Arthur Shields


1896-1970 [‘Boss’ Shields]; b. 15 Feb. 1896, Portobello, Dublin; son of Adolphus Shields, a Protestant labour organizer and contrib. to The Freeman’s Journal; and yngr br. of Barry Fitzgerald [Will Shields]; joined Abbey as an actor, 1914; served as an Volunteer in the GPO, and was one of the last to surrender in his garrison in Henry Street, 1916; interned in Frongoch and afterwards returned to the Abbey, as the ‘handsome lead’, and where he also directed some plays; managed the Abbey’s American tours in the 1930s - meeting John Ford in Hollywood; played in The Informer (1935) and invited by Ford to appear in the film version of O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars (1936), filmed in Hollywood;

subsequently appeared in several Ford films incl. the Reverend Playfair in The Quiet Man (1952), with John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and his br. Barry, based on Maurice Walsh’s story, and filmed in Galway in 1951; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), as Dr. Laughlin, also with Wayne and Joanne Dhru, Long Voyage Home, also with Wayne, anddirected three direct Paul Vincent Carroll plays on Broadway in the late 1930s; How Green Was My Valley (1941), Ford’s film of Richard Llewellyn’s mining novel, alongside Walter Pidgeon and Maureen O’Hara;

also appeared in Little Nellie Kelly; The Keys of the Kingdom; The Fabulous Dorseys; Gallant Journey; The Shocking Miss Pilgrim; Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), with Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert; Lady Godiva; National Velvet (1944); The River (dir. Jean Renoir 1951), set in India; Pride of the Blue Grass (1954), and The River of No Return (1954), with Marilyn Monroe; appeared as Dr. George Barnes in The Case of the Screaming Woman, an episode in the Perry Mason Series, 1958;

thrice married, to Basie McGee [Morgan] (1920-1943), Aideen [prop. Una] O’Connor (1943-1950), and Laurie Bailey, a journalist, m.1955, with whom 2 children; Christine Shields was his dg. by O’Connor; suffered from emphysema in later years; d. Santa Barbara, at home, 27 April 1970, [aetat. 74]; there is a portrait by Seán O’Sullivan in black carbon pencil, 1952, held at Abbey Theatre, Dublin; bur. Deansgrange Cemetary, Dublin; 14 boxes of Shields family papers are held in the Hardiman Library of NUI Galway (as T14); he was the subject of an exhibition entitled “Actor and Rebel: A Life in Pictures” (June 2012). DIB

[ top ]

See Adrian Frazier, Hollywood Irish: John Ford, Abbey Actors and the Irish Revival in Hollywood (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2011).

[ top ]