Cinema's blitz heroine Greer Garson dies at 92

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The Independent Online
GREER GARSON, the Oscar-winning star of the film Mrs Miniver - credited with converting the American public to support for the Second World War - died yesterday of heart failure at the age of 92.

Born in County Down, Northern Ireland, Greer Garson first worked as an actress in provincial rep and the London stage before being spotted by MGM boss Louis Mayer in a West End production. But she first made her mark in the 1939 British film Goodbye, Mr Chips opposite Robert Donat. It brought her a first Oscar nomination, and a role opposite Laurence Olivier in Pride and Prejudice.

It was then that she embarked on films in which she embodied ladylike appeal, loyalty and dutiful sacrifice. Her movies included Blossoms in the Dust, When Ladies Meet, Random Harvest and Madame Curie. She secured seven Oscar nominations in all - a record bettered only by Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Geraldine Page.

But it was in Sidney Franklin's Mrs Miniver, the 1942 drama about a British housewife guiding her family through the bombings of the war, that she became an Allied icon, providing a sentimental exposition of the need for the conflict. In peacetime her popularity waned, but she made a comeback in 1960, playing Eleanor Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello.

She married her third husband, the oilman E E "Buddy" Fogelson, in 1947; the marriage lasted until his death in 1987.

In later years she made her mark as a philanthropist, donating millions to colleges and other institutions. Among her grants was one for the $10m Greer Garson Theater and film archive at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

When Miss Garson lost many of her personal belongings - including her Oscar trophy - in a Los Angeles fire in the late 1980s, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences stepped in and gave her a replacement statuette.

In a 1990 interview, she deplored the violence of modern films. "I think the mirror should be tilted slightly upward when it's reflecting life - toward the cheerful, the tender, the compassionate, the brave, the funny, the encouraging, all those things - and not tilted down to the gutter part of the time, into the troubled vistas of conflict," she said.