|This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2007)|
in the trailer for Dramatic School (1938)
|Born||Edith Holm Sondergaard
February 15, 1899
Litchfield, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||August 14, 1985
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
|Cremated, Ashes scattered into the Pacific Ocean|
|Spouse(s)||Neill O'Malley (1922–1930) (divorced)
Herbert J. Biberman (1930–1971) (his death) 2 children
Gale Sondergaard (February 15, 1899 – August 14, 1985) was an American actress.
Sondergaard began her acting career in theater, and progressed to films in 1936. She was the first recipient of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her film debut in Anthony Adverse (1936). She played supporting roles in various films during the late 1930s and early 1940s, including The Cat and the Canary (1939), The Mark of Zorro (1940) and The Letter (1940). She was nominated for a second Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Anna and the King of Siam (1946) but by the end of the decade her film appearances were fewer.
Married to the director Herbert Biberman, Sondergaard supported him when he was accused of communism and named as one of the Hollywood Ten in the early 1950s, and her film career was destroyed as a result. She moved with Biberman to New York City and worked in theatre, and acted in film and television occasionally from late 1960s. She moved back to Los Angeles where she died from cerebrovascular thrombosis.
She was born Edith Holm Sondergaard in Litchfield, Minnesota to Danish-American parents, Hans and Christin (Holm) Sondergaard. She studied acting at the Minneapolis School of Dramatic Arts before joining the John Keller Shakespeare Company. She later toured North America in productions of Hamlet, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, and Macbeth. Her younger sister Hester Sondergaard was also an actress.
Sondergaard made her first film appearance in Anthony Adverse (1936) as "Faith Paleologue" and became the first recipient of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for this performance. Her career as an actress flourished during the 1930s, and included a role opposite Paul Muni in The Life of Emile Zola (1937).
During pre-production of MGM's classic The Wizard of Oz (1939), an early idea was to have the Wicked Witch of the West portrayed as a slinky, glamorous villainess in a black sequined costume, inspired by the Wicked Queen in Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Sondergaard was originally cast as the witch in "Oz" and was photographed for two wardrobe tests, both of which survive. One was as a glamorous wicked witch, and another as a conventionally ugly wicked witch. After the decision was made to have an ugly wicked witch, Sondergaard, reluctant to wear the disfiguring makeup and fearing it could damage her career, withdrew from the role, and it went to veteran character actress Margaret Hamilton. Sondergaard was, however, cast as the sultry and slinky Tylette (a magically humanized, but devious, cat) in 1940s The Blue Bird — Fox's answer to Oz.
In 1940, she played the role of the exotic and sinister wife in The Letter, supporting Bette Davis. She received a second Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her role as the King's principal wife in Anna and the King of Siam in 1946.
Sondergaard was first married in 1922 to actor Neill O'Malley; they divorced in 1930. On 15 May 1930, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she married her second husband, Herbert Biberman, a theater director then associated with the Theatre Guild Acting Company; he became a film director and died in 1971. They had two children, Daniel Hans Biberman and Mrs. Joan Campos.
Sondergaard's career suffered irreparable damage during the Red Scare of the early 1950s, when her husband was accused of being a communist and named as one of the Hollywood Ten. (In the 2000 movie One of the Hollywood Ten, Sondergaard was portrayed by actress Greta Scacchi while Jeff Goldblum was cast as Biberman.) With her career stalled, she supported her husband during the production of Salt of the Earth (1954).
Highly controversial when it was made, and not a commercial success, its artistic and cultural merit was recognized in 1992 when the National Film Preservation Board selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. One of the Hollywood Ten (2000) chronicled Sondergaard's relationship with Biberman and her role in the making of Salt of the Earth. The Bibermans sold their home in Hollywood shortly after they completed Salt of the Earth, and moved to New York where Sondergaard was able to work in theatre.
|1936||Anthony Adverse||Faith Paleologus||first recipient of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1937||Maid of Salem||Martha Harding|
|Seventh Heaven||Nana, Diane's Sister|
|The Life of Emile Zola||Lucie Dreyfus|
|1938||Lord Jeff||Doris Clandon|
|Dramatic School||Madame Therese Charlot|
|1939||Never Say Die||Juno Marko|
|Sons of Liberty||Rachel Salomon|
|The Cat and the Canary||Miss Lu|
|The Llano Kid||Lora Travers|
|1940||The Blue Bird||Tylette (the cat)|
|The Mark of Zorro||Inez Quintero|
|The Letter||Mrs. Hammond|
|1941||The Black Cat||Abigail Doone|
|1942||My Favorite Blonde||Madame Stephanie Runick|
|Enemy Agents Meet Ellery Queen||Mrs. Van Dorn|
|1943||A Night to Remember||Mrs. Devoe|
|Appointment in Berlin||Gretta Van Leyden|
|Isle of Forgotten Sins||Marge Willison|
|The Strange Death of Adolf Hitler||Anna Huber|
|Crazy House||uncredited cameo performance|
|1944||The Spider Woman||Adrea Spedding|
|Follow the Boys||herself|
|Christmas Holiday||Mrs. Monette|
|The Invisible Man's Revenge||Lady Irene Herrick|
|Enter Arsène Lupin||Bessie Seagrave|
|1946||The Spider Woman Strikes Back||Zenobia Dollard|
|Night in Paradise||Queen Attossa|
|Anna and the King of Siam||Lady Thiang||nominated Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|The Time of Their Lives||Emily|
|1947||Pirates of Monterey||Señorita De Sola|
|Road to Rio||Catherine Vail|
|1949||East Side, West Side||Nora Kernan|
|Slaves||New Orleans lady|
|It Takes a Thief||Madame Olga Millard||TV, episode "The Scorpio Drop"|
|1970||Get Smart||Hester Van Hooten||TV, episode "Rebecca of Funny-Folk Farm"|
|The Best of Everything||Amanda Key||TV|
|1971||Night Gallery||Abigail Moore||TV, episode "The Dark Boy"|
|The Bold Ones: The Lawyers||Mrs. Marley||TV, episode "The Letter of the Law"|
|1973||The Cat Creature||Hester Black||TV|
|1974||Medical Center||Myra||TV, episode "Adults Only"|
|Nakia||TV, episode "The Quarry"|
|Police Story||Marge White||TV, episode "A World Full of Hurt"|
|1976||Ryan's Hope||Marguerite Beaulac||TV, 6 episodes|
|The Return of a Man Called Horse||Elk Woman|
|Hollywood on Trial||herself||documentary|
|1977||Visions||Ora Drummond||TV, episode "Pleasantville"|
|1978||Centennial||Aunt Augusta||TV mini series|
|1981||The Fall Guy||Mrs. Jackson||TV, episode "The Human Torch"|
- "A Theatre Guild Wedding: Gale Sondergaard, Actress, Bride of H. J. Biberman, Executive", The New York Times, May 16, 1930
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gale Sondergaard.|
- Gale Sondergaard at the Internet Movie Database
- Gale Sondergaard at the Internet Broadway Database
- Gale Sondergaard at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Gale Sondergaard at Find a Grave