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Page, Geraldine

PAGE, Geraldine



Nationality: American. Born: Kirksville, Missouri, 22 November 1924. Education: Attended the Goodman Theatre Dramatic School, Chicago; also studied acting with Uta Hagen. Family: Married 1) Alexander Schneider, 1956 (divorced); 2) the actor Rip Torn; daughter: Angelica; twin sons: Anthony and Jonathan. Career: Actress in Lake Zurich, Illinois, summer theater, four summers; also with Woodstock, Illinois, repertory company for two years; worked in New York for International Thread Company while acting off-Broadway; 1947—film debut in Out of the Night; 1951—leading role in Summer and Smoke in New York, repeated in film version in 1961; film contract with Charles K. Feldman; 1953—Broadway debut in Mid-Summer; first featured film role in Hondo; later stage work includes roles in Sweet Bird of Youth, 1959, Strange Interlude, 1963, Three Sisters, 1964, Clothes for a Summer Hotel, 1980 and Agnes of God, 1982. Awards: Best Supporting Actress, British Academy, for Interiors, 1978; Oscar for Best Actress, for The Trip to Bountiful, 1985. Died: Of a heart attack, in New York City, 13 June 1987.

Films as Actress:

1947

Out of the Night

1953

Hondo (Farrow) (as Angie Lowe); Taxi (Ratoff) (as Florence Albert)

1961

Summer and Smoke (Glenville) (as Alma Winemiller)

1962

Sweet Bird of Youth (Brooks) (as Alexandra Del Lago)

1963

Toys in the Attic (Hill) (as Carrie Berniers)

1964

Dear Heart (Delbert Mann) (as Elvie Johnson)

1966

Monday's Child (Nilsson); You're a Big Boy Now (Coppola) (as Margery Chanticleer)

1967

The Happiest Millionaire (Tokar) (as Mrs. Duke)

1968

What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (Katzin) (as Mrs. Clair Marrable)

1969

"A Christmas Memory" ep. of Trilogy (Perry—for TV) (as the Woman)

1971

The Beguiled (Siegel) (as Martha); J. W. Coop (Robertson) (as Mama)

1972

Pete 'n' Tillie (Ritt) (as Gertrude)

1973

Happy as the Grass Was Green (Hazel's People) (Davis) (as Anna Witmer)

1974

Live Again, Die Again (Colla—for TV)

1975

Day of the Locust (Schlesinger) (as Big Sister)

1976

Nasty Habits (Hogg) (as Walburga)

1977

The Rescuers (Reitherman, Lounsbery, and Stevens—animation) (as voice of Mme. Medusa); Something for Joey (Antonio—for TV); The Three Sisters (Bogart) (as Olga)

1978

Interiors (Allen) (as Eve)

1981

Honky Tonk Freeway (Schlesinger) (as Sister Mary Clarise); Harry's War (Merrill) (as Beverley)

1982

I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can (Hofsiss) (as Jean Martin)

1984

The Pope of Greenwich Village (Rosenberg) (as Mrs. Ritter); The Parade (Hit Parade) (Hunt); The Dollmaker (Petrie—for TV)

1985

White Nights (Hackford) (as Anne Wyatt); The Trip to Bountiful (Masterson) (as Mrs. Carrie Watts); The Bride (Roddam) (as Mrs. Baumann); Flanagan (Goldstein) (as Mama)

1986

My Little Girl (Kaiserman) (as Grandmother Molly); Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfield Story (Nazi Hunter: The Search for Klaus Barbie) (Lindsay-Hogg); Native Son (Freedman) (as Peggy)

Publications


By PAGE: article—

Interview in Actors in Acting: Performing in Theatre and Film Today, by Joanmarie Kalter, New York, 1979.

On PAGE: articles—

Current Biography 1953, New York, 1953.

Eyles, Allen, "Geraldine Page," in Focus on Film (London), Spring 1973.

Obituary in New York Times, 15 June 1987.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 17 June 1987.

Film Dope (Nottingham), April 1994.


* * *

An exponent of the Method style of acting, Geraldine Page was best known as a stage performer, particularly for her work in the plays of Tennessee Williams. Her performances in the film versions of Summer and Smoke, as a shy spinster hopelessly in love with her neighbor, and Sweet Bird of Youth, as an aging movie star suffering from a nervous breakdown, established her as a successful and important actress and indicated the wide range of her acting abilities.

In 1953, Page was brought to Hollywood to play opposite John Wayne in Hondo as Angie Lowe, a homesteader with child, abandoned by her husband. Warner Brothers executives were unimpressed with her despite an Oscar nomination; she was not offered another Hollywood film until the 1960s. After the two Tennessee Williams roles, she became somewhat typecast as a spinster or neurotic, as evidenced by her characters in Toys in the Attic, Dear Heart, and You're a Big Boy Now. Her eccentric image was pushed to its sinister extreme, epitomizing evil behind a sweet facade, in such films as The Beguiled and Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice?, while her comic abilities were showcased in Pete 'n' Tillie (notably her frustration when police demand to know her real age).

Woody Allen used the accumulated resonance of her desperately vulnerable character roles when he cast her as the self-pitying wife and overbearing mother of Interiors, a woman whose well-ordered existence is shattered by her husband's desire for a divorce. Life becomes a strain: a spilled drop of wine at her birthday celebration provides an exquisite moment for Page to eloquently communicate long suffering.

Her stage career continued to be her prime focus, working both on and off Broadway, and accepting only occasional television parts and movie roles. In 1984, Page was awarded a seventh Oscar nomination for The Pope of Greenwich Village, the record for actresses who had yet to win.

The following year, the losing streak was ended with her glorious performance in The Trip to Bountiful as Mrs. Carrie Watts, an aging widow now living in a two-room Houston apartment with her son and overbearing daughter-in-law. Aware her time is near, Mrs. Watts is anxious to make one last trip to Bountiful, the place of her youth. As a woman coping with the sorrows and frustrations of old age dependency, Page brilliantly communicates Mrs. Watts' tendency for self-dramatization: she will make it to Bountiful if she has to walk the last 12 miles from Harrison. The emotional journey Mrs. Watts takes on this trip allows Page to use effectively the sense memory skills of her Method background: upon her arrival at the homestead, her simple statement "I'm home" is accompanied by a facial expression that magnificently encompasses both the joy of arrival and a sadness over those not present.

—Doug Tomlinson

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