A strikingly attractive, red-haired former stage actress of Anglo-Irish descent, Greer Garson appeared in films from 1939, mostly with MGM. Her relatively brief but affecting debut performance as Mrs....
Considered the most popular of Austen’s novels Pride and Prejudice examines the class struggles of England’s 19th century. It revolves around the spirited Bennet family: the headstrong and intelligent Elizabeth (Keira Knightley); her older and more serene sister Jane (Rosamund Pike); their three younger sisters (Jena Malone Talulah Riley Carey Mulligan); their doting father (Donald Sutherland); and their mother (Brenda Blethyn) who’s obsessed with finding the girls suitable husbands. When Lizzie finally meets her match in the aloof Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFayden) she immediately dismisses him as an arrogant ass. But ever so slowly it dawns on Lizzie she may be entirely wrong about Darcy. Is it too late to tell him? An Austen adaptation naturally lends itself to a gathering of fine British actors (or actors who can pretend to be British). Leading the pack is the very lovely Keira Knightley. A far cry from the shotgun-totin’ bounty hunter in Domino the actress certainly gives her most layered performance as Elizabeth. But she’s once again playing a spirited woman who doesn’t adhere to the rules. Guess nobody’s gonna ever put Keira in a corner. As her Mr. Darcy MacFayden plays one of literature’s more enduring romantic figures with style. He gives Colin Firth--who’s considered one of the better Darcys after playing him in a 1995 TV miniseries--a run for his money. The rest of the stellar cast is just as refreshing as ever including Pike (Doom) as the modest beauty Jane and Sutherland as the elder Bennet who is the reason Elizabeth is as independent as she is. This feature film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is entirely different from the last one--the 1940 glossy production starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. Newcomer Joe Wright gives Pride and Prejudice a definitive indie feel by using the camera in very intimate ways as we watch the fun-loving Bennets interact. Of course filming in the flourishing English countryside doesn’t hurt either. Wright delivers amazing displays of breathtaking beauty from Elizabeth standing on a cliff in Brighton to watching Darcy stride across a field at sunrise to claim his love once and for all. Pride and Prejudice does move a little slowly and it isn’t as rich as the 1995 Oscar-winning Sense and Sensibility but it’s been awhile since we’ve had Austen done in such a wonderfully romantic way. And who couldn’t use a little 19th-century romance?
Last of five successive appearances on boxoffice poll; placed 7th
London stage debut Regent's Park Open Theatre
Began making appearances on TV in such productions as "Reunion in Vienna" and "The Little Foxes"
Film debut, "Goodbye Mr. Chips"; earned first Oscar nomination
Made Broadway debut in title role of "Auntie Mame" (replacing Rosalind Russell)
Underwent quadruple-bypass surgery
Returned to films after a six-year absence, as Eleanor Roosevelt in "Sunrise at Campobello"
Stage debut with Birmingham Repertory Theatre in "Street Scene"
First teaming with Laurence Olivier in stage production, "Golden Arrow"
Began producing stage plays with Arthur Cantor
Final TV acting role, Aunt March in NBC miniseries "Little Women"
Acted in "The Singing Nun" after another six-year absence from the screen
Moved to London at age one after death of father
Starred with Olivier in "Pride and Prejudice"
Final feature film acting role in "The Happiest Millionaire"
Signed contract with MGM
Starred as "Mrs. Miniver"; won Oscar as Best Actress
Suffered heart attack
Last co-starring vehicle opposite Walter Pidgeon, "Scandal at Scourie"
Last theatrical production (as co-producer) "On Golden Pond"
Last starring film under MGM contract, "Strange Lady in Town"
First made the annual exhibitors poll of top ten boxoffice stars; placed 9th
First co-starring appearance opposite Walter Pidgeon, "Blossoms in the Dust"
A strikingly attractive, red-haired former stage actress of Anglo-Irish descent, Greer Garson appeared in films from 1939, mostly with MGM. Her relatively brief but affecting debut performance as Mrs. Chipping in the touching "Goodbye Mr. Chips" (1939) won her the first of seven Oscar nominations as Best Actress and made her an immediate star. After a lovely turn as the intelligent, playful Elizabeth in the comic "Pride and Prejudice" (1940), Garson inherited from Norma Shearer the mantle of Metro's resident prestige actress, suffering with genteel dignity through a series of A-budget soap operas.<p> Garson regularly appeared on boxoffice polls of the top ten stars during the WWII years; indeed, Betty Grable was the only female star who surpassed Garson in popularity during this time. Garson formed an attractive romantic partnership with the stalwart and gentlemanly Walter Pidgeon, with whom she co-starred eight times. Their finest pairings came with "Madame Curie" (1943) and "That Forsyte Woman" (1949), though popular memory regularly casts them as Mr. and "Mrs. Miniver" (1942), a then-acclaimed but rather overrated tribute to the stiff-upper-lip spirit of the British in WWII, for which she earned an Oscar. Garson also played quite well opposite popular matinee idols Ronald Colman in the delicate, sentimental romance, "Random Harvest" (1942) and Gregory Peck in the lavish family saga, "The Valley of Decision" (1945).<p> Garson's popularity began to ebb during the late 40s, the regal and dignified stoicism she embodied for the war years seeming less suitable in the face of postwar angst and malaise. Some of the attempts to vary Garson's image and type of roles, such as in the zany farce "Julia Misbehaves" (1948), were not particularly successful, but she continued on into the middle of the following decade with such smaller-scale vehicles as "Scandal at Scourie" (1953) and "Strange Lady in Town" (1954). She later made a comeback with her acclaimed performance as Eleanor Roosevelt opposite Ralph Bellamy in "Sunrise at Campobello" (1960) and also did periodic stage work. Her last feature acting role was in 1967's "The Happiest Millionaire" and her final film appearance was in the documentary "Directed by William Wyler" (1986). Garson, who had worked sporadically in TV since the 1950s, made one of her last acting appearances as Aunt March in the miniseries "Little Women" (NBC, 1978). After dabbling briefly in theater producing (notably the New York production of "On Golden Pond"), she retired in 1980 after suffering a heart attack. Eight years later, she underwent bypass surgery. Garson succumbed to heart failure at age 92 on April 6, 1996.<p> The actress was married three times. Her second husband (1943-47) was actor Richard Ney, who had played her son in "Mrs. Miniver".
second of three husbands, married in 1943; divorced in 1947; played Garson's son in "Mrs. Miniver" (1942)
married in 1933; divorced in 1941
University of Grenoble
University of London
Various sources gave her year of birth as 1903, 1906 and 1908. It was revealed after her death that she was born in 1903.
Popular mythology has gently chided Greer Garson for supposedly giving the longest Academy Award acceptance speech in the history of the Oscars; actually, her speech was somewhat more in the ballpark of six minutes. It was, however, given at the end of a long evening, and Garson herself has recalled that she not only felt she had many people to thank, but also that she sincerely thought the moment an appropriate one to raise some issues about the award and the potential of the Academy itself.