Born in Dublin, Ireland on Nov. 24, 1913, Geraldine Fitzgerald began her professional acting career while still a teenager at the Gate Theatre, where her aunt Shelah Richards was the reigning star. Beginning in 1934, she began appearing in several low-budget British films, most notable of which were "The Mill On The Floss" with James Mason and "The Turn of the Tide." In 1938, she made her Broadway debut in the Mercury Theatre production of "Heartbreak House" opposite Orson Welles, whom she had previously met when he was at the Gate.
Producer Hal Wallis, captivated by her performance, signed the Irish beauty to a seven-year contract at Warner Brothers, beginning with her acclaimed 1939 performance with Bette Davis in "Dark Victory." This led William Wyler to borrow her for the Samuel Goldwyn production of "Wuthering Heights," which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Dissatifisfied with the subsequent roles offered her by studio boss Jack Warner, she was under frequent suspensions that damaged her career, but still managed strong performances in such films as "Watch On The Rhine," "The Gay Sisters," "Three Strangers," "Shining Victory," "Flight From Destiny," "The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry," "O.S.S.," "Nobody Lives Forever," "A Child Is Born," "So Evil My Love," and as First Lady Edith Wilson in "Wilson," which landed her on the cover of Life Magazine.
Fitzgerald moved back to New York in 1946 when she married businessman/politician Stuart Scheftel (grandson of Macy's owner and Titanic victim Isidor Straus) and concentrated on stage and TV roles, among them "King Lear" with Welles and "The Moon and Sixpence" with Laurence Olivier, occasionally returning to the screen in such films as "Ten North Frederick," "The Pawnbroker" and "Rachel, Rachel."
Her 1971 performance as Mary Tyrone in the Broadway revival of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" brought her new acclaim and jump-started her career as a consummate character actress. Subsequent Broadway appearances included "Ah, Wilderness," the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Shadow Box," "A Touch of the Poet" with Jason Robards and Arthur Miller's "Danger: Memory."
Later theatrical films include "Arthur" and "Arthur 2: On The Rocks," "Poltergeist II," "Easy Money," "The Last American Hero," and "Harry and Tonto." Numerous TV roles have included "Kennedy" (as Rose Kennedy), "Do You Remember Love?" with Joanne Woodward, "The Jilting of Granny Wetherall," "Rodeo Red and the Runaway" (Emmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress), and guest appearances on such shows as "Golden Girls," "St. Elsewhere," "Trapper John M.D.," "Lou Grant," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," and "Studio One." She played Madeline Kahn's mother in "Oh Madeline" and starred in her own series pilot, "Mabel and Max," produced by Barbra Streisand. She also starred in several major dramas for PBS.
She began a second career as a cabaret singer with her critically-acclaimed show "Streetsongs," which went on to play three separate theatrical runs in New York (including opening the Criterion Center on Broadway in 1990) and was televised by PBS. She also began a third career as stage director, becoming one of the first women to receive a Tony nomination as Best Director for "Mass Appeal" in 1984, devoting the rest of her stage career to primarily directing. Her son is the noted director Michael Lindsay-Hogg and a great-niece, Tara Fitzgerald, carries on the acting tradition begun by her Aunt Shelah.
Biography courtesy of Alan Eichler.