Greer Garson: Wikis


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Greer Garson

from the trailer of That Forsyte Woman (1949)
Born Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson
29 September 1904(1904-09-29)
Essex, England, UK
Died 6 April 1996 (aged 91)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1937–1982
Spouse(s) Edward Alec Abbot Snelson (1933–1940)
Richard Ney (1943–1947)
E. E. "Buddy" Fogelson (1949–1987) (his death)

Greer Garson, CBE (29 September 1904 – 6 April 1996) was a British-born actress who was very popular during World War II. As one of MGM's major stars of the 1940s, Garson received seven Academy Award nominations, winning the Best Actress award for Mrs. Miniver (1942). She was often cast in films with Walter Pidgeon as her co-star.


Early life

Greer Garson was born Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson in Manor Park, Essex (now Greater London), England in 1904. She was the only child of George Garson (1865–1906), a clerk born in London, but with Scottish lineage, and his Irish wife, Nancy ("Nina") Sophia Greer (d. 1958). Her maternal grandfather was David Greer, a RIC sergeant in Castlewellan, Co Down, Ireland in the 1880s and who later became a land steward to the Annesleys' wealthy landlords, who built the town of Castlewellan. He lived in a large detached house built on the lower part of what was known as Pig Street or known locally as the Back Way near Shilliday’s builder’s yard. The house was called ‘Claremount’ and today the street is named Claremount Avenue. It was often reported that Garson was born in this house. She was, in fact born in London, but spent many of her childhood in Castlewellan.

She was educated at King's College London, where she earned degrees in French and 18th century literature, and at the University of Grenoble in France [1]. She had intended to become a teacher, but instead began working with an advertising agency, and appeared in local theatrical productions.


Garson in Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Greer Garson's early professional appearances were on stage, starting at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in January 1932. She appeared on television during its earliest years (the late 1930s), most notably starring in a thirty-minute production of an excerpt of Twelfth Night in May 1937, with Dorothy Black. These live transmissions were part of the BBC's experimental service from Alexandra Palace and this is the first known instance of a Shakespeare play performed on television.[2]

Louis B. Mayer discovered Garson while he was in London looking for new talent. Garson was signed to a contract with MGM in late 1937, but did not begin work on her first film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, until late 1938. She received her first Oscar nomination for the role, but lost to Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind. She received critical acclaim the next year for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in the 1940 film, Pride and Prejudice.[3]

Garson starred with Joan Crawford in When Ladies Meet in 1941, and that same year became a major box office star with the sentimental Technicolor drama Blossoms in the Dust, which brought her the first of five consecutive Best Actress Oscar nominations, tying Bette Davis' 1938-1942 record, a record that still stands.[4] Garson won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1942 for her role as a strong British wife and mother in the middle of World War II in Mrs. Miniver. (Guinness Book of World Records credits her with the longest Oscar acceptance speech, at five minutes and 30 seconds,[5] after which the Academy Awards instituted a time limit.) She was also nominated for Madame Curie (1943), Mrs. Parkington (1944), and The Valley of Decision (1945).

Garson and co-star Walter Pidgeon in Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Garson was partnered with Clark Gable, after his return from war service, in Adventure (1945). The film was advertised with the catch-phrase "Gable's back and Garson's got him!"[6] Gable argued for "He put the Arson in Garson"; she countered "She Put the Able in Gable!"; thereafter, the safer catchphrase was selected. Garson's popularity dropped somewhat in the late 1940s, but she remained a prominent film star until the mid-1950s, as she was known for her gorgeous red hair.

In 1951, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States.[7] She made only a few films after her MGM contract expired in 1954. In 1958, she received a warm reception on Broadway in Auntie Mame, replacing Rosalind Russell, who had gone to Hollywood to make the film version. In 1960, Garson received her seventh and final Oscar nomination for Sunrise at Campobello, in which she played Eleanor Roosevelt, this time losing to Elizabeth Taylor for Butterfield 8.

Garson's last film, in 1967, was Disney's The Happiest Millionaire, although she made infrequent television appearances. In 1968, she narrated the children's television special The Little Drummer Boy, which went on to become a classic children's Christmas television program which was broadcast annually for many years.

