Thelma Ritter

  • Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • Died: February 5, 1969
  • Profession: Actor
Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on

Next on TV

Fast Facts

  • Called "a great character actress, the best we had" by playwright-screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky after her death. 
  • Knew she wanted to act from a young age. At age 8 she performed monologues at her grammar school; at 11 she appeared in a semi-professional production of A Midsummer Night's Dream; and in her teens she acted in high-school plays.
  • Worked in an office for a time in order to raise money to afford drama school.
  • Met her future husband Joe in the late 1920s when both were working for a theater troupe in New England. He eventually left acting and entered advertising.
  • Appeared primarily in stock theater for the first 14 years of her career, though she did grace Broadway in the short-lived The Shelf (1926) and In Times Square (1931). . 
  • Left showbiz for a time during the 1940s to concentrate on her family and raise her children.
  • Recruited for a small part in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) by director George Seaton, who was a family friend. It was her first film role, at the age of 42.
  • Her brief Miracle on 34th Street turn so impressed 20th Century Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck that he signed her to a contract. 
  • Shared the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for New Girl in Town (1957) with costar Gwen Verdon; it was the first tie in Tony history.
  • Lived in Forest Hills, NY, all of her adult life.

Awards

  • 1958, Tony — Actress (Musical): Winner
  • 1951, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 1952, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 1953, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 1962, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 1951, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 1959, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 1952, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 1966, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 1956, Emmy — Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
  • 1950, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee

Relationships

  • Joseph Moran — Husband
  • Lucy Hale Ritter — Mother
  • Monica Moran — Daughter
  • Anthony Moran — Son
  • Charles Ritter — Father

College

  • Attended American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York, New York, United States
Cord-Cutting Guide. Credit: Robert Rodriguez / TV Guide

How to Cut Cable

How to stream the shows and sports you love

TV Yearbook

We honor TV's graduating class and freshmen most likely to succeed

My News

Sign up and add shows to get the latest updates about your favorite shows - Start Now