Oscar Actors: Lorring, Joan–Background, Career, Awards (Cum Advantage, Donaldson, Early Tony)

Research in Progress: Sep 26, 2021
Joan Lorring Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class: middle

Race/Ethnicity/Religion: father, Jewish immigrant




Teacher/Inspirational Figure:

Radio Debut: child actress, radio program A Date With Judy, 1942; aged 16

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut: Come Back Little Sheba, 1950; aged 24

Film Debut: Song of Russia, 1944; aged 18

Breakthrough Role:

Gap between Debut and First Nom: 1 year

Oscar Role:

Other Noms: Corn Is Green, 1945; aged 19

Other Awards: Donaldson (early version of Tony)

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image:

Last Film:

Career Output: less than a dozen

Film Career Span: 1944-1952; then comeback

Marriage: scientist-professor

Politics: NA

Death: in 2014; aged 88 (natural causes)

Joan Lorring (born Madeline Ellis; April 17, 1926–May 30, 2014) was an American actress and singer known for her work in film and theatre.

For her role as Bessy Watty in The Corn Is Green (1945), Lorring was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

Lorring also originated the role of Marie Buckholder in Come Back, Little Sheba on Broadway in 1950, for which she won a Donaldson Award (early version of the Tony Award).

Lorring was born in Hong Kong, the daughter of Anya Ellis (1904–1994), a Jewish immigrant. They fled Hong Kong in 1937 following the Japanese invasion in 1937 at the start of World War II, traveling by boat to Honolulu, and then landing in San Francisco.

Soon after, they moved to Los Angeles and Madeleine (known by her nickname “Dellie”) began working as a child actress in radio and film – she was credited as “Dellie Ellis” when she played the title role in the radio program A Date With Judy (1942).

She eventually adopted Joan Lorring as her stage name.

She was married to cancer researcher and Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry at Cornell Medical School, and Chief of Endocrinology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Martin Sonenberg (1920–2011). The couple had two daughters, Santha and Andrea.

Lorring began her career as a child actress on the radio. Her performances include Alma Horrell in the Suspense episode “The Great Horrell” aired on August 22, 1946, and “The Farmer Takes a Wife.”

Lorring made her Broadway debut in 1950, originating the role of Marie Buckholder opposite Shirley Booth in Come Back Little Sheba. Terry Moore later played Marie in the 1952 film version.

For this role, Lorring won Donaldson Award for Most Outstanding Female Debut in the 1949–1950 Broadway season.

This success led to her performing in the 1951 Broadway production of the Lillian Hellman play The Autumn Garden. In 1954, she performed in the play Dead Pidgeons, and her last Broadway appearance was in 1957, originating the role of The Young Woman, opposite Kim Stanley as The Woman, in A Clearing in the Woods by Arthur Laurents.

In 1970, Lorring performed in an Off-Broadway production of Awake and Sing! as Bessie Berger.

Lorring made her film debut at age 18 in Song of Russia (1944).

Her second film was the Oscar-nominated drama, The Bridge of San Luis Rey.

For her third film role as Bessy Watty in 1945’s The Corn Is Green opposite Bette Davis as Miss Moffat, Lorring (at age 19) was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress. Thelma Schnee had originated the role of Bessy on Broadway opposite Ethel Barrymore in 1940.

Lorring next had supporting roles in the 1946 dramas Three Strangers and The Verdict, in which she plays Lottie Rawson and performs the song “Give Me a Little Bit”.

In 1947, she appeared in The Other Love, a drama that stars Barbara Stanwyck, and in The Lost Moment which stars Susan Hayward. In 1948, she played a supporting role in Good Sam, which stars Gary Cooper and was directed by Leo McCarey.

In the early 1950s, Lorring began appearing often on television.

In 1955, she performed in 13 episodes of the television series Norby as Helen Norby. The show lasted one season. Also in 1956, she reprised her award-winning role as Bessy in The Corn is Green on television opposite Eva Le Gallienne as Miss Moffat.

She appeared on one episode of A. Hitchcock Presents, (The Older Sister, 1956) about Lizzie Borden, in which she played her sister Emma.

Lorring performed infrequently in the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on her family life.

Her last film role came in 1974 with The Midnight Man.

Her later television roles were guest-starring for several episodes as Anna Pavel in Ryan’s Hope and a 1980 episode of The Love Boat.

Lorring enjoyed retirement through the 1980s and 1990s. She ldied May 30, 2014, in Sleepy Hollow, New York at age 88 from natural causes.

Lorring was not included in the In-Memoriam segment at the 87th Oscars Awards.


1944 Song of Russia Sonia
The Bridge of San Luis Rey Pepita

1945 The Corn Is Green Bessie Watty Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress

1946 Three Strangers Icey Crane
The Verdict Lottie Rawson

1947 The Other Love Celestine Miller
The Lost Moment Amelia
The Gangster Dorothy

1948 Good Sam Shirley Mae

1951 The Big Night Marion Rostina

1952 Imbarco a mezzanotte Angela (Stranger on the Prowl)

1974 The Midnight Man Judy


1950–1956 Robert Montgomery Presents 5 episodes

1952 The Philco Television Playhouse Episode: The Thin Air
The Doctor Episode: No Story Assignment
1954 The Motorola Television Hour Episode: A Dash of Bitters
Love Story Episode: For All We Know
Danger Episode: The Big Man
Suspense Episode: The Last Stand
Center Stage Terry Clayborn Episode: The Day Before Atlanta
1953, 1955 Goodyear Television Playhouse Episode: The Rumor
Episode: The Prizewinner
1954–1955 Valiant Lady Bonnie Withers #1
Westinghouse Studio One Blair
Terry Episode: Castle in Spain
Episode: Millions of Georges

1955 Norby Helen Norby
The Elgin Hour Maggie Episode: Black Eagle Pass
Kraft Television Theatre Episode: Coquette
Appointment with Adventure Episode: Return of the Stranger

1956 Star Stage Episode: Of Missing Persons
Hitchcock Presents Emma Borden Episode: The Older Sister
General Electric Theater Episode: The Shunning
1965 The Nurses Jean Bower Episode: Act of Violence
For the People Jean Bow Episode: Act of Violence
1966 The Star Wagon Martha PBS TV-Movie

1979–1980 Ryan’s Hope Anna Pavel

1980 The Love Boat Mrs. Cummings Episode: Tell Her She’s Great…, (final appearance)