Saturday, August 30, 2014

Award-Winning Birthday Girl

Happy birthday to the one and only Shirley Booth, born August 30, 1898. With a career that lasted more than 50 years, and the proud possessor of an Academy Award, two Tony Awards, and two Emmy Awards, she may still be best-remembered as the goodhearted, busybody maid of TV's Hazel. 

Surprisingly, she was never the subject of a full-length biography until I published Shirley Booth: A Biography and Career Record in 2008. It was a privilege to spend more than a year researching her impressive career, and talking to colleagues like actresses Joyce Van Patten and Elizabeth Wilson, television producer Saul Turteltaub, and child actor Pat Cardi (Jeff Williams on Hazel), among others. All were happy to share their memories of this legendary leading lady of the American theater, and shed light on both the actress and the woman they knew off-stage.

Though her Oscar-winning performance in Come Back, Little Sheba is still a classic, I'm also quite fond of her lesser-known star turn in About Mrs. Leslie, opposite Robert Ryan. Her film performances are few in number, since she focused largely on her stage career, but those that endure are well worth your time to seek out and enjoy.

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