Never even nominated for her fizzy roles as Fred Astaire’s dancing partner, Ginger Rogers was the surprise win in the sudsy chick flick Kitty Foyle. Joan Fontaine lost for her leading role in the year’s Best Picture winner, Rebecca, while Katharine Hepburn lost her third Oscar bid, despite her marvelous turn in The Philadelphia Story. Martha Scott lost as Emily in the film version of Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, along with Bette Davis in the plantation-era period piece The Letter. Someone should have slapped Oscar on his little bare little backside for failing to nominate Rosalind Russell’s saucy reporter in His Girl Friday, one of the best screwball comedies ever to hit the screen.
Oscar continued to snub Alfred Hitchcock, but Joan Fontaine won for starring in his film Suspicion as a new bride who suspects her husband is trying to kill her. She beat her sister, Olivia de Havilland, in the little-remembered Hold Back the Dust and Greer Garson as an orphanage director in Blossoms in the Dust. Bette Davis was more deserving as a manipulative Southern vixen in The Little Foxes as was Barbara Stanwyck for her terrific role as a dancer and mob moll in Ball of Fire. Stanwyck’s great performance in The Lady Eve the same year was not nominated, and Mary Astor should have given them all a run for their money as the femme fatale in the great film noir The Maltese Falcon, a spectacular film Oscar overlooked in every category.
In the midst of World War II, Greer Garson’s star turn as a brave British housewife was one of five big nominations for Mrs. Miniver, and her only win out of seven career nominations, five of them consecutive. Patriotism helped Garson win over Bette Davis’ exceptional performance as an isolated spinster in Now, Voyager; Teresa Wright as Lou Gehrig’s wife in The Pride of the Yankees; Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year; and Rosalind Russell in My Sister Eileen (the first of her four failed nominations.) Snubbed were Carole Lombard in To Be or Not to Be; Veronica Lake in the unjustly ignored Sullivan’s Travels; and Jean Arthur in another great film Oscar bypassed in 1942, The Talk of the Town.
Ingrid Bergman was fine as the wife going slowly mad in Gaslight, but it still felt like a do-over for the Academy’s omission of her work in 1943’s Casablanca. I preferred Barbara Stanwyck’s femme fatale in the Billy Wilder’s uber-noir Double Indemnity, and Bette Davis’ nasty New York society belle in Mr. Skeffington. Greer Garson was back again in the soapy epic Mrs. Parkington. Oscar’s inexplicable omissions this year included Lauren Bacall’s sizzling debut at age 19 in To Have and Have Not, Gene Tierney as the haunting heroine of Laura, and Judy Garland in the charming musical Meet Me in St. Louis.
7. 1946 Best Actress – Olivia de Havilland in ‘To Each His Own’
8. 1947 Best Actress – Loretta Young in ‘The Farmer’s Daughter’
In what many see as her finest role, Loretta Young shone in a romantic comedy with a political message, The Farmer’s Daughter. She bested the favored Rosalind Russell in Mourning Becomes Electra, a critically lauded but commercially unsuccessful film of Eugene O’Neill’s stage play, and Dorothy MacGuire, who played Gregory Peck’s prejudiced fiance in the year’s Best Picture, Gentleman’s Agreement. Susan Hayward lost for her portrayal of an alcoholic in Smash Up - The Story of a Woman, as well as Joan Crawford as a homicidal factory worker in Possessed. Overlooked were Gene Tierney as a lovely widow in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Deborah Kerr as a nun in Black Narcissus.
In a year of powerhouse performances by great actresses, Jane Wyman won without saying a word for her portrayal of a deaf-mute victim of rape in Johnny Belinda. The wonderful actress Irene Dunne lost the last of her five career nominations for her role as the matriarch in the immigrant story I Remember Mama, as did Olivia de Havilland's performance as a woman wrongly committed to an insane asylum in The Snake Pit and Barbara Stanwyck's fretful, neurotic housewife confined to her bed in Sorry, Wrong Number. Ingrid Bergman was nominated but lost for her role as the French heroine in an unsuccessful version of Joan of Arc