The actress sustained her long career by repeatedly reinventing herself. Starting as a nightclub chorus girl, advanced to supporting roles in New York plays, then became famous as a Hollywood sexpot.
A devotee of the Actors Studio, she switched to serious roles as she matured. Her Oscars were for her portrayal of mothers. Still working well into her 70s, she had a recurring role as Roseanne's grandmother on the 1990s TV show "Roseanne."
Although she was in demand as a character actress, Winters continued to study her craft. She attended Charles Laughton's Shakespeare classes and worked at the Actors Studio, both as student and teacher. She appeared on Broadway as the distraught wife of a drug addict in "A Hatful of Rain" and as the Marx Brothers' mother in "Minnie's Boys."
Among her other notable films: "Night of the Hunter," "Executive Suite," "I Am a Camera," "The Big Knife," "Odds Against Tomorrow," "The Young Savages," "Lolita," "The Chapman Report," "The Greatest Story Ever Told," "A House Is Not a Home," "Alfie," "Harper," "Pete's Dragon," "Stepping Out" and "Over the Brooklyn Bridge."
During her 50 years as a widely known personality, Winters was rarely out of the news. Her stormy marriages, her romances with famous stars, her forays into politics and feminist causes kept her name before the public. She delighted in giving provocative interviews and seemed to have an opinion on everything.
Robert Mitchum once told her: "Shelley, arguing with you is like trying to hold a conversation with a swarm of bumblebees."
The revelations in her autobiographies provided endless material for interviewers and gossip writers. She wrote of an enchanted evening when she and Burt Lancaster attended "South Pacific" in New York, dined elegantly, then retired to his hotel room.
"This chance meeting proved to be the beginning of a long but painful romance," she wrote. "Despite the immediate and powerful chemistry between us, the love and the friendship, some wise part of me knew that he would never abandon his children while they were young and needed him."
She also told of a dalliance with William Holden after a studio Christmas party. In a glamorous, real-life version of the play "Same Time, Next Year," they continued their annual Yuletide rendezvous for seven years.
She wrote that despite their intimacy, they continued to refer to each other as "Mr. Holden" and "Miss Winters," and when they met on the set of the 1981 film "S.O.B." she said, "Hello, Mr. Holden." He smiled and replied, "Shelley, after your book, I think you should call me Bill."