Actress Shelley Winter had a fierce, unquenchable thirst for almost everything in life. She is diving into juicy roles on the silver screen. Referring to it as her ‘eight-day ice cream diet’ or involvement in affairs with Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men. Winter isn’t in trouble satiating her many desires.
Well, that was true for most things, all except for one. Throughout her life’s journey, Shelley searched ceaselessly for true love. She finds what she wants on her deathbed at the age of 85, she marries her companion of 20 years. Gerry Deford, in a ceremony, officiated by her dear friend and fellow actress Sally Kirkland. Even though Gerry Deford was gay and their relationship was platonic, Shelley regarded Gerry Deford as her one true soulmate.
A minister in the Church of the Movement of Spiritual inner Awareness marries at the Rehabilitation Centre of Beverly Hills. It is an incredibly moving and joyous moment for all parties involved. Sally told reporters that at the ceremony Shelley was ‘crying for joy’.
Shelley Wasn’t Always Such A Romantic
As a young, budding actress, however, Shelley Winter had very different priorities than she had later on in her life. She shares her desires with her former roommate Marilyn Monroe while they were living together. It describes as a tiny apartment in Hollywood. Winters and Monroe would write up lists of all the men in show business that they wanted to date. The two young starlets reportedly would take turns bringing men home.
Monroe and Winters had very different tastes in men. Marilyn was into all of the intellectual types while Shelley just wanted to date all of the Italian heartthrobs.
Her film career spans 70 years. Including roles in classic films like The Poseidon Adventure, A Place in the Sun, A Patch of Blue, and The Diary of Anne Frank. The latter two earning her Oscars, Shelley’s love life is almost just as prolific.
Before she lives with Gerry deford, Shelley marries three separate times. Mack Mayer, Vittorio Gassman – whom she receives a daughter with – and her Hatful of Rain co-star Anthony Franciosa. Beyond those unions, Shelley admitted to having hundreds of affairs.
In her two memoirs, Shelley: as Shirley, and Shelley II: The Middle of My Century. The film star reveals many details about her countless flings with Hollywood hunks like William Holden, Burt Lancaster, Marlon Brando, Sean Connery, and John Ireland.
She describes Sean Connery as one of the tallest, most charming, and most masculine Scotsmen that she meets. Sally shares that Sean is Shelley’s, favorite love. After her funeral service in 2006, Sean calls her up and informs her that the feeling is mutual. Sadly, by the time he came to terms with that fact, it was already too late.
But it was Gerry deford who ultimately won Shelley Winter’s heart. She loves him dearly because he is honest and loyal to her and this way of always making her laugh. Gerry deford will do anything and even if the relationship isn’t sexual in nature, he’s the love of her life.
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More Details Of Shelley’s Life And Career
Born Shirley Schrift in St. Louis, Missouri, Shelley grew up in Brooklyn, New York with aspirations of becoming a famous actress. She worked at Woolworth’s grocery store where she successfully organized a strike with her female coworkers.
When she first started appearing in films, she’s not taken all that seriously. That is until she auditioned to play a dowdy factory worker in the 1951 film A Place in the Sun. She donned an old, tattered coat and hat with no makeup on and showed up to meet with George Stevens. The director initially didn’t even recognize her and cast her without hesitation.
Shelley’s Failed Marriages
Shelley’s four marriages, to a serviceman, Mack Paul Mayer, end after six years when he goes to Chicago. Shelley stayed behind in Hollywood to pursue her acting career which she wasn’t willing to simply pull the plug on.
Throughout her life, she never had very long relationships with any of her partners. Rather, she invested the majority of her energy and focus into her career. As we mention, she isn’t shy about her flings with countless men throughout her life – most of them are celebrities.
She married to Vittorio Gassman in 1952. Their relationship was particularly turbulent. On one occasion when he complained about the way that she prepared pasta. She dumped the entire pot of noodles on his head. The duo had one daughter together, Vittoria, in 1953, but they parted ways not long after. Tory, as she prefers to be called, grew up to be a doctor and Shelley never stopped being proud of her.
