Garson, Greer, 1904-1996

Alternative names
Birth 1904-09-29
Death 1996-04-06

Biographical notes:

Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson was one of the most honored actresses in the history of film, receiving seven nominations from the Motion Picture Academy for "Best Actress" (six in the 1940s) and winning the award in 1942.

From the description of Greer Garson collection, 1880-1996 (1935-1993) (Smithton Public Library District). WorldCat record id: 75287613

On September 29, 1904, Greer Garson was born in London to George and Nina Greer Garson. Following her education in the city's public schools, she graduated with honors from the University of London and did postgraduate studies at Grenoble University in France. She began a full-time acting career in late 1931, joining the prestigious Birmingham Repertory Company. In May 1935, after leaving the company, Miss Garson enjoyed a virtually uninterrupted two-year run of leading roles in London's West End, winning acclaim from critics and audiences alike. During these years, she also appeared in a few of the first productions on BBC Television. In 1937, Louis B. Mayer, impressed by one of her stage performances, signed her to a long-term contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Greer Garson's first starring role, in Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939), resulted in a nomination for Best Actress; the next year, Pride and Prejudice reunited her with Laurence Olivier, with whom she had worked on the London stage. In 1941, she received her next Best Actress nomination, for her work in Blossoms in the Dust, portraying Texas adoption pioneer Edna Gladney. This film also marked her initial pairing with Walter Pidgeon, which they reprised the following year in the film for which Greer Garson won the Best Actress award, Mrs. Miniver . In 1943, her portrayal of the title role in Madame Curie landed her on the cover of Time magazine, as she and Pidgeon played the husband-and-wife scientists who discovered radium.

Following her film triumphs of the 1940s, Miss Garson made a successful transition to television, notably in several productions in the critically acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame series. She also returned to her original acting medium, live theater. Beginning in December 1958, she held the title role in the Broadway production of Auntie Mame for a year. She left this production to portray Eleanor Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello, for which she received her final Best Actress nomination.

On July 15, 1949, Greer Garson married Dallas oilman-rancher-lawyer, Colonel E. E. "Buddy" Fogelson (1900-1987), who had been in charge of oil procurement for the Allied war effort in Europe during World War II. For several years, the Fogelsons divided their time between Los Angeles, Dallas, and their historic Forked Lighting Ranch in Pecos, New Mexico. Mrs. Fogelson (as she preferred to be known) became enthralled with the Southwest in general and Forked Lightning in particular, as she involved herself with her husband's interest in raising Santa Gertrudis cattle and in the life of the community. Forked Lightning served as an expression of the Fogelsons' interest in environmental and wildlife protection and historic preservation. The ranch is now a U.S. national wildlife refuge and the Fogelsons also donated funds and ranch property to the Department of the Interior to ensure the protection of Spanish and ancient Indian ruins (since designated a National Historic Monument).

A few years before Colonel Fogelson's death in 1987, the couple began residing full-time in Dallas, where Mrs. Fogelson embarked on a number of projects to benefit the community and to honor her husband. These included a fund at Southern Methodist University to provide annual scholarships for drama students and construction of Fogelson Forum, a medical education center at Presbyterian Hospital. Her final major gift was funding for SMU's Greer Garson Theatre, which opened in 1992. In addition to Mrs. Fogelson's philanthropic activities, she saw a renewed interest in her work later in life, receiving a number of awards, including the 1987 Annual Governor's Award for contributions to the arts of New Mexico, the 1988 USA Film Festival's Master Screen Artist Award, the Medal of Distinction from the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, and was named a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

  • 1904: Born in London (full name of Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson)
  • 1906: George Garson dies
  • 1921: Completes East Ham Secondary School, London
  • 1926: Graduates from University of London while working in art research and editing for Encyclopedia Britannica
  • 1927: Completes postgraduate studies at Grenoble University in France
  • 1927 - 31 : Oversees research library for advertising agency of London office of Lever Brothers
  • 1931: Joins Birmingham Repertory Company
  • 1933: Marries British civil servant Alec Snelson
  • 1937: Moves to Los Angeles after signing contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • 1939: Goodbye Mr. Chips; Remember? *
  • 1940: Divorces Alec Snelson; Pride and Prejudice
  • 1941: Blossoms in the Dust*; When Ladies Meet
  • 1942: Mrs. Miniver+*; Random Harvest
  • 1943: Marries actor Richard Ney; The Youngest Profession; Madame Curie*
  • 1944: Mrs. Parkington*
  • 1945: The Valley of Decision*
  • 1946: Adventure
  • 1947: Divorces Richard Ney; Desire Me
  • 1948: Julia Misbehaves
  • 1949: Marries Colonel E. E. "Buddy" Fogelson in Santa Fe, N.M.; That Forstye Woman(aka The Forstye Saga)
  • 1950: The Miniver Story
  • 1951: The Law and the Lady; Julius Caesar
  • 1953: Scandal at Scourie
  • 1954: Her Twelve Men
  • 1955: Strange Lady in Town
  • 1958: Auntie Mame, Nina Garson dies
  • 1960: Sunrise at Campobello*; Pepe
  • 1966: The Singing Nun
  • 1967: The Happiest Millionaire
  • 1981: Fogelsons receive Conservation Service Award from the Department of the Interior
  • 1987: Buddy Fogelson dies in Dallas, Texas
  • 1993: Named a Commander of the British Empire
  • April 6, 1996: Dies in Dallas, Texas
  • *=Nominated for Best Actress
  • +=Awarded Best Actress

From the guide to the Greer Garson Papers, ca. 1880 - 1996, (Jerry Bywaters Special Collections, Jake and Nancy Hamon Arts Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University)


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  • Motion picture actors and actresses--United States
  • Motion picture actors and actresses


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  • United States (as recorded)