Actress Theresa Wright (1918-2005), gained unusual clout in the early stages of her distinguished career when she insisted on a most unusual clause in her 1941 contract with Samuel Goldwyn.
Goldwyn, a talented, but hard-headed Hollywood producer, desperately wanted Wright under contract, and so he swallowed his pride and allowed Wright’s clause to stand.
But he never forgave her effrontery and ended their relationship in 1948.
Wright insisted on being normal. She was a serious actress, and a serious person. Muriel Teresa Wright knew who she was and never allowed herself to undergo a glamorous transformation like so many other young starlets—Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth—which led to stardom, but which, arguably, contributed to unhappy, unfulfilled personal lives.
In Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943) Teresa Wright plays teenager Charlie Newton, who adores her namesake, Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten), unaware that he is a serial killer of rich women. The gradual realization of uncle Charlie’s true nature is reflected in one of the actress’s most moving performances.
The height of Wright’s normalcy was in her quiet, dignified performance in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) the deeply moving film about soldiers returning from the war. Wright did not have the biggest role in the movie, but she was central because she represented normalcy, the extraordinary ordinary decency for which the men were fighting and to which they yearned to return.
The clause Wright inserted into her Goldwyn contract reads:
The aforementioned Teresa Wright shall not be required to pose for photographs in a bathing suit unless she is in the water. Neither may she be photographed on the beach with hair flying in the wind. Nor may she pose in any of the following situations: in shorts; playing with a cocker spaniel; digging in a garden; whipping up a meal; attired in firecrackers and holding sky rockets for the Fourth of July; looking insinuatingly at a turkey for Thanksgiving; wearing a bunny cap with long ears for Easter; twinkling on prop snow in a skiing outfit while a fan blows her scarf; or assuming an athletic stance while pretending to hit something with a bow and arrow.
Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a lovely and normal Shabbat.