Irene Winston was a very rounded actress that appeared in everything a 1950s could – movies, TV, radio, theater. She literary did it all, and was more or less successful in most of the fields mentioned. Sadly, her movie career was pretty thin and except from Hitchcock aficionados, she is rarely mentioned today. But yes, she appeared in Rear Window and probably will never be completely forgotten due to this fact. Let’s learn more about her!
Mable Irene Winston was born on July 18, 1916 in New York City, New York. She was a Brooklyn girl, born and bred, and attended elementary and high school there.
After high school graduation, Irene entered New York University with the idea of becoming a doctor. After a year or premedical studying, however, she was presented with an unexpected chance to try out In a play. She snapped it up, and when she was finished went back to school, only to find that she had missed her year-end exams. Also, the role in a stock company production changed her mind and her ambition.
Rather than repeat the year of pre-med work, Irene decided she d be come an actress. She then appeared on the stage to “Tovarich , “Boy Meets Girl” and “Having a Wonderful Time, and four years ago made her radio debut. Later she admitted that she didn’t get far into the mysteries of medicine. “Just six months of pre-medics, I think I really started it as a shield to my real ambition. I was afraid if I told people I wanted to be an actress, they would not understand.”
She started to divide her tint between the theater and the Chicago studios of NBC, plus a career in radio. And this is how her acting career started!
Irene appeared in one of my all ti favorite movies, Gone to Earth (IMDB mentions the English cut, not the Sleznick US one, this is important to note!). I generally love the director, Michael Powell, plus Jennifer Jones, another one of my favorites, and David Farrar, such a yummy, sexy guy! All of this aside, the movie is a minor classic, visually stunning, with incredible cinematography and a multi-layered story with some profoundly moving themes and deep philosophical discussions! Irene plays Jennifer’s mother in a very small role, but just being apart of this piece of magic is more than enough.
Dear Brat is a okay young adult movie with the formulaic plot of (taken from an IMDB review): “a teenager who decides to rehabilitate a criminal by hiring him to work at her father’s home. Her father was the judge that sentenced him.” Seeing a young Natalie Wood on the screen is perhaps the movie’s only claim to fame today. Mona Freeman sadly got stuck playing these kind of brats for a portion of her career, too bad for her since she had some talent that just wasn’t properly used.
My Son John is a weird, outdated movie about the the Red Scare in the 1950s, but on a more intimate level – family. Robert Walker (that unique actor that truly was, for a man, fairest of the fair, an unappreciated waif, never to be repeated afterwards) plays the black sheep of a picture perfect Mid Western American family, returning home after changing his outlook life. He is… horror of horrors, a Communist now! Yep, that’s the worst they could pin on a guy. In a world where there are so many worst offences, this is what they find as the biggest one… For a conservative 1950s American that is. The cast is actually solid – Walker, Helen Hayes, Dean Jagger… But the story is so simplistic and borderline that it’s almost obsolete do watch it today.
Carrie is another Jennifer Jones movie, and serious drama. Based on Theodore Dreiser’s novel, it deals with some serious issued like a woman’s place in society, sexual obsession and the price of breaking societal norms. Jennie is as good as always, and Laurence Olivier is tops against her (I have yet to see Larry give a bad role – he appeared in some dismal movies, but he’s always in top form, the perfect consummate actor). Interesting to see Miriam Hopkins in one of her more mature roles, she’s also a class act although she did her share of below average movies.
Rear Window is Irene’s claim to fame! What needs to be said about this absolute classic? Just go and watch it! After some TV work came The Delicate Delinquent, a typical Jerry Lewis movie. What can I say, I don’t especially like Jerry Lewis and find his brand of humor not really interesting or my cup of tea, so I’ll say a definite skip, but to each his own! Here Lewis plays a bumbling janitor who befriends a juvenile delinquent and helps him become a straight laced citizen. Predictable.
And that’s it from Irene!
Here are some bits and pieces about Irene:
Irene said: “Still learning wanted to be an actress, they’d look at me and say: ‘You?’ ” Her hope is to get through stage training; to do “something worth while” behind the footlights, and then think of the films. Dramatic parts are what she likes best. She’d like to sing, too, but “I always find myself losing the key.” For the rest: she’s not married, nor engaged; doesn’t care much for outdoor sports; delights in travel end reading plays; enjoys being on the road and hopes to put on four more pounds.”
Irene was also quiet passionate about the art of acting and seemed ready to go that extra mile for thespian brilliance. Another article:
She’s been on the stage about three and a half years, and on the radio about the same length of time. She says she still has much to learn. And she has a quaint notion that the best way to do this is to put all there is in every part, even if it isn’t the lead. For example, she enrolled in a beauty school in New York, just because she wanted to be sure she’d wield her file like a real manicurist.
