we do to change this shocking omission? I can just hear Miss Ritter's withering observations on that one! A great star who will always live on in the hearts of those of us who value and love her work and the unforgettable legacy of her wonderful performances. RIP Thelma

I was gratified to find this lovely tribute to Thelma Ritter, after curiously "googling" her name after viewing "The Mating Season" for the first time. She was an accomplished actress and well deserving of the accolades from all those commenting.

I was also thrilled to find she had a marriage that lasted. I share your appreciation of this fine actress.

a genius... never come again..

I don't understand the title of this post -- who said Thelma Ritter needed any defending?

Watched Ms. Ritter in 'A Different King of Love', again, tonight. She needn't utter one word; that's the character and the acting that will remain in memory. Thank you for writing about her.

Thelma Ritter should receive the most prestigious tributes.

Thanks for a great spot to shine the light on a wonderful actdress. I always love this woman. As I watch Rear Window right now I see again and again the little things that make a person real. She can tell a story. Thelma Ritter is missed

I have long wondered but have yet to find out definition information about whether Thelma Ritter was Jewish. Does anyone here happen to know?

Thelma Ritter in Rear Window: AWESOME!! :)

What does it matter what religious affiliation she had. People in this country dwell too much on labels. The woman was an incredible character actress. I am watching "Rear Window" at the moment and she steals every scene she is in, just as she does in every movie. She is one the most underrated actresses of our time.

Happy to see the outpouring of praise for the wonderful Thelma Ritter! Your passion is shared by many to be sure. As for the individual who speaks ill of the great lady,well...we beg to differ.
Thanks for your tribute!

You entirely missed "A Hole in the Head" with some guy named Sinatra. Thelma played Edward G. Robinson's wife as they try to engineer a new wife for Sinatra, and she was GREAT, as usual. Geronimo!

I had the unique opportunity to live in her son's house in the late 80's in Woodland Hills California. I was renting a room there, a friend of mine already out there had lived there as well, kind of a house watcher when he was working long hours at 20th century Fox as a grip supervisor and spending weekends in Big Bear.
I remember in the dinning room area there was a small desk, and above the desk was framed invitations and thank you cards from Mimi Eisenhower and invitations to the white house. There was a little storage type room that Tony (her son) said I could look and see if there pictures or anything I'd like to put on the walls of my room. I couldn't believe it when I saw tony & Oscar nominations in frames. There was also a (can't remember what it's formal name is) like a small China cabinet with drawers at the bottom. Anyway he was showing me stuff in there and one item he showed me and read a little was his mother's diary from when she was younger and starting out on Broadway. I remember one entry her mentioning a friend that committed suicide. Anyway, great memories of my tiny experience regarding Thelma Ritter. I was just watching Rear Window for the 100th time & looked up her name again and thought I'd share with those who also thought this lady was awesome.

Thelma Ritter - God bless her! She was and remains the best, of the best character actresses ever!
Awards, for anything, are a way to (dump aside) a select few who all have as much, or more, talent as the winner!
Elizabeth Montgomery created a great body of work with Bewitched (with quality early year scripts and Dick York), nominated 9 times for her work in that series, she never won.

Thelma Ritter was fantastic as a Red Cross volunteer in the WWII drama, The Proud and the Profane (Deborah Kerr, Wm. Holden). She was tough and tender and carried her part against two of the greats of Hollywood. i can't imagine why anyone would find any of her work boring! YouTube, and other venues, are likely to enhance her reputation as new generations of views have a chance to see her in action - Just as Deborah Kerr is now being rediscovered by a whole new generations!

when I was 15 I was lucky enough to see the ill fated james Kirkwood comedy "utbu" unhealthy to be unkind at the original Helen hayes theater starring none other than thelma ritter. I loved every minute of this madcap sinister farce. this put me in the minority. it was the only time I got to see her on stage I cherish the memory and I've since framed the playbill.

I'm sitting here tonight watching "The Model and the Marriage Broker, a film Ms. Ritter made in 1952. I have long admired Ms. Ritter and her work and just wanted to read a little more about her when I happened upon this post. It's interesting to note that although this post was written in 2008, comments are still being added about this amazingly talented woman.

So many words come to mind when looking to describe her and her work, so I'll just settle on these: Her work was simple, clean and honest.

She made you want to be a better person, try a little harder, look for the silver lining and be a little more optimistic about life. She made me smile.

And thanks to film, we'll be able to treasure Ms. Ritter for years to come.

I've always loved Thelma Ritter. Her comedic talents are pure, pure genius! I just can't believe that she never won an Oscar. She brilliantly delivers her lines in the same incredible dry-wit manner of Eve Arden. In my opinion, Thelma Ritter was one of the most UNDER-RATED actresses of her time.

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