Shirley Booth (August 30, 1898 - October 16, 1992) was an acclaimed American actress.
She was born Thelma Marjorie Ford in New York City, a daughter of Albert James Ford and Virginia Wright. Her younger sister was Jean Valentine Ford.
Booth began her career on the stage as a teenager acting in stock company productions. She debuted on Broadway in the play Hell's Bells opposite Humphrey Bogart on January 26, 1925. During the 1930s and 1940s, she achieved popularity in dramas, comedies and musicals. She acted with Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story (1939) and with Ralph Bellamy in Tomorrow the World (1943).
She also starred on the popular radio series Duffy's Tavern, portraying the light-hearted Miss Duffy on CBS Radio from 1941 to 1942 and on NBC-Blue Radio from 1942 to 1943, and won an audience of fans over the airwaves.
Booth had two husbands, actor Ed Gardner (married 1929-divorced 1942) and William Baker (married 1943-his death 1951).
Her first Tony, for Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic), was awarded for her performance as Grace Woods in Goodbye, My Fancy (1948). Her second Tony was for Best Actress in a Play, which she received for her widely acclaimed performance of the tortured wife, Lola, in the poignant drama Come Back, Little Sheba (1950). Her leading man, Sidney Blackmer, received the Tony for Best Actor in a Play for his performance of Doc.
Her enormous success in Come Back, Little Sheba was immediately followed by A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951), in which Booth played the feisty but loveable Aunt Cissy.
She then went to Hollywood and recreated her stage role in the motion picture version of Come Back, Little Sheba (1952) with Burt Lancaster playing Doc. It was her first movie.
Booth then returned to New York and played Leona Samish in Time of the Cuckoo (1952) on Broadway.
In 1953, she received the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance as Lola Delaney in the successful movie, Come Back, Little Sheba. She also received her third Tony, which was her second in the Best Actress in a Play category, for her performance in The Time of the Cuckoo.
She spent the next few years commuting between New York and Southern California. On Broadway, she scored personal successes in the musical My Beautiful Sea (1954) and the comedy The Desk Set (1955).
Booth made only four more movies, as herself in the all-star novelty Main Street to Broadway (1953), playing Mrs. Vivien Leslie in the romance/drama About Mrs. Leslie (1954), playing Dolly Gallagher Levi in the romance/comedy The Matchmaker (1958), which is the movie version of the non-musical play that Hello, Dolly! was later based on, and playing Alma Duval in the drama Hot Spell (1958).
In 1961, she began starring in the long-running TV sitcom Hazel, based on a popular comic strip about a sassy, wisecracking and domineering, yet lovable housemaid, Hazel Burke. For this role, she won two Emmys, in 1962 and 1963, and new stardom with a younger audience.
Booth was a distinguished and versatile performer, equally at home acting in theatre, radio, and on the big and small screen. She had a long and prestigious list of stage credits and made numerous appearances in TV movies and programs. She also did voice work for animated features. Her last Broadway appearance was in a revival of Hay Fever (1970).
Shirley Booth died after a brief illness at age ninety-four at her home in North Chatham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.
She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6840 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.