Irene had two favorite pastimes — surf bathing and bowling. Her Christmas favorite was Cranberry Maple Syrup Pie and she even shared her recipe for making it with the papers. She also shared some tricks for swollen feet:
Irene Winston, pretty dancer, uses this bubbly type of footbath every night. After the soaking she rinses her feet in cool water, dries them very thoroughly and massages with scented alcohol. Then she dusts on her foot powder as the finishing touch to make her feet happy. They are pretty, too, for she keeps the nails tinted and the cuticle around them well oiled. Ordinary foot weariness will vanish after such treatment, but when long hours in tight shoes have made feet swollen and tender, the old standby, the contrast footbath with a basin of very hot water and one of cold water, is more effective than soaking for restoring normal circulation. The dips in the cold water should be very brief. The massage following this foot bathing should be done with feet elevated while you Rotate each toe, knead the sole and Instep, stroke down from toe to ankle. After ten minutes of this, rest with feet elevated on a high pillow.
And here are some more tips for feet care:
Are you tired of hot weather, are yon having trouble with tired, burning feet? Much of this, of course, is due to shoes that don’t fit. Be careful about electing open sandals that give no support, or wearing comfortable shoes which are really oat of shape and worn down at the heels. You’ll want your feet to he as well groomed as your hands, now that you spend so much time at the beach, so take these few tips from Irene Winston of Columbia networks When a Girl Marries series. Clip nails straight across and smooth with an emery board. Rub each nail separately with a semi-stiff brush, then push back cuticle with an orange stick dip-pod in oily cuticle remover, rinse and dry thoroughly. Separate toes with wads of cotton and apply polish. When dry, massage with skin lotion and pat on a bit of cologne. Doesn’t that make you feel better?
By 1940, Irene was living in a boarding house in Manhattan, New York and was active in the dating world. Irene Winston and Victor Christian, who played opposite her in “Brooklyn, U. S. A.,” were an item for some time, but larger dangers were looming over Irene.
It seems that Irene was a sickly and accident prone person who ended up in the hospital with some frequency. For instance, she fell and was injured as she alighted from a cab at the studios. At some point, she became very, very ill at Manhattan General, and literary almost died. Luckily, she was reported mending again after nearly kicking the well-known bucket.
Irene then dated Ham Fisher, Joe Palooka‘s creator, but it seems that Ham carried a torch for his ex-wife and the relationship went nowhere. Not long after, Walter Coy, of the “Hamlet” cast, was reportedly engaged to Irene, and they planned for wed when his divorce from Ann Burr was made final. Walter and Anne truly did get divorced in 1950, but Walter and Irene did not get married.
Naturally, she relocated to Hollywood for a brief time to appear in movies. During her Hollywood sojourn, Irene met and fell in love with John Shelton, previously married to Kathryn Grayson. They married on September 11, 1948. Shelton flew to Las Vegas from Oklahoma, met his bride there on her arrival by plane from New York. They lived in Hollywood, but the marriage was rather short lived. Shelton was born Edward Price Shepperd in 1915 in Los Angeles, to Edward Price and Madge Shepperd. He was a actor and singer.
They separated in 1949, and started divorce proceedings in June 1951. Irene accused Shelton of deserting her a year after their marriage, asking for $300 ‘a month alimony in a superior court suit filed yesterday. Finally, by late 1953, they were divorced. However, they stilled work on stories together for some time afterwards. The dropped that in the end, and Shelton died under mysterious circumstances in Sri Lanka in the 1972.
Irene wasted no time in finding new beaus. She and Henry Hull Jr. dated while they were appearing in the theater show “Having Wonderful Time”. After the broke up, she consoled herself by dating Chester Stratton for a few months. Here is another fun bit about Irene:
Walter Piiranty, the war cor-respondent, Irene Winston, the actress, and George Jean Nathan, the actor, were playing The Word Game when Duranty called “re-vng”. . .”In what sense,” inquired Mr. Nathan, “do you mean it?” “In the sense.” said . Duranty, “of doing something to someone because he or she did “Something to you. .Getting even.” “Sweet!” called out Irene, who is just divorced. “Marriage!” echoed Nathan, who is still an old maid.
Irene then dated actor Harry Lewis before more or less completely disappearing from the newspaper circuit. What we do know is that Irene lived in jointly in New York and California for the rest of her life. She traveled extensively, visiting Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Brazil and so on.
Irene Winston died on September 1, 1964, in Hollywood, California, from pneumonia.