There were a lot of classic film actresses that carried an image throughout their career and beyond. They were labeled as the “Sex Symbol” or the “Femme-Fatale” such as Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall. Teresa Wright’s image was “The Girl Next Door.”
Muriel Teresa Wright was born on October 27, 1918 in Manhattan, New York. Wright immediately attached herself to theater and the craft of acting. As a result, Wright was discovered by a MGM talent scout while she stepped in as an understudy in actress's Martha Scott's absence. When she brought to Hollywood, Wright was signed to a five-year contact with an unusual clause which outlined that Wright would not be photographed to assert that she wanted to be a serious actress.
“I argued that I didn't have any of the attributes to pose for cheesecake. I said I would have to make good on my acting ability, which was the only attribute I could offer.” Wright would later defend the clause.
Her very first role for MGM Studios was not just acting opposite Bette Davis but act in the role of Davis’ daughter in “The Little Foxes” (1941). Wright was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actress category for her performance. Wright would be nominated for her roles in three films during her career – “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942) was the second and third for her role in WWII drama “Mrs. Miniver”(1942), for which she would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Director Alfred Hitchcock is notoriously famous for his blonde heroines but the brunette Teresa Wright starred in Hitchcock’s thriller “Shadow Of a Doubt” (1943). Wright’s character “Young Charlie” must figure out whether her Uncle Charlie, played by Joseph Cotten, is a murderer and what could explain his strange behavior.
After “Pride of the Yankees,” Wright and Gary Cooper were teamed up again with their wonderful chemistry in the romantic comedy “Casanova Brown” (1944). Unfortunately, it was a box-office bomb. Wright also played the role of Fredric March’s daughter “Peggy Johnston” in the WW II drama, “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946).
During Wright’s career, she was able to co-star with Robert Mitchum in “Pursued” (1947) and “Track of The Cat”(1954), with Marlon Brando in “The Men” (1950) and with Joseph Cotten again in “The Steel Trap” (1952).
A good actress is not limited to one medium. In the 1950s, after acting in many cinematic successes, Wright returned to stage and television. One of her firs roles was as “Annie Sullivan” in Playhouse 90's television production of “The Miracle Worker” (1957); Wright received an Emmy nomination.
Her last on-screen performance was in the role of “Colleen Birdsong” in “The Rainmaker” (1997). Wright passed away at the age of eighty-seven. Teresa Wright’s career purpose was, “I only ever wanted to be actress not a star.” As evidenced by her versatile and successful acting biography, she fulfilled that ten-fold and was not limited by her “Girl Next Door” image.