Thelma Oliver

Biography by

Thelma Oliver was a Broadway supporting player who appeared in hit shows continually through the 60's. The most well known song she was associated with was "Hey Big Spender" from Sweet Charity, and the…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Thelma Oliver was a Broadway supporting player who appeared in hit shows continually through the 60's. The most well known song she was associated with was "Hey Big Spender" from Sweet Charity, and the scene in which she, co-star Helen Gallagher and the Fandango Girls line up along a railing and attempt to entice customers with the song was generally considered one of the hit show's big moments. This may have been Oliver's artistic triumph, but a few moments of film brought her much more notoriety in 1965, when she appeared in a controversial nude scene in The Pawnbroker. The same film brought Rod Steiger an Oscar for best actor, but he was not asked to bare his breasts. This was Oliver's job, and it was considered to be the first such baring of women's breasts in a non-exploitation film in modern times, and as such was a clear violation of the then still enforced Hays Code barring casual and potentially provocative nudity. It is hard to say if Oliver sought out such battles or had a raunchy side of her personality, but she apparently did not balk at recording a 1964 "party" album for producer Joe Davis under the pseudonym of Judy Andraws, a poke at the then current queen of Broadway, Julie Andrews, who would also later bare her breasts on screen, but only when her husband director Blake Edwards asked her to. Davis also underwent an obscenity bust, although it was song titles, and not the work of Oliver, that brought the heat in this case.