Teresa Wright; (A Yankee fan!)
Teresa Wright, the high-minded ingenue who marshaled intelligence and spunk to avoid being typecast as another 1940's ''sweater girl'' and became the only actor to be nominated for Academy Awards for her first three films, died on Sunday at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She was 86.
The cause was a heart attack, her daughter, Mary-Kelly Busch, said.
Miss Wright had many parts on Broadway and once performed at a White House dinner for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but her meteoric landing in Hollywood in 1941 is the stuff of legend.
After seeing her on Broadway, Samuel Goldwyn, the legendary producer, asked her to play the role of Bette Davis's daughter in ''The Little Foxes'' in 1941. Her performance in the film moved its director, William Wyler, to tell The New York Times that she was the most promising young actress he had ever directed.
She proved his point by being nominated for an Academy Awardfor best supporting actress for the picture. The next year, she was nominated for best actress for her next role, opposite Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig's wife in ''The Pride of the Yankees,'' and won the Oscar for best supporting actress as the love interest of Greer Garson's war-bound son in ''Mrs. Miniver.''
Her work included a starring role in Wyler's ''Best Years of Our Lives,'' winner of the best-picture Oscar in 1946; playing opposite Marlon Brando in his first movie, ''The Men,'' in 1950; and creating the character of Charlie, the innocent but suspicious niece of a serial killer, in Alfred Hitchcock's harrowing ''Shadow of a Doubt'' in 1943.
After the 1950's, she drifted away from movies and worked on the stage in roles like Linda Loman opposite George C. Scott's Willy in a 1975 Broadway production of ''Death of a Salesman.'' She was nominated for three Emmy Awards for her dramatic roles on television and in 1997 appeared in a cinematic adaptation of John Grisham's ''Rainmaker.''
For all her allure as the fetching ''girl next door,'' Miss Wright fiercely fought not to be a glamour girl. She loathed pictures in bathing suits and interviews with fan magazines, and told Goldwyn as much. He assured her he was not of ''the bathing suit school of Hollywood producers,'' according to The Times in 1942, and promised to promote her more ethereal talents.
''There would be no leg art, no whispered romances for the columnists, no orchid and ermine setting for her background,'' her contract stipulated, according to The Times.
But Miss Wright's disregard for Hollywood's demands eventually caused Goldwyn to terminate her contract, in 1948. In their highly publicized exchange, he said she was lax in publicizing her pictures. She said movies had become too brazenly commercial.
''I was going to be Joan of Arc,'' she said in an interview with The New York Post in 1969, ''and all I proved was that I was an actress who would work for less money.''
For her next picture, ''The Men,'' instead of the $125,000 she had once commanded, she received $20,000, but her co-star was Marlon Brando.
Muriel Teresa Wright was born on Oct. 27, 1918, in Manhattan. She dropped her first named in her early 20's when she found another Muriel Wright was already registered with Actors' Equity.
Her parents separated soon after she was born, and her father, an insurance salesman, farmed her out to various relatives in New York and New Jersey. She did not start school until she was 8, and did not graduate from high school in Maplewood, N.J., until she was almost 20.
She was inspired to become an actress by seeing Helen Hayes in ''Victoria Regina'' on Broadway while still a student. She played leading parts in high school plays, but a teacher told her to stick with typing.
Another teacher helped her get a scholarship to the Wharf Theater in Provincetown, Mass., the summer of her junior year. That led to summer stock work, an understudy role on Broadway in ''Our Town'' and, in 1939, the part of Mary in ''Life With Father,'' based on the memoirs of Clarence Day. After seeing it, Goldwyn went backstage to hire her.
Miss Wright was married for 10 years to Niven Busch, a screenwriter and novelist. She married the playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, and they divorced in the early 1970's. Ms. Busch, Miss Wright's daughter, said the two remained close.
In addition to her daughter, who lives in Clinton, Conn., Miss Wright is survived by her son, Niven Perence Busch of Indianapolis, and two grandchildren.
In 1998, Miss Wright was asked to throw the first pitch at a Yankees game in honor of the anniversary of Lou Gehrig's famous farewell speech to fans in 1939, the climax of ''Pride of the Yankees.'' She said it was her first game. But after years of ignoring baseball, she then became a fervent fan herself, raptly following the Yankees on television and at their stadium.
''The whole thing is pure theater to me,'' she explained.