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Gale Sondergaard Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (21)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Litchfield, Minnesota, USA
Died in Woodland Hills, California, USA  (cerebral vascular thrombosis)
Birth NameEdith Holm Sondergaard
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Sly, manipulative, dangerously cunning and sinister were the key words that best described the roles that Gale Sondergaard played in motion pictures, making her one of the most talented character actresses ever seen on the screen. She was educated at the University of Minnesota and later married director Herbert J. Biberman. Her husband went to find work in Hollywood and she reluctantly followed him there. Although she had extensive experience in stage work, she had no intention of becoming an actress in film. Her mind was changed after she was discovered by director Mervyn LeRoy, who offered her a key role in his film Anthony Adverse (1936); she accepted the part and was awarded the very first Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. LeRoy originally cast her as the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz (1939), but she felt she was not right for that role. Instead, she co-starred opposite Paul Muni in The Life of Emile Zola (1937), a film that won Best Picture in 1937. Sondergaard's most-remembered role was that of the sinister and cunning wife of a husband murdered by Bette Davis' character in The Letter (1940). Sondergaard continued her career rise in films such as Juarez (1939), The Mark of Zorro (1940), The Black Cat (1941), and Anna and the King of Siam (1946). Unfortunately, she was blacklisted when she refused to testify during the McCarthy-inspired "Red Scare" hysteria in the 1950s. She eventually returned to films in the 1960s and made her final appearance in the 1983 film Echoes (1982). Gale Sondergaard passed away of an undisclosed illness at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, at the age of 86.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Blythe379@cs.com

Spouse (2)

Herbert J. Biberman (8 May 1930 - 30 June 1971) ( his death) ( 2 children)
Neill O'Malley (1922 - 1930) ( divorced)

Trivia (21)

She was blacklisted with her husband in 1948.
Her daughter died in October 1965.
Was going to play the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939), but instead of making the witch similar to Snow White's beautiful but wicked queen, as was originally planned, it was decided the witch should be ugly. Gale then refused the role.
Was one of the main inspirations for the look of the Evil Queen/Witch in Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and was ironically rejected {due to her looks as previously mentioned) as the evil witch in The Wizard of Oz (1939), a film that sought to capitalize on the popularity of the former and fairy tales like it.
In high school plays, she studied at the Minneapolis School of Dramatic Arts.
Joined the Chautauqua theatre circuit in 1920 as an ingenue and a year later became a member of the John Keller Shakespeare Company, touring Canada and America in productions of "Hamlet," "Julius Caesar," "The Merchant of Venice" and "Macbeth.".
First actress to win an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Anthony Adverse (1936)).
In 1936 she and Maria Ouspenskaya became the first two actresses (of more than 50) to receive an Oscar nomination for their film debut. She was nominated (and won) the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Anthony Adverse (1936).
Sondergaard's parents had emigrated from Denmark separately.
Although she was born Edith, Sondergaard chose the name "Gale" as a stage name while an actress on the Chautauqua circuit.
After entering the University of Minnesota she joined the School of Music and Dramatic Arts, as the school did not have a drama department.
Soondergaard replaced Judith Anderson in the Theater Guild of New York's production of Eugene O'Neill's "Strange Interlude".
Despite popular belief, Sondergaard never signed a contract with Warners after winning an Oscar for "Anthony Adverse." She did sign a one-year contract with MGM in 1938 and a long-term deal with Universal, which produced 14 of her films between 1941 and 1947.
After she was blacklisted in 1947, director Mervyn LeRoy, who had given her her first break in "Anthony Adverse," cast her in a supporting role as Barbara Stanwyck's mother in "East Side, West Side" in order to test industry reaction. The negative response to her appearance completed the blacklisting, and she didn't appear in another major Hollywood film film for 28 years.
After she was called back for retakes on the TV movie "The Cat Creature," she was surprised by Charlton Heston, who presented her with a gold Oscar statuette replacing the plaque she had won decades earlier for "Anthony Adverse.".
Was considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).
Was the 9th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Anthony Adverse (1936) at the 9th Academy Awards on March 4, 1937.
Biography in "Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties" by Axel Nissen.
Daughter of Hans (1867-1947) and Kristine (née Hansen) Sondergaard (1872-1934). Both were born in Denmark, immigrating to America in 1892.
Adopted two children with her second husband, Herbert J. Biberman; a daughter, Joan Kristina (December 31, 1940-October 24, 1965), and a son, Daniel Hans (b. 1943).
Was in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: Anthony Adverse (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937) and The Letter (1940). The Life of Emile Zola won in this category.

Personal Quotes (1)

My parents were both progressive people learning much from Henrik Ibsen. My mother believed that a woman should not be tied down to family with nothing else in her life. They were also progressive politically. My father, we thought, voted the Democratic ticket, but actually he voted the Socialist ticket; my mother was a suffragette and I marched in parades with her.

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