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New Starlet Doesn't Mind One Brickbat; It Helps to Prove She Is Not Dreaming

Teresa Wright Is Surprise Hit In "Little Foxes."

By Gladwin Hill

The Indianapolis Sunday Star  September 21, 1941 page V 2

New York, Sept. 20.

A small, winsome, dark-haired girl slipped shyly into a back seat 15 or 20 stories up in the Radio City music hall the other night.

The picture was "The Little Foxes," with Bette Davis and the new actress discovery, Teresa Wright.

The shy dark-haired girl watched the picture through with interest. When "the end" flashed on the screen, two well-upholstered women beside her got up.

"Hmmmm," said one. "That's a funny ending . . ."

"Well!" Welled the other one, appraising the new discovery, "I didn't think much of her."

The dark-haired girl, whose name (Surprise! Surprise!) was Teresa Wright, cringed a bit as she slipped out, but then she smiled.

She Asked for It.

"People had wanted to take me," she says, "but I wanted to sneak in alone and hear the reaction -- I asked for it."

She had other reasons to smile. The fat lady can have her opinion, but nearly everyone else thinks Teresa did a marvelous job as Bette Davis' daughter, in a family of hateful, avaricious neo-carpetbaggers. People have even said she "stole" the picture.

Also, if the fat lady had raved about her, it would have been too pat. Her jarring remark was a reassuring indication that Teresa was really alive, awake and not dreaming. For everything that had happened to her up to then was almost too good to be true.

Teresa, the blossoming actress of 22, never even saw a play until six years ago. The daughter of an insurance man, a widower, she lived out in Maplewood, N.J., and it was difficult getting to New York and difficult paying Broadway box-office prices.

Inspired By Hayes.

Then, in 1935, Teresa saw Helen Hayes in "Victoria Regina" and had the thrill of going backstage and shaking hands with the star. Even today, when Teresa speaks of Miss Hayes, misty adoration fills her eyes.

With that inspiration, she was no time at all in getting up a good head of theatrical steam, For two summers she toiled at the Wharf Theater in Provincetown, Mass., and in the fall of 1939 understudies Dorothy McGuire in "Own Town" and played the part on the road.

The next year she summer-theatered again at Tamworth, N.H., that fall landed in the hit "Life With Father," and bang! Was signed up by Sam Goldwyn for movies.

She got several contract offers, but didn't want to go to Hollywood and just be a "sweater girl" so she held out for a bonafide acting contract.

She Was Timid.

I talked with Teresa before she went to the coast last April. She was a pretty timid, uncertain little girl. When I asked her who her boy friend was, she blushed not realizing apparently, that nearly every girl has a boy friend. (It turned out he was a young New York actor.)

She didn't know what kind of clothes she was going to need out in Hollywood, where she was going to live, or what it would be like acting in front of cameras.

Well, she got along fine. She rented a furnished apartment near the studio, liked acting before the cameras -- "Miss Davis was so nice to me -- everybody was nice" -- and spent all her time working, eating and sleeping. "I don't see how anybody working in pictures has time to go to Ciro's," she says.

When she landed back in New York a few weeks ago she declined the fancy limousine the movie people had at the airport and drove back to town with her boy friend in his battered jalopy. This was not a publicity stunt; the press agent who hired the limousine came in tearing his toupee over the switch.

Since "The Little Foxes" clicked, Teresa has been mentioned for half a dozen parts, among them Mrs. Lou Gehrig in Goldwyn's biography of the famous ballplayer.

Meanwhile she's rehearsing for Ferene [sic] Molnar's new play, "All the King's Men" -- her contract with Goldwyn stipulates that she can get back to Broadway for one play a year -- and worrying about getting a piano into her little apartment down in Greenwich village.

She's just as sweet as before she went to Hollywood, and just as earnest about being a good actress. She blushes when anyone says anything about her "stealing" the picture, and oooh's insouciantly:

"That's not true! . . ."

With a lot of theatrical people that would be assembly-line modesty. But with Teresa, you know it's sincere.

© 1941 The Indianapolis Sunday Star

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