Here are 10 things you should know about Greer Garson, C.B.E., born 115 years ago today. She was something of an overnight success in pictures, portraying women she once described as “noble and admirable characters.”
Imposing leading man (he stood over 6-foot-2) Walter Pidgeon was born 120 years ago today. Happy birthday, Mr. Pidgeon, wherever you may be.
Here are 10 things you should know about Walter Pidgeon…
The lovely Greer Garson was born Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson 112 years ago today in London, England. Here are 10 GG Did-You-Knows:
- Garson was of Scottish and Ulster-Scots descent. Her father was a commercial clerk.
- She attended King’s College London with the intention of becoming a teacher, but the acclaim she received while working on local theatrical productions gave her the acting bug.
- In 1937, Garson appeared in a thirty-minute television production of an excerpt from Shakespeare‘s Twelfth Night. The production is thought to have been the first performance of a Shakespeare play on TV.
- Louis B. Mayer signed Garson to a contract in 1937 while on a talent search in London. Her first film was Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1938), for which she received an Oscar nomination.
- Garson received seven Academy Award nominations, including five consecutive Best Actress nominations, an achievement that tied Bette Davis for the record (which still stands), and a Best Actress win for Mrs. Miniver (1942). After the announcement that she had won, Garson gave the longest acceptance speech in Oscar history, clocking in at five minutes and 30 seconds (another record that still stands).
- Garson married Richard Ney after filming Mrs. Miniver, in which he played her son. He was the second of her two husbands; their marriage lasted just over five years.
- A fire in Garson’s home destroyed her Oscar; the Academy provided a replacement.
- Garson was envious of all the comedy roles Lucille Ball received while the two were both at MGM in the 1940s; for her part, Ball wished she were given more dramatic roles, as Garson was.
- Garson accepted Oscars for two actress who weren’t present for the Academy Awards ceremony: Vivian Leigh in 1952 and Sophia Loren in 1962.
- She played Walter Pidgeon‘s wife eight times in twelve years: Blossoms in the Dust (1941), Mrs. Miniver, Madame Curie (1943), Mrs. Parkington (1944), Julia Misbehaves (1948), That Forsyte Woman (1949), The Miniver Story (1950) and Scandal at Scourie (1953).
Happy birthday, Greer Garson, wherever you may be!
We weren’t always big fans of Walter Pidgeon, who was born 118 years ago today. The imposing (he stood just over 6-foot-2) Canadian-born actor can come off at times as a bit stolid, but we eventually warmed up to him.
His movie career began in silent pictures and he was able to make the switch to talkies in large part because he could sing. In the early days of talking pictures, he was featured in a number of now largely forgotten musicals, such as Viennese Nights (1930) and Bride of the Regiment (1930), but he eventually became a reliable leading man in dramas and some comedies—stalwart, masculine, gentlemanly—who could impart a touch of wry humor to roles when called upon.
Happy birthday, Mr. Pidgeon, wherever you may be.
Last night we watched The Lady Objects (1938), a strange and kind of silly drama/musical (drusical?) that finds Gloria Stuart, adorable as ever, playing a hotshot lawyer whose husband (Lanny Ross), a former All-American halfback, a world-class tenor and a hopeful young architect (quite the trifecta, that), resents her success and the demands it places on her time.
As we said, kind of silly, but entertaining enough, since we get a special kick out of watching any picture that features Ms. Stuart. We were pleased to do a telephone interview with her some years ago when her memoir was published, and we’ll admit to being not a little proud that when we got to meet her in person a few weeks later at her book party in NYC, she flirted with us just the slightest bit. Nothing overt, nothing untoward, but in a room filled almost entirely with the young women of the publishing industry, we stood out, it seems—a young(ish—we were 41 at the time) man who was thrilled to dote on Ms. Stuart, bringing her food and drink, asking her questions about her movie career back in the 1930s and generally behaving in starstruck fashion.
So whenever we see her looking so fetching on the screen, we can’t help but think, That gorgeous movie star once flirted with us, an actress who might have once flirted with Humphrey Bogart, The Marx Brothers, James Cagney, Lee Tracy, Melvyn Douglas, Boris Karloff, Ralph Bellamy, Pat O’Brien, Eddie Cantor, John Boles, Claude Rains, Lionel Atwell, Frank Morgan, Brian Donlevy, Warner Baxter, Dick Powell, Frank McHugh, Don Ameche, Lyle Talbot, George Sanders, Walter Pidgeon, Jack Oakie, and Richard Dix. In any case, she appeared in pictures with each of them (except Bogart and the Marx Brothers, whom she knew socially).
Yes, our brief encounter with Ms. Stuart came more than a half-century after those hypothetical Hollywood flirtations—she was 89 at the time—but if she batted her eyelashes at even one-tenth of her aforementioned costars back in the day, we’d have to say we’re in pretty good company!