My first impression of Shelly Winters was in “Wild in the Streets,” which I saw in 1968, when I was 13, at the Cinema Theatre in Concord, N.C. Shelley played Daphne Flatow, the over-bearing mother of political wunderkind Max Frost, who is elected president at age 22 on a platform of “You can’t trust anyone over 30.”
Under Pres. Frost, everyone over 30 is rounded up and sent to concentration camps where they are hooked up to LSD drips. As fun as that sounds, the movie sucked and I thought Shelley was awful. Mama Flatow was loud and obnoxious — and then they gave her the acid.
In 1976, she played similar character in Paul Mazursky’s “Next Stop, Greenwich Village,” but this time with masterful nuance. This time, we felt sympathy for the over-bearing mother. That got my attention, and I started looking out for her old films. The quality of the films swings from “The Poiseden Adventure
In the 1990s, I used to see Shelley several times a week having lunch with a group of friends at the Silver Spoon in West Hollywood. She was invariably dressed as she was as the grandmother in “Roseanne” — in a baseball cap, sweats and baggie plaid shirts. She had deteriorated physically and mentally, but she was the life of the party even then — the queen of the patio of the Silver Spoon.
There was always a much younger man with her who seemed to be in charge. Gloria, the Spoon’s legendary waitress, once told me he was Shelley’s neighbor. I learned who he was on Shelley’s Wikipedia page, via WeHo News:
Just hours before the passing into spirit of her beloved Godmother and Mentor, Shelley Winters, and fulfilling Ms. Winters’ years of desire to be wed with her companion of 19 years, Gerald DeFord, Sally Kirkland blessed their union in a Spiritual (non-legal) marriage ceremony the evening of Friday, Jan. 13, 2006.
Cross posted from SunsetStript.com.