Actress Shelley Winters dies at 85
Actress Shelley Winters, whose long career ranged from sexpot showgirl, to serious dramatic actress, to playing Roseanne's outspoken, poker-playing grandmother on Roseanne in the 1990s, passed away today at the age of 85 of heart failure. Winters had been hospitalized in October after a heart attack. Winters won Oscars in 1959 for The Diary of Anne Frank and again in 1965 for A Patch of Blue, in which she played a hateful mother who tries to end her blind daughter's friendship with a black man, played by Sidney Poitier. Winters, a serioius actress who once said "it takes twenty years to become an actor", was a devotee of The Actors Studio.
I really loved Winters in her recurring role on Roseanne, which is still one of my favorite television shows ever. Winters and Roseanne Barr had such similar delivery styles, she was completely believable as Roseanne's grandmother. What really made Winters stand out, though, was her willingness to continually reinvent herself. She began her career as a voluptous sex kitten, but later in life when she gained weight she became the butt of many comedians' jokes.
An interesting TV tidbit about Winters that perfectly captures her personality: On the Tonight Show in 1972, she shocked viewers by heatedly arguing with Oliver Reed about his opinions on women, then storming off the set. She returned moments later and dumped a champagne bucket of ice and water on Reed's head. Reed tried to attack her, but the stage crew intervened. They should have been more worried about Winters kicking Reed's butt than the other way around. The lady didn't put up with guff from anyone.