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Allgood, Sara (1883–1950)

Allgood, Sara (1883–1950)

Irish character actress. Born in Dublin, Ireland, on October 31, 1883; died in Hollywood, California, on September 13, 1950; sister of actress Molly Allgood whose stagename was Máire O'Neill (1885–1952); apprenticed to an upholsterer; joined Inghinidehe na hÉireann, founded by Maude Gonne MacBride; married Gerald Henson (d. 1918, an actor), in September 1916; children: one daughter who died at birth (January 1918); became an American citizen in 1945.


Just Peggy (Australia, 1918); Blackmail (1929); Juno and the Paycock (The Shame of Mary Boyle, 1930); The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (U.K., 1932); Irish Hearts (also titled Nora O'Neale, U.K., 1934); Peg of Old Drury (U.K., 1935); Riders to the Sea (U.K., 1935); The Passing of the Third Floor Back (U.K., 1935); It's Love Again (U.K, 1936); Sabotage (The Woman Alone; U.K., 1936); Storm in a Teacup (U.K., 1937); On the Night of the Fire (The Fugitive, U.K., 1939); That Hamilton Woman (Lady Hamilton, 1941); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941); Lydia (1941); How Green Was my Valley (1941); Roxie Hart (1942); This Above All (1942); It Happened in Flatbush (1942); The War Against Mrs. Hadley (1942); Life Begins at 8:30 (1942); City Without Men (1943); The Lodger (1944); Jane Eyre (1944); Keys of the Kingdom (1944); Between Two Worlds (1944); The Spiral Staircase (1945); Uncle Harry (1945); Kitty (1946); Cluny Brown (1946); Ivy (1947); The Fabulous Dorseys (1947); Mourning Becomes Electra (1947); Mother Wore Tights (1947); My Wild Irish Rose (1947); The Girl From Manhattan (1948); One Touch of Venus (1948); The Man From Texas (1948); The Accused (1948); Challenge to Lassie (U.S, 1949); Cheaper by the Dozen (1950); Sierra (1950).

Legendary character actress Sara Allgood began her career in 1904 at Dublin's Abbey Theatre, then known as the Irish National Theatre Society; Allgood was a founding member. She made her debut as Cathleen in John Millington Synge's Riders to the Sea. Playing at the Irish National for the next decade, she originated such great roles as Mrs. Fallon in Lady (Augusta) Gregory 's Spreading the News (1904), the Widow Quin in J.M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World (1907), Lavarcham in Deirdre of the Sorrows (1910), and the title role in Cathleen ni Houlihan (1913). Allgood was also involved with the inception of the Liverpool Repertory Theatre and Annie Horniman 's company at Manchester. In London, Allgood created the role of Nannie Webster in James M. Barrie's The Little Minister.

In 1916, she toured Australia in Peg o' My Heart and, that September, married her leading man, Gerald Henson, in Melbourne. In January 1918, she gave birth to a daughter who lived only one hour, and, in November of that same year, her husband died during an influenza epidemic in Wellington. The year 1920 found Allgood back in London reprising her role in Playboy of the Western World, while also creating the roles of Juno Boyle in Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock and Bessie Burgess in The Plough and the Stars. Allgood also portrayed Mrs. Henderson in the Court production of Shadow of a Gunman. Arriving in America in the 1920s, Allgood reprised all her O'Casey roles on stage, which she would do again in London in the 1930s. Now in her 40s, she began to be typecast as a loveable Irish mother or grandmother.

Her film career began in England when she teamed with Alfred Hitchcock for two roles: the 1929 Blackmail and the 1930 filming of her greatest stage success in Juno and the Paycock (also titled The Shame of Mary Boyle), with screenplay by Hitchcock and Alma Reville . In 1940, Allgood was off to Hollywood. Though she continued to be cast as the kindly Irish mother, she added heft to the parts and was nominated for best supporting actress for her role in Richard Llewellyn's How Green Was my Valley (1941). She died in Hollywood on September 13, 1950.

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