Patricia Collinge

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Patricia Collinge
Patricia Collinge in trailer for The Little Foxes (1941)
Born Eileen Cecilia Collinge
(1892-09-20)September 20, 1892
Dublin, Ireland
Died April 10, 1974(1974-04-10) (aged 81)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1904–1967
Spouse(s) James Nichols Smith (1921–1974; her death)

Patricia Collinge (September 20, 1892 – April 10, 1974) was an Irish-American actress and writer, best known for her role as the tragic alcoholic "Birdie Hubbard" in The Little Foxes.

Early life[edit]

Eileen Cecilia Collinge was born in Dublin, Ireland to F. Channon Collinge and Emmie (née Russell) Collinge. She was educated first by a visiting governess and then at a girls' school. She took dancing and piano lessons none of which interested her. She finally settled on being an actress. She made her first stage appearance at age 12 at the Garrick Theatre (London) on December 21, 1904, as a Chinese doll in a Little Black Sambo. Her first New York stage appearance was on December 7, 1908 in The Queen of the Moulin Rouge.[1]

Theatre actress[edit]

Her first stage performance was at the Garrick Theatre, London in 1904 in Little Black Sambo and Little White Barbara. She went to America with her mother in 1907. She appeared as a "flower girl" in The Queens of the Moulin Rouge. Collinge began as one of the supporting players in The Thunderbolt, which starred Louis Calvert as James Mortimer. The theatrical entertainment dealt with a country family in "Singlehampton, England". The production was staged at the New Theatre (Century Theatre).

She was in Everywoman at the Herald Square Theatre in March 1911. The title role was played by Laura Nelson Hall.[2] She acted alongside Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Amelia Bingham and William Henry Crane in The New Henrietta, a modern play based on a comedy by Bronson Howard. It was produced at the Knickerbocker Theatre on Broadway in December 1913. Collinge played Agnes, the ward of Crane's character Van Alstyne. She marries Bertie, played by Fairbanks. In 1914 she again appeared with Douglas Fairbanks in the play He Comes Up Smiling, where she and Fairbanks have a memorable scene as a cute couple in a park.[3]

Collinge toured in A Regular Businessman, was the original Pollyanna Whittier in Polyanna, and toured with Tillie in 1919 after a successful two years performing Pollyanna. In 1932 Collinge appeared in Autumn Crocus. Her acting was acclaimed by a New York Times critic, who said of her: "Miss Collinge plays with the soft, pliant sincerity that makes her one of the most endearing actresses."[citation needed]

She was in the Broadway cast of The Little Foxes with Tallulah Bankhead in 1939, playing the role of the tragic Birdie Hubbard. In 1941, she played the same part in the motion picture version, which starred Bette Davis. Other stage work includes roles in productions of The Heiress, Just Suppose, The Dark Angel, The Importance of Being Earnest, To See Ourselves, and Lady With A Lamp. Her final stage appearance came at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in December 1952, in I've Got Sixpence.[4]

Film career[edit]

Collinge debuted in film in 1941 in The Little Foxes, reprising her stage role as Birdie Hubbard, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Other films include Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Tender Comrade (1943), and The Nun's Story (1959).

According to the featurette included in the DVD of Shadow of a Doubt, Collinge actually rewrote the scene between Teresa Wright and MacDonald Carey in the garage. At the time, director Alfred Hitchcock and the actors were reportedly unhappy with the dialogue as written and Collinge rewrote it. Hitchcock was reported to be delighted and used her rewrite. She also reportedly worked with Alma Reville (Hitchcock's wife) and Ben Hecht on the screenplay for Hitchcock's next film, Lifeboat (1944), starring her former co-star Tallulah Bankhead.[5]


Collinge appeared in four episodes of the popular anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–61). In one, entitled "The Cheney Vase", she memorably stole her scenes as an ailing philanthropist kept hostage in her own home who outwits the scheming duo of Darren McGavin and Ruta Lee attempting an art theft. She also appeared in other television dramas including, Laramie (1961). The United States Steel Hour (1962), East Side/West Side (1963), two further episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962–64), and N.Y.P.D. (1967).[5]


She wrote the play Dame Nature (1938), which was an adaptation of a French drama by André Birabeau. Collinge penned The Small Mosaics of Mr. and Mrs. Engel, a story of travel in Italy, for which she received a gold medal from the Italian government.

With Margalo Gillmore, she co-authored The B.O.W.S., a play about the American Theatre Wing unit which performed The Barretts of Wimpole Street to soldiers in Italy and France during World War II. She wrote a series of short stories for the New Yorker and contributed to the New York Times Book Review. She was a councilor [clarification needed] of Actors Equity.

Personal life[edit]

Collinge married James Nichols Smith, an investment counselor, on June 10, 1921. The marriage lasted many decades but produced no children. She died in 1974 in Manhattan, aged 81, following a heart attack.[5]



  1. ^ GREAT STARS OF THE AMERICAN STAGE by Daniel Blum c. 1952 Profile #115
  2. ^ PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN THEATRE by Daniel Blum c. 1953 (1970 reprint & update), pp. 123, 126
  3. ^ PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN THEATRE by Daniel Blum c. 1953 (1970 update), pg. 147.
  4. ^ Patricia Collinge at the Internet Broadway Database
  5. ^ a b c Patricia Collinge at the Internet Movie Database


  • "All About The Winsome Actress Seen In Tillie". Iowa Citizen. December 29, 1919. p. 6. 
  • "Many New Plays Bid For Favor". New York Times. November 6, 1910. p. X1. 
  • "News and Comment of the Stage". New York Times. March 12, 1911. p. X2. 
  • "Crane at Knickerbocker December 22, 1913". New York Times. December 6, 1913. p. 11. 
  • "Patricia Collinge, 81, Actress In Many Leading Plays, Dies". New York Times. April 11, 1974. p. 38. 

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