Teresa Wright made an extraordinary debut as an actress, receiving Oscar nominations in three of her first four movies — many of which remain classics today.
Wright rose to prominence after appearing on Broadway in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and garnering the notice of Samuel Goldwyn talent scouts; they then hired her as an actor in some of Goldwyn’s films.
Early Life and Education
Wright began her theatrical career thanks to a scholarship at the Wharf Theater in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Soon thereafter she was discovered by Samuel Goldwyn talent scouts who cast her in his 1941 film The Little Foxes as Alexandra Giddens.
Her performance earned her an Oscar nomination and audiences continue to cherish her in films like Mrs. Miniver, Shadow of a Doubt and The Best Years of Our Lives.
Wright made history when she became the first actress ever nominated for three consecutive Academy Awards in the early 1940s. She was best known for her performances in Broadway revivals of Death of a Salesman and Mornings at Seven. Additionally, Wright had roles on numerous television shows and made-for-TV movies; her final film appearance being Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rainmaker.
Teresa Wright quickly established herself as an outstanding talent, earning Oscar-worthy recognition within three films of acting. Notable film directors William Wyler called her his most promising actress while Alfred Hitchcock admired her preparation and professionalism.
Wright seamlessly transitioned from stage to screen, appearing in numerous highly acclaimed Broadway and touring plays before appearing in numerous made-for-TV movies and series such as Playhouse 90’s original TV version of The Miracle Worker in 1957; Breck Sunday Showcase feature The Margaret Bourke-White Story; and CBS drama series Dolphin Cove (1989).
Returning to Broadway for William Inge’s play Dark at the Top of the Stairs in 1957, she continued acting throughout regional theater and ultimately achieved iconic status by her mid 90s performance career.
Achievement and Honors
Teresa Wright made an immediate impact with her early film work, earning Oscar nominations for each of her first three pictures. Discovered by producer Samuel Goldwyn while performing Lillian Hellman’s Life With Father on Broadway, Teresa debuted as an actress with Wyler’s civic-minded wartime drama Mrs. Miniver (1942). Later that same year she appeared as Lou Gehrig’s altruistic wife in The Pride of the Yankees (1943) before taking her big break starring opposite Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943).
Wright earned rave reviews for her performance as a goody-two-shoes niece who discovers the murderous uncle, over Joseph Cotten (an established star at the time). Wright received another Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in 1947 for The Men.
Muriel Teresa Wright was an intelligent, emotive actress renowned for her stunning performances during and around World War II in Hollywood movies. From an early age she took her craft seriously; as an apprentice at Wharf Theater Provincetown before understudying Martha Scott for Emily Webb in Thornton Wilder’s original 1938 Broadway production of Our Town before landing an original role in Lindsay and Crouse’s long-running Broadway play Life With Father by Lindsay and Crouse.
As she avoided the sophomore slump in her screen career, earning Oscar nominations for both of her roles (Eleanor Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees and Greer Garson’s daughter-in-law in William Wyler’s Mrs. Miniver); this made her one of only a handful of actors ever to receive nominations in all three films released within her first three years; additionally she appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s suspenseful Shadow of a Doubt as an innocent niece suspecting Joseph Cotten of serial murdering his seemingly normal uncle played by Mary Stewart (played by Susannah Hitchcock herself).
Wright had an intuitive sense of how to portray characters, never settling for one-note portrayals of her roles. Off screen as well, Wright was known for being kind-hearted; she donated money towards Bill Clinton’s presidential bid of 1996.
She attended Wharf Theater in Massachusetts on scholarship and began acting before making her film debut with Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes in 1941. Since then she has played notable roles such as Greer Garson’s daughter-in-law in Mrs. Miniver and Lou Gehrig’s wife in Pride of the Yankees – cementing her position as one of Hollywood’s leading ladies and earning two Oscar nominations as well. Additionally she was widely celebrated for memorable performances in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt and William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives among many others.