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Maggie McNamara
Born Marguerite McNamara
June 18, 1928(1928-06-18)
New York City, New York
Died February 18, 1978 (aged 49)
New York City, New York
Spouse(s) David Swift

Marguerite "Maggie" McNamara (June 18, 1928 – February 18, 1978) was an American stage, film, and television actress.


Early life

Born in New York City, McNamara was one of four children born to Irish American parents. Her mother was born in England to Irish parents.[1] She attended Textile High School in New York and worked as a teen model while studying drama and dance.[2] McNamara became one of the most successful models of John Robert Powers' modeling agency, and she commented on her modeling days:

"I was terrible shy and I used to work on myself to keep from showing it. When I was facing a camera I pretended that neither it nor the photographer were there. I played a game with myself according to the clothes I was wearing. [..] You have to feel right in what you are wearing, to have it look right. Just as each period has its own fashion, each person has his own style. When you find it I think you should stay with it. When I was modeling I had to dress exactly as Vogue wanted the picture to be. But any good quality becomes something else when it is overdone and I feel that this applies to being too clothesconscious. I don't care what the fashion dictator says. I will not follow if it's not right for me. But your over-all impression consists of more than clothes. Your grooming, posture, the sound of your voice and your perfume play a part in the total picture you create."[1]


In 1951, she began her acting career when she took over Barbara Bel Geddes' role as Patty O'Neill in the stage production of The Moon Is Blue.[3] Later that year, she made her Broadway debut in The King of Friday's Men.

In 1953, she went to Hollywood to reprise her role in Otto Preminger's film version of The Moon Is Blue. Her performance earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and a BAFTA nomination for Most Promising Newcomer to Film. McNamara's second film role was in Three Coins in the Fountain (1954). Although her career started off well, she made only two more films after Three Coins. In the early 1960s, she appeared in several television shows including an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "Ring-a-Ding Girl". McNamara's last onscreen role was in a 1964 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour entitled "The Body in the Barn".

Personal life and death

McNamara was married to actor/director David Swift. The marriage ended in divorce and McNamara never remarried.[4] After her last onscreen role in 1964, McNamara fell out of public view and spent her later years working as a typist in New York City. In February 1978, she was found dead after a deliberate overdose of sleeping pills.[2] According to police reports, she left a suicide note and had a history of mental illness.[4]

Maggie McNamara is interred in Saint Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York.


Year Film Role Notes
1953 The Moon Is Blue Patty O'Neill
Die Jungfrau auf dem Dach Tourist Uncredited
Alternative title: The Girl on the Roof
1954 Three Coins in the Fountain Maria Williams
1955 Prince of Players Mary Devlin Booth
1963 The Cardinal Florrie Fermoyle
Year Title Role Notes
1963 Ben Casey Dede Blake 1 episode
The Twilight Zone Barbara "Bunny" Blake 1 episode
1964 The Great Adventure Laura Drake
The Greatest Show on Earth Moira O'Kelley 1 episode
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Camilla 1 episode

Award nominations

Year Award Result Category Film
1954 Academy Award Nominated Best Actress in a Leading Role The Moon Is Blue
1955 BAFTA Award Most Promising Newcomer to Film The Moon Is Blue


  1. ^ a b "Maggie McNamara Is Just as on Screen" by Lydia Lane, San Antonio Express-News, June 11, 1954, p. 29
  2. ^ a b Brettell, Andrew; King, Noel; Kennedy, Damien; Imwold, Denise (2005). Cut!: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other Tragedies. Leonard, Warren Hsu; von Rohr, Heather. Barrons Educational Series. pp. 277. ISBN 0-764-15858-9. 
  3. ^ Brennan, Sandra. "Maggie McNamara biography". Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  4. ^ a b Katz, Ephraim (1994). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume (2 ed.). HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 877. ISBN 0-062-73089-4. 

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