Bel Geddes, Barbara (1922—)

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Bel Geddes, Barbara (1922—)

American actress, who originated the part of Maggie the Cat in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Born in New York City on October 31, 1922; daughter of Norman Bel Geddes (a stage designer, producer, and theater architect) and Helen Belle (Sneider) Bel Geddes; graduated from Buxton Country School, Putney School, and Andebrook School in Tarrytown, New York; married Carl Schreuer (an engineer), in January 1944 (divorced 1951); married Windsor Lewis (a producer and director); children: (first marriage) a daughter; (second marriage) a daughter.


The Long Night (1947); I Remember Mama (1948); Blood on the Moon (1948); Caught (1949); Panic in the Streets (1950); Fourteen Hours (1951); Vertigo (1958); The Five Pennies (1959); Five Branded Women (1959); By Love Possessed (1961); Summertree (1971); The Todd Killings (1971).

In July 1940, after apprenticing in summer stock, an 18-year-old Barbara Bel Geddes made her debut as a walk-on in Moliére's School for Scandal at the Clinton Playhouse in Clinton, Connecticut. She made her New York debut at the Windsor Theatre on February 11, 1941, playing Dottie Coburn, the ingenue, in Out of the Frying Pan. Four years later, she was given the New York Drama Critics Award for her performance as Genevra Langdon in Deep Are the Roots.

One year after her movie debut in The Long Night in 1947, Bel Geddes was nominated for best supporting actress for her role in the film I Remember Mama. But her movie career stalled in the 1950s, along with hundreds of others, when she was made to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. The actress turned to live television, appearing in dramas for "Studio One," "Schlitz Playhouse," and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."

One of Bel Geddes' more successful Broadway performances was as Patty O'Neill in F. Hugh Herbert's The Moon is Blue (1951). "Mr. Herbert ought to regard her as a treasure," wrote Brooks Atkinson. "Everyone else inevitably does." She then created the part of Maggie the Cat, opening in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Morosco on March 24, 1955. In 1961, she triumphed in Jean Kerr 's comedy, Mary, Mary, at the Helen Hayes Theater.

Though Bel Geddes was sidelined with cancer from 1971 to 1973, she returned to the stage in February of 1973 playing Katy Cooper in Finishing Touches. From 1978 to 1990, she played the role of Miss Ellie Ewing on the hit television series "Dallas" (she was forced to take a leave of absence in 1984 because of a heart operation).

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Bel Geddes, Barbara (1922—)

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