The daughter of a Dublin attorney, Geraldine Fitzgerald was still in her teens when she made her theatrical bow with the Gate Theatre. In films from 1934, she played a series of petulant ingénues in a string of forgettable quota quickies; in later years, she sarcastically summed up her early screen roles by repeating her most frequent snatch of dialogue, "But daddy, it's my birthday!" With her first husband, she moved to New York in 1938, where she was hired by her old Gate Theatre colleague Orson Welles to star in the Mercury Theater production Heartbreak House. This led to several choice Hollywood assignments in such films as Dark Victory (1939) and Wuthering Heights (1939). Forever battling with studio executives over her often inconsequential screen assignments (exceptions included such roles as Edith Galt in the 1945 biopic Wilson), Fitzgerald briefly gave up films in 1948 to return to the stage. Carefully picking and choosing her subsequent movie roles, she established herself as a reliable character actress in quality films like Ten North Frederick (1958) and The Pawnbroker (1965). She briefly pursued a folksinging career before returning to Broadway in the ultra-demanding role of Mary Tyrone in the 1971 revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night. Active into the late '80s, Fitzgerald has added a welcome dash of Hibernian feistiness to such projects as Arthur (1981) and Easy Money (1983). Geraldine Fitzgerald is the mother of prominent British film director Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Her father was a prominent Dublin lawyer whose firm was mentioned in James Joyce's Ulysses.
- Turned down her first opportunity at acting at age 18 in a "bit part" offered by her aunt Shelah Richards at the Abbey Theatre because she wanted to make her own way.
- Appeared opposite Orson Welles in the production of Heartbreak House at Broadway's Gate Theatre in 1938.
- In 1968, she collaborated with her brother Jonathon Ringkamp on a free community theatre project, three years later, they formed the Everyman Company.
- Received a Mayor John Lindsay award for her community theater work and awarded an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts for her contribution to the youth of New York.
- Suffered from Alzheimer's disease for a decade and died at her home in Upper East Side of Manhattan from an infection after respiratory difficulties.