Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Barbara Bel Geddes

Barbara Bel Geddes, a great theatre, screen and TV actress, has died at the age of 82.

A list of her theatre credits is here. Her best-known stage role was of course Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but she also had tremendous success in comedy, particularly two smash hits opposite Barry Nelson: The Moon is Blue and Mary, Mary. Unfortunately, though these two plays were filmed quite faithfully, she didn't get to appear in either of them; the film of The Moon is Blue used a young and inexperienced performer, Maggie McNamara, perhaps because Bel Geddes wasn't welcome in Hollywood in the mid-'50s due to her politics; and the film of Mary, Mary, though made after Bel Geddes was working in movies again, had Nelson repeating his stage role opposite a very miscast Debbie Reynolds.

Bel Geddes was extremely versatile; the innocent (or is she?) Patty in The Moon is Blue is as different as can be from the cynical Mary in Mary, Mary, and both of them are as different as can be from Maggie the Cat. Add in her tragi-comic sidekick character in Vertigo (she gets the best line in the film, "You know what, Doctor? I don't think Mozart's going to help at all") and her matriarch role on Dallas, and you have some idea of her range.

My longish essay on The Moon is Blue, and the character Bel Geddes played, is here.

No comments: