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Actress Judy Holliday was know for playing dumb but good-natured characters. She won an Academy award for best actress in the film Born Yesterday.
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Holliday auditioned for the role of Billie Dawn and learned it in three days. The play opened on Feb. 4, 1946, to rave reviews and Holliday then played Billie Dawn for three years. Garson Kanin remembers her as a "tremendously rare combination of intellect and instinct. And a girl of principle, and of deep social feeling." In 1948 the screen rights to Born Yesterday were purchased by Columbia Pictures. As a movie,
Born Yesterday (1950) brought Holliday an Academy Award for best actress. Gloria Swanson, a nominee for the Oscar for her performance that year in Sunset Boulevard, congratulated Holliday saying, "My dear, couldn't you have waited? You have so much ahead of you—so many years. This was my only chance."
Holliday's other screen credits included The Marrying Kind (1952), about a blue-collar couple facing divorce. The remaining films for Columbia were all tailor-made for the roles she played best. George Morris commented that she could "switch from comedy to tragedy with a mere inflection in her voice: a mixture of dumb blonde, naivete, New York savvy was her strongest instrument."
television for ten years. She was still able to star in films, such as It Should Happen to You (1954), Phffft (1954), The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956), in which she played a shrewd, inexperienced businesswoman, and Full of Life (1957). In 1956 she starred on Broadway as Ella Peterson in Bells Are Ringing and received an Antoinette Perry Award for her performance. She recreated the role four years later in the film version.
In 1960, during the pre-Broadway tryout of Laurette, in which she played her first dramatic role, Holliday developed a voice problem that prevented her from projecting her voice beyond the first few rows of the theater. The show was forced to close, and the problem was subsequently diagnosed as cancer. Holliday was unable to perform again, with the exception of a brief run in the musical Hot Spot (1963). At that time, she was involved in an intense relationship with jazz saxophonist Gerry Mulligan.
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