Sara Allgood

Sara Ellen Allgood (29 November 1879 – 13 September 1950) was an Irish actress who held both Irish and American citizenship. She first studied drama with the Irish nationalist Daughters of Ireland and was in the opening of the Irish National Theatre Society.

Sara Allgood
Sara Allgood - Project Gutenberg eText 19028.jpg
Allgood c. 1912
Sara Ellen Allgood

(1879-11-29)29 November 1879
Dublin, Ireland
Died13 September 1950(1950-09-13) (aged 70)
Years active1918–1950
Gerald Henson
(m. 1916; died 1918)
RelativesMaire O'Neill (sister)

In 1904, she had her first big role in Spreading the News and was a full-time actress the following year. In 1915, she toured Australia and New Zealand as the lead in Peg o' My Heart. Her acting career continued in Dublin, London, and the U.S. She appeared in a number of films, most notably being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Beth Morgan in the 1941 film How Green Was My Valley. She became an American citizen in 1945 and died of a heart attack in 1950.

Early lifeEdit

Allgood was born on 29 November 1879 at 45 Middle Abbey Street in Dublin, which was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at the time, the daughter of Margaret (née Harold) and compositor George Allgood.[1] Her mother was Catholic, while her father was Protestant.[2][3] She had seven siblings, one of whom was fellow actress Maire O'Neill, though the two were later estranged. A brother, Tom, became a Catholic priest.[4] After her father's death when she was a young girl, her mother returned to work as a furniture trader. Allgood began work as soon as she was able, apprenticed to a French polisher near her mother's workplace.[2]


Allgood joined the Irish nationalist Daughters of Ireland, where she first began to study drama under the direction of Maud Gonne and William Fay. She began her acting career at the Abbey Theatre and was in the opening of the Irish National Theatre Society. Her first big role was in December 1904 at the opening of Lady Gregory's Spreading the News.[4] By 1905 she was a full-time actress, touring England and North America.

In 1915, Allgood was cast as the lead in J. Hartley Manners' comedy Peg o' My Heart which toured Australia and New Zealand in 1916. She played the lead role opposite her Peg o' My Heart co-star and then-husband Gerald Henson in J. A. Lipman's 1918 silent film Just Peggy, shot in Sydney. After his death and her return to Ireland, she continued to perform at the Abbey Theatre. Her most memorable performance was in Seán O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock in 1923. She won acclaim in London when she played Bessie Burgess in O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars in 1926.[citation needed]

Allgood was frequently featured in early Hitchcock films, such as Blackmail (1929), Juno and the Paycock (1930), and Sabotage (1936).[5][6] She also had a significant role in Storm in a Teacup (1937).

After many successful theatre tours of America, Allgood pursued a film acting career. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role as Beth Morgan in the 1941 film How Green Was My Valley. She also had memorable roles in the 1941 retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, It Happened in Flatbush (1942), Jane Eyre (1943), The Lodger (1944), The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Spiral Staircase (1946), The Fabulous Dorseys (1947), and the original Cheaper by the Dozen (1950).[citation needed]

Personal lifeEdit

In September 1916, Allgood married her Peg o' My Heart co-star Gerald Henson while they were touring in Melbourne. In January 1918, they had a daughter named Mary who died one day later. In November of that year, the Spanish flu pandemic claimed Henson's life.[2]

Allgood settled in Hollywood in 1940 and became an American citizen in 1945.[citation needed]


On 13 September 1950, at the age of 70, Allgood died of a heart attack at her home in Woodland Hills, California.[citation needed]

Partial filmographyEdit

Allgood with J. M. Kerrigan in 1911


  1. ^ "General Registrar's Office". Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Ruane, Medb (1991). Ten Dublin Women. pp. 15–20.
  3. ^ Who Was Who in the Theatre: 1912-1976 volume 1 A-C page 36; compiled from editions originally published annually by John Parker, this 1976 version by Gale Research Company
  4. ^ a b Boylan, Henry (1998). A dictionary of Irish biography (3. ed.). Dublin: Gill & Macmillan. ISBN 0717125076.
  5. ^ E H Mikhail, ed. (1988). The Abbey Theater: interviews and recollections. Barnes & Noble. ISBN 0-389-20616-4.
  6. ^ Hunt, Hugh (1979). The Abbey, Ireland's National Theatre, 1904-1978. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231049061.
  7. ^ "Big Films in Review". The Sunday Times (Sydney) (1699). New South Wales, Australia. 11 August 1918. p. 18. Retrieved 23 February 2019 – via National Library of Australia.

Further readingEdit

  • Maltin, Leonard (2015) [First published 1969]. "Sara Allgood". The Real Stars : Profiles and Interviews of Hollywood's Unsung Featured Players (softcover) (Sixth / eBook ed.). Great Britain: CreateSpace Independent. pp. 1–12. ISBN 978-1-5116-4485-3.

External linksEdit