Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teresa Wright and "The Pride of the Yankees"

The 1942 film, The Pride of the Yankees, portrayed the life of legendary first baseman Lou Gehrig (played in the film by Gary Cooper). Released less than two years after his death, this film made a fantastic impact on the public, in whose memory Gehrig's sad farewell at Yankee Stadium was still fresh. Many of Gehrig's Yankee teammates, including Babe Ruth and Bill Dickey, appeared as themselves.

Cast as Eleanor Gehrig was 24-year-old ingenue Teresa Wright, who was nominated for the best-actress Academy Award for her performance. For the film, she got to wear the actual bracelet that Lou had given his wife for their fourth anniversary. The real Mrs. Gehrig brought the bracelet to the set to be used in the film, letting it be stored in the Studio vault at night. It is made from the medals commemorating the World Championships and All-Star Games that Lou Gehrig appeared in. The bracelet is now on display in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

Here is a clip from the film showing the real bracelet.

In 1998, at the age of 80, Teresa Wright was invited to throw the first ceremonial ball at the Fourth of July celebration of Gehrig's farewell speech in 1939. Confessing that she had never thrown a ball or been to a ballgame in her life, she accepted the invitation (although she did practice throwing a ball in her garage with her grandson before leaving for the stadium). She was given a World Series jacket and hat, and when she went to the mound the crowd applauded her pitching. From that day on, she was hooked on baseball, now fully appreciating what Lou Gehrig meant to the Yankees.

In honor of her performance in The Pride of the Yankees, when she died in 2005, her name was included with the ballplayers when the roll call of Yankees who had passed away was read.

(Click thumbnails to see larger photos.)
For more high quality photos of Teresa Wright and The Pride of the Yankees, click here to go to Dr. Macro's High Res Scans.