Herta Ware

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Herta Ware
Herta Schwartz

June 9, 1917
DiedAugust 15, 2005 (aged 88)
Years active1930s–? (stage)
1978–2000 (film & television)
Spouse(s)Will Geer (1934–1954; divorced; 3 children)
David Marshall (divorced; 1 child)
ChildrenKate Geer
Chad Geer
Ellen Geer
Melora Marshall

Herta Ware (June 9, 1917 – August 15, 2005) was an American actress and political activist.

Early life[edit]

Ware was born Herta Schwartz in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Helen Ware, a musician and violin teacher, and Lazlo Schwartz, an actor who was born in Budapest.[1] Her mother's brother was activist Harold Ware and her maternal grandmother was labor organizer and socialist Ella Reeve Bloor. Her father was Jewish and her mother was Christian.[2]


Ware made her Broadway debut in Let Freedom Ring (November 6, 1935–February 1936), co-starring husband Will Geer, whom she had married in 1934. The couple appeared together in other New York plays, including Bury the Dead (1936), Prelude (1936), 200 Were Chosen (1936) and Journeyman (1938), and Six O'Clock Theatre (1948), all of which were short-lived.

She made her on-screen debut in 1978, when she appeared in the television film, A Question of Guilt. Subsequently, she appeared in her first feature film 1980, The Black Marble. Her second feature film was Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype, which featured Oliver Reed. She starred in 2010 in 1984. She is perhaps most recognized for her performance in the classic film Ron Howard's Cocoon, and appeared in the sequel Cocoon: The Return. She appeared in Critters 2: The Main Course as "Nana". She had roles in several other well-known films such as, Species, Practical Magic, with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, and Cruel Intentions, with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Philippe. Her role in the 1992 television film Crazy in Love earned her a CableACE Award for Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries.[citation needed]

Ware has made many guest appearances on classic television series including, Knots Landing, Highway to Heaven, Cagney & Lacey, The Golden Girls and ER, to name a few. She and her daughter, Ellen both made guest appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Beauty and the Beast.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

In 1934, Ware married actor Will Geer, with whom she had three children. She and Geer were politically-minded and relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1940s and settled in Santa Monica so that Geer could pursue his movie career. In 1951, the passionately left-wing Geer became blacklisted by Hollywood for taking the Fifth Amendment and refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. With Geer's film career destroyed, and falling into financial difficulties, the couple lost their Los Angeles home. The pair divorced in 1954 but remained close friends. Ware later married actor David Marshall, with whom she had one child, a daughter, actress Melora Marshall. They later divorced. Ware and Geer reunited in 1973 and subsequently co-founded the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, which was on five acres of land that Ware purchased in Topanga Canyon for $10,000. The burgeoning theater officially opened as a summer theater in 1973. She stayed by Geer's bedside as he died of a respiratory ailment in 1978. In 2000, Ware published her own memoir Fantastic Journey, My Life with Will Geer.


Ware died in 2005, due to complications of Parkinson's disease, aged 88, in Topanga, California. Her ashes and those of her husband, Will Geer, were scattered at their outdoor theatre.[citation needed]



Title Year Role Directed by Notes
The Black Marble 1980 Grand Duchess
Harold Becker
Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype Old Lady on Bus
Charles B. Griffith
2010 1984 Jessie Bowman
Peter Hyams
Cocoon 1985 Rosie Lefkowitz
Ron Howard
Slam Dance 1987 Mrs. Raines
Wayne Wang
Promised Land Mrs. Higgins
Michael Hoffman
Dirty Laundry Grandmother Verna
William Webb
Critters 2: The Main Course 1988 Nana
Mick Garris
Cocoon: The Return Rose Lefkowitz
Daniel Petrie
Dakota Aunt Zard
Fred Holmes
Soapdish 1991 Old Woman
Michael Hoffman
Lonely Hearts Gran
Andrew Lane
Race Against Tomorrow
Top Dog 1995 Wilder's Mother
Aaron Norris
Species Mrs. Morris
Roger Donaldson
St. Patrick's Day 1997 Aunt Delia
Hope Perello
Practical Magic 1998 Old Lady Wilkes
Griffin Dunne
The Politics of Desire The Radio Listener
Petrie Alexandra
Cruel Intentions 1999 Mrs. Sugarman
Roger Kumble
Held Up Alice
Steve Rash
Beautiful 2000 Clara
Sally Field
Desperate But Not Serious Grammy
Bill Fishman
(final film role)


Title Year Role Notes
Knots Landing 1983 Ethel Marcus Season 5, episode 14 "Secrets Cry Aloud"
Highway to Heaven 1984 Grandma Season 1, episode 13 "Another Song for Christmas"
Wildside 1985 Mrs. Brinkenhoff Season 1, episode 1 "Well-Known Secret" (pilot)
Scarecrow and Mrs. King Season 3, episode 3 "Over the Limit"
Crossings 1986 Mrs. Emma Zimmerman Television mini-series; episode 1
Amazing Stories Grandma Helen Season 1, episode 24 "Grandpa's Ghost" (season finale)
Sidekicks Mamie Season 1, episode 12 "Grey Belts"
Crime Story 1987 Old Lady Season 1, episode 19 "The Pinnacle"
Beauty and the Beast Sylvia Season 1, episode 3 "Siege"
Star Trek: The Next Generation Yvette Picard Season 1, episode 6 "Where No One Has Gone Before"
Cagney & Lacey 1988 Wilma Milton Season 7, episode 10 "Old Flames"
The Golden Girls Ida Season 4, episode 8 "Brother, Can You Spare That Jacket?"
Just the Ten of Us 1989 Sister Cyril Season 2, episode 10 "Song of Constance"
The Munsters Today 1990 The Widow Johansen Season 2, episode 24 "That's Gratitude" (season finale)
The New Adam-12 1991 Claire Season 1, episode 20 "221 Pizza"
Eerie, Indiana Mary B. Carter Season 1, episode 8 "The Dead Letter"
Civil Wars 1992 Alma Gough Season 2, episode 3 "Oboe Phobia"
ER 1994 Mrs. Franks Season 1, episode 2 "Day One"
Misery Loves Company 1995 Old Hildy Season 1, episode 5 "The Witches of East 6th" (unaired episode)
Tracy takes on... 1996 Ida Levitz Season 1, episode 6 "Law"
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction 19982000 Old Woman Season 2, episode 9 (story 3 - "The Getaway")
Season 3, episode 3 ("The Find", "The Golden Cue", "The FBI Story", "The Gravedigger's Nemesis" & "Last Rites" - all 5 stories from #3.3)

Television films[edit]

Title Year Role Notes
A Question of Guilt 1978 Miriam's Mother
Child's Cry 1986 Mrs. Hartounian
Miracle Landing 1990 Dorothy Hendricks
Crazy in Love 1992 Pem CableAce Award for Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
Alien Nation: Millennium 1996 Alana
Co-ed Call Girl Customer

Other appearances[edit]

  • Medieval Theater: The Play of Abraham and Isaac ... Mary Pink, Mother (short documentary) (1974)
  • Woody Guthrie: Hard Travelin' (documentary) (1984)
  • When Jesus Was a Kid (video short) (1993)


  1. ^ "Descendants of Henry Lewis Stephens and Charlotte Ann Wevill". Wargs.com. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  2. ^ "Theatricum Opens a Controversy — and a New Space — With Rachel Corrie ‹ @ This Stage". Lastagetimes.com. 2011-08-29. Retrieved 2016-10-15.

External links[edit]