Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer popularized during the Second World War for her portrayal of strong women on the homefront; listed by the Motion Picture Herald as one of America's top-ten box office draws from 1942 to 1946.(29 September 1904 – 6 April 1996) was a British American actress and singer. She was a major star at
Publicity photo of Garson c. 1940s
Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson
29 September 1904
|Died||6 April 1996 (aged 91)|
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Resting place||Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Citizenship||British subject (1904–1996)|
United States (1951–1996)
|Alma mater||King's College London|
Garson received seven Academy Award nominations, including a record-tying five consecutive nominations (1941–45) in the Best Actress category, winning the award for her performance in the title role of the 1942 film Mrs. Miniver.
Greer Garson was born on 29 September 1904 in Manor Park, East Ham (then in Essex, now part of London), the only child of Nina (née Nancy Sophia Greer; 1880-1958) and George Garson (1865–1906), a commercial clerk in a London importing business. Her father was born in London to Scottish parents, and her mother was born at Drumalore (usually spelled as Drumalure or Drumaloor), a townland near Belturbet in County Cavan, Ireland. The name Greer is a contraction of MacGregor, another family name.
Her maternal grandfather was David Greer (c. 1848-1913) from Kilrea, County Londonderry, an RIC sergeant stationed for a time in Castlewellan, County Down. In the 1870s or 1880s, he became a land steward to the Annesley family, wealthy landlords who built the town of Castlewellan. While in Castlewellan, David Greer lived in a large detached house built on the lower part of what was known as Pig Street, or locally known 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 erroneously that Greer Garson was born in this house (The Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia gives her year of birth as 1908 and her place of birth as County Down, Ireland).
Garson was educated at King's College, London and did post graduate studies at University of Grenoble, where she earned degrees in French and 18th-century literature. While aspiring to be an actress, she was appointed head of the research library of LINTAS, the marketing department of Lever Brothers. Her co-worker there, George Sanders, wrote in his autobiography that it was Garson who suggested he take up a career in acting.
Garson's early professional appearances were on stage, starting at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in January 1932, when she was 27 years old. She appeared on television during its earliest years (the late 1930s), most notably starring in a 30-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. In 1936, she appeared in the West End in Charles Bennett's play Page From a Diary.
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.
Garson starred with Joan Crawford in When Ladies Meet, a 1941 poorly received and sanitized re-make of a Pre-Code version of the same name, which had starred Ann Harding and Myrna Loy. That same year, she became a major box-office star with the sentimental Technicolor drama Blossoms in the Dust, which brought her the second of five consecutive Best Actress Oscar nominations, tying Bette Davis's 1938–1942 record, which still stands.
Garson won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1942 for her role as a strong British wife and mother protecting the homefront during World War II in Mrs. Miniver. The Guinness Book of World Records credits her with the longest Oscar acceptance speech, at five minutes and 30 seconds, after which the Academy Awards instituted a time limit.
In 1942, Garson also co-starred in the powerful, dramatic film Random Harvest with Academy Award winner Ronald Colman. Set at the end of World War I, with Ronald Colman as an amnesiac soldier and Greer Garson as his love interest, Random Harvest received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. It lost to Mrs. Miniver, Garson's other major film that year. Colman was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Random Harvest, but Garson could not be nominated for hers as she was already nominated for her title role in Mrs. Miniver.
Garson also received Oscar nominations for her performances in the films Madame Curie (1943), Mrs. Parkington (1944), and The Valley of Decision (1945). She frequently co-starred with Walter Pidgeon, ultimately making eight pictures with him: Blossoms in the Dust (1941), Mrs. Miniver (1942), Madame Curie, Mrs. Parkington, Julia Misbehaves (1948), That Forsyte Woman (1949), The Miniver Story (1950), and Scandal at Scourie (1953).
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!". Gable argued for "He put the Arson in Garson"; she countered with "She put the Able in Gable!"; thereafter, the safer catchphrase was selected.
Garson's popularity declined somewhat in the late 1940s, but she remained a prominent film star until the mid-1950s. In 1951, she became a naturalised citizen of the United States. 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.
Greer was special guest on an episode of the TV series Father Knows Best, playing herself. On 4 October 1956, Garson appeared with Reginald Gardiner as the first two guest stars of the series in the premiere of NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. She appeared as a mystery guest on What's My Line on 25 October 1953 and again on 6 April 1958 to promote her appearance on stage in Auntie Mame. She also served as a panelist rather than a guest on the What's My Line episode which aired on 12 May 1957.
She returned to MGM for a role in The Singing Nun (1966) starring Debbie Reynolds. Her last film, in 1967, was Walt Disney's The Happiest Millionaire, although she made infrequent television appearances afterwards. In 1968, she narrated the children's television special The Little Drummer Boy. Her final role for television was in a 1982 episode of The Love Boat.
