Sara Allgood

1883-1950, actress; b. Dublin, 31 Oct., sis. Molly Allgood; raised in a Dublin orphanage following death of her father; apprenticed as upholsterer (his profession); joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann [Daughters of Ireland] (founded by Maud Gonne MacBride in 1900); appeared in Cathleen Ni Houlihan, 1902; joined Irish National Dramatic Society, 1903, playing Princess Buan in Yeats’s The King’s Threshold; Cathleen in Riders to the Sea, 1904, creating the character of Maurya by basing her mannerisms on her own grandmother; brought Riders to Belfast with the Abbey; joined the Abbey Theatre in 1904; played Mrs. Fallon in Lady Gregory’s Spreading of the News, 27 Dec. 1904; Mrs Delane in Lady Gregory’s Hyacinth Halvey, 1906; Widow Quin in Playboy, 1907; played Isabella in William Poel’s prod. Measure for Measure for Miss Horniman in Manchester; joined John Hartley Manner’s touring company and enjoyed great success with sentimental play, Peg o’ My Heart, 1915; m. leading man Gerald Henson 1916; toured Australia and New Zealand, where both he and her only child, a girl, died of the influenza, the father a year after the child; brother Frank killed on the Western Front; made her first film in Sydney, 1918; returned to Europe and played Mrs Geoghegan in 1920 revival of Lennox Robinson’s The White-Headed Boy; played Juno and Bessie Burgess in O’Casey’s Juno and The Plough successfully in Ireland, England, and America, 1924-1926; elected to Dublin Arts Club, 1923; played Bessie Burgess in the Plough and the Stars, 1924; and Mrs Boyle in the London premier of Juno and the Paycock in 1925, opposite Arthur Sinclair; appeared in Hitchcock’s first ‘talkie’ Blackmail, 1929, and in his Juno and the Paycock, 1930, issued in America as The Sins of Mary Boyle; successful as Honoria Flanagan in Bridie’s Storm in a Teacup, London 1936; last appeared on stage in New York, 1940; stayed on in Hollywood after the 1940 tour, and appeared in How Green Was My Valley, dir. John Ford (1940, Academy Award film); became US citizen; died in poverty at Woodland Hills, California, 13 Sept. DIB DIL FDA DIH OCIL

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Dawson Byrne, The Story of Ireland’s National Theatre: The Abbey Theatre (Dublin & Cork: Talbot Press 1929; facs. rep. NY: Haskell 1971), [infra]; Máire Ní Shuibhlaigh, The Splendid Years (Dublin: J. Duffy 1955), p. 85 [infra]; Elizabeth Coxhead, Daughters of Erin: Five Women of the Irish Renascence (London: Secker & Warburg, 1965; Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1979); Fintan O’Toole, ‘Going West, the Country Versus the City in Irish Writing’, Crane Bag, Vol. 9. No. 2 (1985), pp.111-16; Patricia Boylan, All Cultivated People, A History of the United Arts Club (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1988), pp. 129-30, 144, 149 [infra].

See also A. E. Twomey and A. F. McClure, The Versatiles: A Study of Supporting Character Actors and Actresses in the American Motion Picture, 1930-1955 (London: Thomas Yoseloff, 1969); John T. Weaver, ed., Forty Years of Screen Credits, 1929-1969 (Metuchen: Scarecrow Press 1970) p57ff.; David Ragan, Who’s Who in Hollywood, 1900-1976 (NY: Arlington House 1976) p.539ff.; James Robert Parish, Hollywood Character Actors. (Westport: Arlington House, 1978); Felice Levy, ed., Obituaries on File (NY: Facts on File 1979); Evelyn Mack Truitt. Who Was Who on Screen (NY: R. R. Bowker Co., 1983); Biography Index: A Cumulative Index to Biographical Material in Books and Magazines (NY: H.W. Wilson Co., 1953-1992), Vol. 2 (August 1949-August 1952); Vol. 7 (Sept. 1964-Aug. 1967); Vol. 17 (Sept. 1990-August 1992).

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W. B. Yeats, “Journal”, in Memoir, ed. Denis Donoghue (London: Macmillan 1972): ‘I also notice some slackness in Miss Allgood’s rehearsals. I noticed the same in Fay’s. All these young people are the fist generation in their families to do intellectual work, and though with strong, fresh and simple imagination and unspoiled taste, prolonged application is difficult to them. They have no acquired faculties. Most of them are naturally stweet-tempered, but they have no control over their tempers once they are aroused. Miss Allgood, for instance, cannot distinguish between necessary reproof of some actor and anger [182] against him; this injures her authority. The reverse is of course true; one should find fault as little as possible when angry.’ (10 March 1909; p.182-83.)

Dawson Byrne, The Story of Ireland’s National Theatre: The Abbey Theatre (Dublin: Talbot 1929; NY: Haskell 1971): ‘Miss Allgood, by request of the directors, took over charge of the company … there may not be found any record of Miss Allgood’s name connected with the management of the company whether on playbills or programmes, but this is entirely due to Miss Allgood’s modesty, as she objected absolutely to having her name printed as one in such a capacity. But in going through the records I found such to be a fact and express a wish here that Miss Sara Allgood will let this stand as history’ .[q.p.]

Máire Ní Shuibhlaigh, The Splendid Years (Dublin: J. Duffy 1955), writes: ‘One remembers too the jaunty Widow Quinn, Sara Allgood, her bright eyes, and rich, gurgling laughter’ (p. 82).

Patricia Boylan, All Cultivated People, a History of the United Arts Club (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1988), quotes Maurice Headlam’s recollection of her at a farewell dinner for the Abbey Company before its departure for the USA, sang ‘sitting, without accompaniment, but quite truly, the most fascinating ballads ... not a stage voice but full and pure and true, especially in the lower notes’ [pp. 129-30]; Sara elected to Dublin Arts Club, 1923 [p. 144]; entertainments by Sara Allgood and her students at the Club in 1924 [p. 149].

Peg of My Heart returned to the Gaiety Th., Dublin, shortly after the 25 March 1923; see Nathan Halper, ‘The Date of Earwicker’s Dream’, in Jack P. Dalton & Clive Hart, eds., Twelve and a Tilly: Essays on the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of Finnegans Wake (London: Faber & Faber 1966), p.86.

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