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Shirley Booth

Shirley Booth

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Hazel: Season 1 DVD Everyone's favorite housekeeper comes to DVD! Oscar® Winner Shirley Booth... more info $19.99was $19.99 Buy Now



Also Known As: Thelma Booth Ford Died: October 16, 1992
Born: August 30, 1898 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: comedian, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A celebrated Broadway star of long standing, Shirley Booth graced two TV series and a handful of films with her warm, if often acerbic, presence. Leaving high school to pursue acting, Booth appeared in over 600 plays in stock before her career really got off the ground. Her Broadway debut came in the 1925 "Hell's Bells" (which also featured newcomer Humphrey Bogart), but it wasn't until a decade later that she enjoyed her first major success in George Abbott's Runyonesque comedy, "Three Men on a Horse" (1935). Booth's fortunes improved considerably after she originated the role of intrepid news photographer Liz Imbrie in the Broadway smash "The Philadelphia Story" (1939), starring Katharine Hepburn. Other notable Broadway roles followed: a wisecracking writer in "My Sister Eileen" (1940); an anti-fascist teacher in "Tomorrow the World" (1943); a vivacious gossip columnist in "Hollywood Pinafore" (1945); and, in a Tony-winning performance, the sophisticated secretary to a US congresswoman in "Goodbye, My Fancy" (1949). The most important role of Booth's career came in 1950 with the Broadway production of William Inge's "Come Back, Little Sheba", in which she played a slovenly, gabby housewife...

A celebrated Broadway star of long standing, Shirley Booth graced two TV series and a handful of films with her warm, if often acerbic, presence. Leaving high school to pursue acting, Booth appeared in over 600 plays in stock before her career really got off the ground. Her Broadway debut came in the 1925 "Hell's Bells" (which also featured newcomer Humphrey Bogart), but it wasn't until a decade later that she enjoyed her first major success in George Abbott's Runyonesque comedy, "Three Men on a Horse" (1935).

Booth's fortunes improved considerably after she originated the role of intrepid news photographer Liz Imbrie in the Broadway smash "The Philadelphia Story" (1939), starring Katharine Hepburn. Other notable Broadway roles followed: a wisecracking writer in "My Sister Eileen" (1940); an anti-fascist teacher in "Tomorrow the World" (1943); a vivacious gossip columnist in "Hollywood Pinafore" (1945); and, in a Tony-winning performance, the sophisticated secretary to a US congresswoman in "Goodbye, My Fancy" (1949).

The most important role of Booth's career came in 1950 with the Broadway production of William Inge's "Come Back, Little Sheba", in which she played a slovenly, gabby housewife wistfully hanging onto her illusions (embodied in her runaway dog, Sheba) and inadvertently driving her husband to drink. She recreated the role (to Oscar-winning effect) in Daniel Mann's film version and acted in several other features, notably "The Matchmaker" (1958), based on the Thornton Wilder play which later became "Hello, Dolly!".

Although Hollywood briefly tried to make a character star out of the dumpy, likably plain-Jane Booth, "About Mrs. Leslie" (1954), a watchable soap opera, didn't quite prove the item for the task at hand. In Booth's later years TV proved the ideal medium for her combination of ready recognizability and sincere, forthright sentiment. For many TV viewers, Booth is best remembered as "Hazel" (NBC 1961-65; CBS 1965-66), the housekeeper extraordinaire forever warning "Mr. B" (Don DeFore) about the dangers of domestic life and undercutting his authority at every opportunity.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Hot Spell (1958) Alma Duval
2.
 The Matchmaker (1958) Dolly "Gallagher" Levi
3.
 About Mrs. Leslie (1954) Vivien Keeler, also known as Mrs. Leslie
4.
 Come Back, Little Sheba (1953) Lola Delaney
5.
 Main Street to Broadway (1953) Herself
6.
 Year Without a Santa Claus, The (1974) Voice Of Mrs Santa Claus
7.
 Year Without a Santa Claus, The (1974) Narration
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1913:
Dropped out of high school against her father's wishes to pursue an acting career at age 14 (approximate date)
1921:
First role as professional actress, in the thriller "The Cat and the Canary" in Hartford, Connecticut
1921:
Worked in New Haven in stock for over a year after her stage debut
1925:
Made Broadway debut in "Hell's Bells"
:
Gained popular and critical attention performing in skits written by Dorothy Parker and staged at the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel in New York; was paid with a room for the night and breakfast
1935:
Breakthrough role as the ingenue lead of a gangster's moll in George Abbott's long-running comedy play "Three Men on a Horse"
:
Played the role of Miss Duffy on the popular radio program "Duffy's Tavern" in the early 1940s
1950:
Originated the role of Lola Delaney opposite Sidney Blackmer in the Broadway production of William Inge's "Come Back, Little Sheba"
1952:
Made film debut in adaptation of stage success, "Come Back, Little Sheba"; won Best Actress Oscar
1958:
Made last feature films, "Hot Spell" and "The Matchmaker"
:
Played the title role of Hazel Burke on the popular TV sitcom, "Hazel" (on NBC 1961-1965, CBS 1965-1966), based on the <i>Saturday Evening Post</i> cartoon character created by Ted Key
1966:
Played the leading role of Amanda Wingfield in a CBS Playhouse presentation of Tennessee Williams's "The Glass Menagerie"
1968:
Performed in her only original made-for-TV movie, "The Smugglers"; film, airing on Christmas Eve, had the dubious distinction of being interrupted by news of Apollo 8's approach to the moon, with the end result that the film was never aired in its entirety
1973:
Played the title role of Grace Sherwood, an elderly widow who finds romance, on the ABC sitcom, "A Touch of Grace"
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Notes

"[Booth's acting] radiates all through a large theater and draws an audience close together. The stage begins to glow the moment she steps on it and the audience melts, like a crowd of children whose imagination has been captured by someone they trust. No one else in the theater has made native decency so human, so triumphant and so captivating." --The New York Times drama critic Brooks Atkinson, reviewing Booth's performance in the 1954 Broadway musical, "By the Beautiful Sea"

"The mailman, the grocer, and even school kids know, it's worth their while to stop and watch that smile when Hazel says Hello. ..." --From the opening credits for the sitcom "Hazel"

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Ed Gardner. Actor, comedian. Married in 1929; divorced in 1942; played Archie of the famous "Duffy's Tavern" radio program, a role he recreated for the 1945 film of the same name.
husband:
William H Baker Jr. Investment banker, artist, farmer. Married from September 24, 1943 until his 1951 death from heart disease.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Albert J Ford. Business executive. Booth was estranged from her father after her parents separation.
mother:
Virginia Ford. Died in 1933.
step-mother:
Rita Ford.
sister:
Jean Coe. Survived her.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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