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 affairs. After a honeymoon in Germany, he returned to his appointment at Nagpur, a town in central India, and she chose to return to her mother and the theatre in Britain. Sir Edward reportedly grieved at losing her and would watch multiple screenings of any film of hers that played in Nagpur. The marriage was not formally dissolved until 1943.
Her second marriage, on 24 July 1943, was to Richard Ney (1916–2004), a young actor who had played her son in Mrs. Miniver. The relationship was under constant scrutiny owing to their 12-year age difference. MGM tried to publicize that Garson was merely three years older than Ney and to portray the image of a happy couple, but the marriage was troubled. They divorced in 1947 after several attempts at reconciliation. Ney eventually became a stock-market analyst, financial consultant, and author.
In 1967, the couple retired to their Forked Lightning Ranch in New Mexico. They purchased the US Hall of Fame champion Thoroughbred Ack Ack from the estate of Harry F. Guggenheim in 1971 and were successful as breeders. They also maintained a home in Dallas, where Garson funded the Greer Garson Theatre facility at Southern Methodist University. She founded a permanent endowment for the Fogelson Honors Forum at Texas Christian University (TCU), Buddy Fogelson's alma mater, in nearby Fort Worth.
During her later years, Garson was recognised for her philanthropy and civic leadership. She donated several million dollars for the construction of the Greer Garson Theatre at both the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts on three conditions: 1) the stages be circular, 2) the premiere production be A Midsummer Night's Dream, and 3) they have large ladies' rooms.
The actress suffered a back injury during her first 18 months at MGM while waiting for a role Mayer deemed worthy of her, and was nearly released from her contract. Her back was injured again while filming Desire Me in Monterey on 26 April 1946 when a wave knocked her and co-star Richard Hart from the rocks where they were rehearsing. A local fisherman and extra in the film rescued Garson from the surf and potential undertow. She was bruised and in shock and required by doctors to rest for several days. The injury to her back would require several surgeries over the coming years.
Garson lived her final years in a penthouse suite at the Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, where she died from heart failure on 6 April 1996 at the age of 91. She is interred beside her husband in the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Dallas.
Garson received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Southern Methodist University in 1991.
Garson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 8 February 1960 located at 1651 Vine Street in Los Angeles, CA.
|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||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|
|1947||Desire Me||Marise Aubert|
|1948||Julia Misbehaves||Julia Packett|
|1949||That Forsyte Woman||Irene Forsyte|
|1950||Screen Actors||Herself||Short subject, uncredited|
|The Miniver Story||Mrs. Kay Miniver|
|1951||The Law and the Lady||Jane Hoskins|
|1953||Scandal at Scourie||Mrs. Victoria McChesney|
|1954||Her Twelve Men||Jan Stewart|
|1955||Strange Lady in Town||Dr. Julia Winslow Garth|
|1956||The Little Foxes||Regina Giddens||TV Movie|
|1960||Sunrise at Campobello||Eleanor Roosevelt||Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, |
National Board of Review Award for Best Actress,
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
|Captain Brassbound's Conversion||Lady Cicely Waynflete||TV Movie|
|1963||Invincible Mr. Disraeli||Mary Anne Disraeli||TV Movie|
|1966||The Singing Nun||Mother Prioress|
|1967||The Happiest Millionaire||Mrs. Cordelia Biddle|
|1968||The Little Drummer Boy||"Our Story Teller"||Credited as Miss Greer Garson|
|1974||Crown Matrimonial||Queen Mary||TV Movie|
|1976||The Little Drummer Boy, Book II||"Our Story Teller"||Credited as Miss Greer Garson|
|1978||Little Women||Aunt Kathryn March||TV Miniseries|
|1986||Directed by William Wyler||Herself||Documentary|
Box Office RankingEdit
|Year||US Rank||UK Rank|
|1953,1958||What's My Line||Mystery Guest||Airdate: October 25, 1953 and April 6, 1958|
|1955||Producers' Showcase||Elena Krug||Episode: "Reunion in Vienna"|
|1956-1960||General Electric Theater||Various||3 Episodes|
|1957||Telephone Time||Liza Richardson|
|Father Knows Best||Herself|
|1962||The DuPont Show of the Week||Juliette Harben|
|1968-1970||Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In||Guest Performer||5 Episodes|
|1970||The Virginian||Frances B. Finch|
|1982||The Love Boat||Alice Bailey|
|1946||Academy Award||Brief Encounter|
|1946||Lux Radio Theatre||Mrs. Parkington|
|1952||Lux Radio Theatre||The African Queen|
|1953||Suspense||'Twas the Night Before Christmas|
- "Quigley's Annual List of Box-Office Champions, 1932–1970". Reel Classics. 23 October 2003. Archived from the original on 28 April 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
- "Persons With Acting Nominations in 3 or More Consecutive Years" (PDF). Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 1 March 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- Troyan, p. 8.
