Actress/Director Geraldine Fitzgerald Dies at 91

Geraldine Fitzgerald, the versatile, Tony-nominated actress-director who found equal success in films and theatre, has passed away at the age of 91; she died on July 17th in her Manhattan home.

A respiratory infection was cited as the cause of death, as daughter Susan Scheftel told the New York Times.  Fitzgerald had been struggling with Alzheimer's Disease for a decade.

A sleek, elegant redhead, Fitzgerald was born in Dublin and performed at the Gate Theatre beginning in 1932; she also trained at the Dublin Art School.  After making her Broadway debut in Orson Welles' production of Shaw's Heartbreak House at the Mercury Theatre, the star was signed to Warner Brothers, where she would make the majority of her most memorable screen appearances.  She received an Academy Award nomination for playing Isabelle Linton in Wuthering Heights.  She co-starred with Bette Davis in both Dark Victory and Watch on the Rhine, and also appeared in 'Til We Meet Again, Wilson, Rachel, Rachel, The Pawnbroker and Arthur, among over four dozens more.

Her Tony Award nomination came not as a performer, but as a director; she received a nomination for 1981's Mass Appeal.  Her Broadway credits as an actress include Sons and Soldiers, Hide and Seek, Ah, Wilderness!, The Shadow Box and Eugene O'Neill's A Touch of the Poet.  She had previously acted in an O'Neill play in 1971, when she took on the towering role of Mary Tyrone in an off-Broadway production of A Long Day's Journey Into Night that also starred Robert Ryan, Stacy Keach and James Naughton.  She shepherded an all-African American staging of the sprawling masterpiece, too, in 1981; Gloria Foster and Earle Hyman starred.

Other theatre credits included Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma at off-Broadway's now-closed Phoenix Theatre, King Lear at City Center (she played the treacherous Goneril), Hamlet in Stratford, CT (as Gertrude) and The Cave Dwellers at the Greenwich Mews Theatre.  She also dabbled in cabaret and musical theatre.  Geraldine Fitzgerald in Songs of the Street opened in 1976, and she directed the musical Sharon, which opened at Playhouse 91 in 1993.  She also wrote the book and lyrics for the short-lived show.

Fitzgerald is survived by daughter Scheftel (whose father, Stuart Scheftel, was Fitzgerald's second husband) and by son Michael Linday-Hogg.  Lindsay-Hogg, a successful director for theatre and film himself, resulted from Fitzgerald's first marriage to writer Edward Lindsay-Hogg.


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