Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Everything's luck

From a marvellous article in The New York Times back in 1983:
On the brink of her 100th birthday, Estelle Winwood tipples Gallo cream sherry, plays bridge three times a week and smokes three packs of cigarettes a day.

Wearing metallic brown brocade and a huge triangular hat, gold bracelets on both arms and black patent-leather pumps, and looking like a cross between a medieval queen and a carving of an ancient Egyptian princess, the fey and deft character actress of more than 40 Broadway plays and a score of movies sits on her sofa at noon sipping her drink.

Most noons she is still asleep in her four-poster bed. The habits of a lifetime in the theatre are not easily broken. She eats breakfast at 12:30pm, reads in bed until 3 - she is currently halfway through Kenneth Tynan's Show People - and then begins telephoning for a bridge game or an escort to take her out to dinner, perhaps to Ma Maison, the trendy French bistro across the hills from her white stucco San Fernando Valley home. She goes out most nights. If she is forced to dine at home, she is likely to be so angry that she will smoke a pack of cigarettes in place of eating dinner...

..."I've always looked on 100 as something for my great-great-grandmother in England. Coming to me it's like a punishment. Who wants to be 100?"

"Isn't it better than the alternative?"

"I wouldn't mind being dead,"
she says. "It would be something new."

Miss Winwood lives relentlessly in the present: " I've never taken life seriously about being an actress," she says. "I haven't any advice. Everything's luck. If you lose, you have to leave acting; if you win, you make a fortune.

"I don't think about careers. I think about how many people are coming to tea."
What a woman! There's hope for us all...

Estelle Winwood (born Estelle Ruth Goodwin, 24th January 1883 – 20th June 1984)


  1. in "the producers" 1968 version, she was the first little old lady zero mostel shook down for money. "let's play the countess and the chauffeur"!

    1. "Oh, Countess, I can't take my eyes off you! How can I drive when you drive me mad? Mad!"


  2. I think I need to take up some of her habits. I'm sure it would make me feel better!

    1. She seems to have thrived entirely on booze, fags and bridge... And lipstick!

      The living room crackles with one-liners from Miss Winwood's brightly painted lips. (In 1919, three years after her Broadway debut, she defiantly chose to wear lipstick off the stage as well as on, an action that dismayed the society of the day.)

      Something worked... Jx

  3. I remember someone noting that Ms. Winwood was known as the oldest working actress in Hollywood when on the set of 'The Misfits' (as the lady looking for donations) and that was 1961! Imagine she lived to over 100!!

    1. Miss Winwood's last role was apparently in an episode of Quincy when she was 97 - but even she had some way to go to match a certain Miss Connie Sawyer, who is still with us at 104 years of age, and appeared on American TV screens in something called Ray Donovan only two years ago! Remarkable. Jx


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