- Troyan, p. 10.
- Troyan, p. 9.
- Ephraim Katz, The Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia (1994)
- Sanders, George (1960). Memoirs of a Professional Cad. Hamish Hamilton. p. 54.
- Michael Troyan (12 September 2010). A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 21–22. ISBN 0-8131-2842-0.
- Troyan, Michael (1999), pp. 57–58, 380.
- Crowther, Bosley (9 August 1940). "THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; 'Pride and Prejudice,' a Delightful Comedy of Manners, Seen at the Music Hall-- 'South to Karanga' Given at the Rialto and 'Pier 13' at the Palace At the Rialto". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- Greer Garson on IMDb
- Tapert, Stephen (10 December 2019). Best Actress: The History of Oscar®-Winning Women. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-1-9788-0806-5.
- Robertson, Patrick (1988). Guinness Movie Facts & Feats. Guinness Books. ISBN 978-0-85112-899-3.
- "The Longest Acceptance Speech". Infoplease. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
- Garnett, Tay, Light Your Torches, and Pull up your Tights, New Rochelle, NY, Arlington House, 1973; ISBN 0-87000-204-X
- Troyan, Michael (1999), pp. 240–241.
- "Father Knows Best" Kathy's Big Chance (TV Episode 1957), retrieved 27 January 2019
- What's My Line? (11 January 2014). "What's My Line? – Ziegfeld Girls; Walter Brennan; Adolph Menjou, Greer Garson [panel] (12 May 1957)". YouTube. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
- Troyan, Michael (1968). A Rose for Mrs. Miniver : The life of Greer Garson. The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 33–34. ISBN 0-8131-2094-2.
- "24 July 1943". FamilySearch.org. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- "Richard Ney Dies; Actor, Investment Adviser". The Washington Post. 22 July 2004. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- "Garson Hasn't Got Ney". Life: 50. 6 October 1947. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "Forked Lightning Ranch". National Park Service. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
- Bowen, Edward L. (2004). Legacies of the Turf: A Century of Great Thoroughbred Breeders. Eclipse Press. ISBN 978-1-58150-117-9.
- "Buddy Fogelson, husband of Greer Garson, dies". UPI. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
- "THE LIFE AND THEATER OF GREER GARSON". D Magazine. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
- "E. E. Fogelson; Oilman and Philanthropist". Los Angeles Times. 3 December 1987. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
- "Greer Garson Nixes Political Career". The San Bernardino Sun. United Press International. 12 January 1966.
- Michael Troyan, A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson, University Press of Kentucky: Lexington, Kentucky (1999), pp. 8–9.ISBN 978-0813120942
- Sarvady, Andrea (2006), p. 83.
- Michael Troyan, A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson, The University Press of Kentucky: Lexington, Kentucky (1999), pp.198–200.ISBN 978-0813120942
- Zuniga, Janine (6 April 1996). "Actress Greer Garson Dies After Lengthy Illness". AP. Archived from the original on 30 September 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
- "SMU Honorary Degrees". sites.smu.edu. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
- "Garson, Greer (1904–1996)". encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- "Greer Garson Stars in 'Brief Encounter' On Academy Award—WHP". Harrisburg Telegraph. 16 November 1946. p. 17. Retrieved 14 September 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "'Lux' Guest". Harrisburg Telegraph. 23 November 1946. p. 19. Retrieved 13 September 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kirby, Walter (14 December 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Decatur Daily Review. p. 54.
- "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 38 (4): 38–39. Autumn 2012.
- Katz, Ephraim (1994). The Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia. Pan Macmillan Limited. p. 511. ISBN 0-333-61601-4.
- Sarvady, Andrea (2006). Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 0811852482.
- Troyan, Michael (1999). A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0813120942.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Greer Garson.|
- Greer Garson on IMDb
- Greer Garson at the TCM Movie Database
- Greer Garson at AllMovie
- Greer Garson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Greer Garson at Find a Grave
- on YouTube
- on YouTube
- The New York Times obituary
- Forked Lightning Ranch, Pecos National Historical Park
- Everything About Greer Garson fan website
- Image of Roddy McDowall, Julie Andrews and Greer Garson at the premiere of "The Greatest Story Ever Told" in Los Angeles, California, 1965. Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive (Collection 1429). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.
|Awards and achievements|
Charles Edward Wilson
| Cover of Time Magazine
20 December 1943