Personal life

Garson was married three times. Her first marriage, on 28 September 1933, was to Edward Alec Abbot Snelson (1904–1992), later Sir Edward, a British civil servant who became a noted judge and expert in Indian and Pakistani affairs. The actual marriage reportedly lasted only a few weeks, but was not formally dissolved until 1943.

Her second husband, whom she married (at age 39) in 1943, was Richard Ney (1915–2004), the younger actor (28 years old) who played her son in Mrs. Miniver. They divorced in 1947, with Garson claiming that Ney called her a "has-been" and belittled her age, as well as testimony from Garson that he also physically abused her. Ney eventually became a respected stock-market analyst and financial consultant.

That same year, she married a millionaire Texas oilman and horse breeder, E. E. "Buddy" Fogelson (1900–1987), and in 1967, the couple retired to their "Forked Lightning Ranch" in New Mexico. They purchased the U.S. Hall of Fame champion Thoroughbred Ack Ack from the estate of Harry F. Guggenheim in 1971, and were highly successful as breeders. They also maintained a home in Dallas, Texas, where Garson funded the Greer Garson Theater facility at Southern Methodist University.

Garson donated millions for the construction of the Greer Garson Theater at the College of Santa Fe and The Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University on three conditions: 1) that the stage be circular, 2) that the premiere production be William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and 3) that it have large ladies' rooms.[8]

Garson was a devout Presbyterian.[9]


Greer Garson died from heart failure in Dallas on 6 April 1996, at the age of 91. She is interred there in the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery.


Year Film Role Notes
1939 Goodbye, Mr. Chips Katherine Chipping Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
Remember? Linda Bronson Holland
1940 The Miracle of Sound Herself colour test for Blossoms in the Dust
Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet
1941 Blossoms in the Dust Edna Kahly Gladney Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
When Ladies Meet Mrs. Claire Woodruff
1942 Mrs. Miniver Mrs. Kay Miniver Winner - Academy Award for Best Actress
Random Harvest Paula Ridgeway
1943 The Youngest Profession Herself - Guest Star
Madame Curie Marie Curie Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
1944 Mrs. Parkington Susie "Sparrow" Parkington Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
1945 The Valley of Decision Mary Rafferty Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
Adventure Emily Sears
1947 Desire Me Marise Aubert
1948 Julia Misbehaves Julia Packett
1949 That Forsyte Woman Irene Forsyte
1950 Screen Actors Herself - uncredited short subject
The Miniver Story Mrs. Kay Miniver
1951 The Law and the Lady Jane Hoskins aka Lady Jane Loverly
1953 Scandal at Scourie Mrs. Victoria McChesney
Julius Caesar Calpurnia
1954 Her Twelve Men Jan Stewart
1955 Strange Lady in Town Dr. Julia Winslow Garth
1960 Sunrise at Campobello Eleanor Roosevelt Golden Globe
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
Pepe Herself Cameo appearance
1966 The Singing Nun Mother Prioress
1967 The Happiest Millionaire Mrs. Cordelia Biddle
1968 The Little Drummer Boy "Our Story Teller" as Ms. Greer Garson
1978 Little Women Aunt Kathryn March
1986 Directed by William Wyler Herself documentary



  1. ^ Garson's educational details are provided near the beginning
  2. ^ Troyan, Michael (1999), pp. 57-58, 380
  3. ^ Crowther, Bosley (9 August 1940). "Movie Review Pride and Prejudice (1940)". 
  4. ^,_Greer/Biography/
  5. ^ "The Longest Acceptance Speech". Infoplease. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  6. ^ Garnett, Tay, Light Your Torches and Pull up your Tights, New Rochelle, N.Y., Arlington House, [1973], ISBN 0-87000-204-X
  7. ^ Troyan, Michael (1999), pp. 240-241
  8. ^ Sarvady, Andrea (2006), p. 83
  9. ^ Michael Troyan, A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson, The University Press of Kentucky: Lexington, Kentucky (1999), pages 8-9


  • Sarvady, Andrea, Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era (edited by Frank Miller), (TCM Film Guides), San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 2006, ISBN 0-8118-5248-2
  • Troyan, Michael, A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson, Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 1999, ISBN 0-8131-2094-2

External links

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