She Was An Incredibly Versatile Actress
Shelley continued to sign on to projects that challenged her to embody diverse roles. Like the matron who hides a Jewish family in The Diary of Anne Frank or a sex worker who blinds her daughter in A Patch of Blue. She always found something that she appreciated about the characters that she played, but she really hated having to play that vile, criminally abusive woman.
Shelley displayed the same sort of unrefined, straightforward qualities that she was all too familiar with in her personal life into all of her characters. She was incredibly raw and vulnerable and really didn’t need to be a film star even though she ended up becoming a massively popular one. And that’s precisely what made her such a great actor and teacher.
Her professional success at times caused the men in her life to become jealous. Shelley once described the evening that she brought her first Oscar home when she was married to her third husband Anthony Franciosa. Apparently, he took one look at it, and just seeing the expression on his face, Shelley knew that their marriage was over.
Weight Gain Forced Her To Switch Lanes
Shelley was never one to focus too much on the vain and superficial things. She didn’t think twice before agreeing to pack on the pound to play a doomed passenger in 1972s The Poseidon Adventure, but after filming had wrapped up, she found that she wasn’t able to easily slim down again. At first, she merely laughed it off. She joked that she wasn’t overweight, she was just ‘nine inches too short’.
But in private, she tried just about everything to lose the weight, including a pretty radical diet where she was medically put to sleep for several days, but nothing seemed to work.
Still, she didn’t let that little setback slow her down. She would get hired no matter what her weight was like. To her, it was almost a personal challenge, but not necessarily a professional one. She ended up switching from being a leading lady to doing character roles, and that didn’t seem to bother her in the least bit.
Shelley Was Quite The Firecracker
Her outlandish appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson made her even more notorious. One evening when she was a guest on the show back in 1975, Oliver Reed was spouting off some rather misogynistic views that he harbored when Shelley suddenly tossed a drink in his face.
She believed strongly in equality and freedom for women of all races, creeds, colors, and nationalities, and counted significant civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy as her friends and mentors. She believed that one could not be a decent actress unless they read the newspapers every day and were aware of what was going on in the world.
Shelley was socially and politically active throughout the entirety of her adult life. She was a registered Democrat and attended the 1960 Democratic National Convention. In 1965, She addressed the Selma Marchers – albeit briefly – outside Montgomery, Alabama on the evening before they marched into the state capital. Feeling like she had spent much of her life fighting oppressive forces, Shelley was often a defender of the underdog. She believed in justice and liberty for all even when that meant taking a stand against the status quo.
Shelley’s Later Years
She continued acting, portraying Roseanne’s outspoken grandmother on the stand-ups hit sitcom. But throughout her career, she was just as fiercely independent and stubborn as her character was. She worked hard for her livelihood and refused to compromise her values.
But despite being so independent, she loved the company of men and lived with her companion Gerry DeFord for the last two decades of her life.
Shelley suffered a heart attack in 2005 and was left bedridden, but she still enjoyed watching all of her old movies on television. She was overjoyed to see that her legacy was still relevant, right up to the end of her storied life.
On January 14, 2006, at the age of 85, Shelley Winters died after having another heart attack at the Rehabilitation Centre of Beverly hills. She was interred at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. Interestingly, Shelley’s third husband Anthony Franciosa, had a stroke on the very same day that she died and he too passed away just five days later.
Well, that’s all the time we’ve got left for this one. As always, we hope that you’ve enjoyed going on this little journey through time with us to celebrate the life, career, and many love interests of one of Hollywood’s most cherished actresses, Shelley Winters. She had a profound impact on the entertainment industry and left behind a legacy that will be celebrated for many years to come.
In the comments section below, let us know what your favorite Shelley Winters movie was. Maybe you’re a huge fan of her powerful performance in 1959s The Diary of Anne Frank or perhaps you preferred her in 1972s The Poseidon Adventure. Either way, we’d love to hear from you.
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