Goodbye Shirley Schrift, And Your Unforgettable Aliases

Posted on February 22, 2013


By Lauriate Roly

No one can ever measure my love for live theatre. It is unique and irreplaceable.

Aside from usually being ecstatic about the performances themselves, I seem to be heaven blessed sometimes with unexpected serendipitous experiences where I get to meet and speak with some of the performers.

I will never forget the good fortune I had to pick up a last minute cancellation for a single seat at the end of an aisle for a play in Chicago starring Shelley Winters.

Shelley Winters (center) onstage in Chicago, 1976, in the play “Kennedy’s Children.”

I was completely entranced by the play which was performed in what seemed, was the round, in that theatre. As I watched the play, a lady coming down the darkened aisle, sat directly beside me, on the step-like floor, which I thought was rather strange. Who would sit on the floor?

Every now and again she would murmur something connected with what was going on on-stage, as if she was wording the script along with the actors.

I found this odd and somewhat distracting.

After about five minutes, she bumped against me as she struggled to stand up to leave. She excused herself for her gentle clumsiness, which I politely accepted.

After a while, the same lady returned to exactly the same spot and said, “I’m back. I hope you won’t mind.”

Because we had exchanged brief niceties earlier, I simply smiled and acknowledged her return.

This time her “murmurs” became more audible, and were pointed more in my direction as if she understood I wouldn’t mind.

Within minutes, we were whispering to each other about the play.

It suddenly dawned on me as I stole a side glance at her, that my visitor was Shelley Winters herself.

The story line within the play released her from several of the scenes and she spent her off-time moments returning to sit beside me, and over several of these “breaks,” we became good friends.

She was delightful and very likeable.

She eventually was interested enough in our silent conversations to ask where I was from. She seemed genuinely surprised and told me she was going to be in my city for an up-coming movie shoot within a few months and asked if we might have the opportunity of meeting again.

She asked how she might contact me.

Well, unfortunately the movie shoot was relocated to another city and we never did get to have another meeting.

I was very saddened in January of 2006, when I read that she had died.

I was always one of her ardent admirers…and still am.

Shirley Schrift . . . a.k.a.  – Shelley Winters.

Shelley Winters in 1951.

Born in Montreal, Lauriate is bilingual; his mother a Geordie from Newcastle on Tyne, his father a French Canadian Quebecer. Lauriate has traveled widely and has lived in Europe. His involvements are primarily of a creative nature focused on Music, Graphic and Literary Arts in the communications fields of Advertising and phases of the Entertainment business through television and film production.