- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 14, 2006

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Shelley Winters, the forceful, outspoken star who graduated from blond bombshell parts to dramas, winning Academy Awards as supporting actress in “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “A Patch of Blue,” has died. She was 85.

Miss Winters died of heart failure early yesterday at the Rehabilitation Center of Beverly Hills, her publicist, Dale Olson, said. She had been hospitalized in October after suffering a heart attack.

The actress sustained her long career by repeatedly reinventing herself. Starting as a nightclub chorus girl, she advanced to supporting roles in New York plays, then became famous as a Hollywood sexpot.

A devotee of the Actors Studio, she switched to serious roles as she matured. Her Oscars were for her portrayal of mothers. Still working well into her 70s, she had a recurring role as Roseanne’s grandmother on the 1990s TV show “Roseanne.”

“Shelley was idol of mine — and many — an extraordinary woman with powerful charisma, enormous talent and a keen, perceptive mind,” said longtime friend and actress Connie Stevens.

In 1959’s “The Diary of Anne Frank,” she was Petronella Van Daan, mother of Peter Van Daan, one of eight real-life Jewish refugees in World War II Holland who hid for more than a year in cramped quarters until they were betrayed and sent to Nazi death camps. The socially conscious Miss Winters donated her Oscar statuette to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

In 1965’s “Patch of Blue,” she portrayed a hateful, foul-mouthed mother who tries to keep her blind daughter, who is white, apart from the kind black man who has befriended her.

Ever vocal on social and political matters, Miss Winters was a favored guest on television talk shows, and she demonstrated her frankness in two autobiographies: “Shelley, Also Known as Shirley” (1980) and “Shelley II: The Middle of My Century” (1989).

Miss Winters wrote openly in them of her romances with Burt Lancaster, William Holden, Marlon Brando, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and other leading men. She also said after she came to Hollywood in the mid-1940s she was roommates with another rising starlet — Marilyn Monroe.

Miss Winters, whose given name was Shirley Schrift, was appearing in the Broadway hit “Rosalinda” when Columbia Pictures boss Harry Cohn offered her a screen test. A Columbia contact and a new name — Shelley Winters — followed.

Miss Winters received her final Oscar nomination, for 1972’s “The Poseidon Adventure,” in which she was one of a handful of passengers scrambling desperately to survive aboard an ocean liner turned upside down by a tsunami.

During her 50 years as a widely known personality, Miss Winters was rarely out of the news. Her stormy marriages, her romances with famous stars, her forays into politics and feminist causes kept her name before the public. She delighted in giving provocative interviews and seemed to have an opinion on everything.

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