Actress Shelley Winters was born in 1920 to Rose Winter and Jonas Schrift, who immigrated to America from Austria in 1907 on the ship Pennsylvania. His entry paperwork gave his occupation as “Schlacter,” which is an Ashkenazi Jewish occupation name for slaughtering animals, but he learned to be a fabric cutter in St. Louis, Mo. Their older daughter, Blanche, was born in 1916.
In the late 1920s they moved to 90-38 170 St. in Jamaica and Schrift opened a haberdasher clothing store at 171-03 Jamaica Ave. A month after the stock market crash on Oct. 29, 1929, he took out $10,000 insurance on his business, which contained a value of $1,500 in merchandise, before burning the store down. He was sent to Sing-Sing in Ossining, NY, on March 20, 1931.
The women moved above a butcher shop in Brooklyn while he was away and then into a building on Caton Avenue by 1940. Shelley got modeling gigs to help the family. Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn saw her in a Broadway play and asked her whether she could do the same thing on film. She signed a contract using her mother’s maiden name Winter with an added “s.” Winters, at age 26, moved to California in 1946 for a long acting career. She won two Academy Awards for best supporting actress, first in 1959 for “The Diary of Anne Frank” and again in 1965 for “A Patch of Blue.”
Winters died at age 85 in January 2006.