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Barbara Bel Geddes, RIP

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#1 dirac


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Posted 10 August 2005 - 11:09 AM

Barbara Bel Geddes, the original Maggie the Cat and latterly Miss Ellie of "Dallas" has died, age 82. Lovely lady. I always thought James Stewart was silly to chase Kim Novak around San Francisco when he had Barbara right there......


Bel Geddes was born on Halloween in 1922 in New York City. Raised by theatrical designer Norman Bel Geddes, she began her stage career at 18 and hit Broadway a year later. She made her film debut opposite Henry Fonda and Vincent Price in 1947's "The Long Night" and in 1948 she gained attention and an Oscar nomination for her role in "I Remember Mama."

Will post a more detailed obit as they come in.... :flowers:

#2 dirac


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Posted 10 August 2005 - 12:58 PM

The Associated Press obituary, by Bob Thomas. I should note, since Thomas doesn’t, that the blacklist abbreviated Bel Geddes’ Hollywood career even more definitively than Howard Hughes – she was off the screen for years until “Vertigo” in ’58. She was also the original “professional virgin” of the play “The Moon is Blue,” also unmentioned here.


"I went out to California awfully young," she remarked. "I remember Lillian Hellman and Elia Kazan telling me, 'Don't go, learn your craft.' But I loved films." After four movies, Howard Hughes, who had bought control of RKO in 1948, dropped her contract because "she wasn't sexy enough."

Bel Geddes was devastated. But it turned out to be a good happenstance. She had time to return to the stage, and she scored a triumph in 1955 as Maggie the Cat in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
Yet her biggest Broadway success was "Mary, Mary," a frothy marital comedy by Jean Kerr, which opened in 1961 and ran for more than 1,500 performances.

#3 richard53dog


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Posted 10 August 2005 - 04:47 PM

She also starred in a Broadway comedy Luv, later in the 60s, which had a decent run (I saw her in this)

Her father Norman was a noted stage designer


#4 miliosr


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Posted 11 August 2005 - 08:48 AM

Loved her as Miss Ellie!

Many of her Dallas castmates were quoted in today's USA Today and, apparently, she became something of a recluse after Dallas ended. The paper quotes Victoria Principal (Pamela Barnes Ewing) as saying that she tried to see Bel Geddes several times in the intervening years but that she (Bel Geddes) preferred to remain reclusive.

It's been a bad year for Dallas fans -- didn't Howard Keel (who played Miss Ellie's second husband, Clayton Farlow) die this year as well?

#5 PetipaFan



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Posted 11 August 2005 - 10:48 AM

Howard Keel died Sunday November 7, 2004 at 85 from colon cancer.

I didn't ever watch Dallas much (I still don't know who shot JR) but I'll never forget the easygoing, soothing voice of Bel Geddes. As a matter of fact she is the only character from the show that made a lasting impression on me. RIP

#6 dirac


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Posted 11 August 2005 - 04:46 PM

Donna Reed replaced her as Miss Ellie for awhile. She was awful.

You wouldn't think of Bel Geddes as obvious casting for Maggie the Cat. So often the role goes to a sexpot a/o glamourpuss. Kazan didn't want that, though. He saw that the key to the role was sexual insecurity, not confidence, and he wanted an attractive girl who could convey that unsureness. (Unlike, say, Elizabeth Taylor.)

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