Geraldine Fitzgerald, Irish Actress and Director Who Acted in O'Neill and Directed Mass Appeal, Dead at 91

Obituaries   Geraldine Fitzgerald, Irish Actress and Director Who Acted in O'Neill and Directed Mass Appeal, Dead at 91
Geraldine Fitzgerald, the Dublin-born actress and director who was Tony Award nominated for her direction of Mass Appeal in 1982, died July 17 at her Manhattan home, according to The New York Times.

Ms. Fitzgerald was 91 and also has an Academy Award nomination, for playing Isabella Linton in "Wuthering Heights" in 1939, among her credits. She had Alzheimer's disease for a decade. Her daughter, Susan Scheftel, a clinical psychologist in New York, told the Times a respiratory infection led to her mother's death.

Ironically, in a 1985 TV movie called "Do You Remember Love," Ms. Fitzgerald played the mother of a woman whose memory had fallen victim to Alzheimer's. Joanne Woodward won an Emmy Award for playing the stricken daughter.

In a long career that included cabaret and specialty shows (such as Geraldine Fitzgerald in Songs of the Street on Broadway, and under the title Street Songs Off-Broadway), the red-headed Ms. Fitzgerald got to climb one of the Everests of the acting world: She played Mary Tyrone in a respected 1971 Off-Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, with Robert Ryan, Stacy Keach and James Naughton, directed by Arvin Brown.

For The Public Theater in 1981, she also directed an African-American-cast staging of Long Day's Journey starring Gloria Foster and Earle Hyman.

In her early days, Ms. Fitzgerald, the daughter of an attorney, performed at the Gate Theatre in Dublin starting in 1932. Her aunt, Shelagh Richards, was an actress there. Ms. Fitzgerald also studied at Dublin Art School and later, before World War II, married writer Edward Lindsay-Hogg. Their marriage didn't survive, but son Michael Lindsay-Hogg — himself now a respected stage and screen director — was born. She later married executive Stuart Scheftel, who died in 1994. Her Broadway debut came in 1938 with a production of Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House, directed by Orson Welles for the famed Mercury Theatre. Her work as Ellie in the play earned her a Hollywood contract with Warner Bros.

Her film credits include "Wilson," "Dark Victory," "Watch on the Rhine," "A Child Is Born," "Till We Meet Again." "Ten North Frederick," "The Pawnbroker," "Harry and Tonto" and "Arthur."

Ms. Fitzgerald was never far from a theatre, however. She worked on and Off-Broadway and regionally in Sons and Soldiers at the Morosco, Portrait in Black (it closed on the road before Broadway), The Doctor's Dilemma at the Phoenix Off-Broadway, King Lear at City Center (she was Goneril), Hamlet in Stratford, CT (she was Gertrude), Hide and Seek at the Barrymore, and The Cave Dwellers at Greenwich Mews Theatre in 1961. On Broadway in the 1970s, she appeared in A Touch of the Poet, The Shadow Box and (in a production preserved for TV) Ah, Wilderness!

In 1993, she was lyricist, librettist and director of a short-lived musical called Sharon, based on a story by John Keane, that played Playhouse 91.

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