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Patricia Collinge

Biography | Filmography | Awards | Bibliography | Downloads | Links | Image Credits | SHADOW OF A DOUBT | THE LITTLE FOXES

EILEEN CECILIA COLLINGE was born in Dublin, Ireland on September 20, 1892 to Fredrick Channon Collinge, a church music composer and musical director, and his wife, Emmie Russell.  A frequent theatergoer in her youth, thanks to her father's profession, Collinge developed a penchant for acting and made her professional stage debut on December 21, 1904 at the age of ten at London's Garrick Theatre, playing a Chinese doll in "Little Black Sambo."

In August 1915, Collinge achieved one of her greatest stage successes, opening in Chicago in the title role of "Pollyanna" with which she toured across the United States for three years, earning the nickname "The Original 'Glad' Girl."  In 1919, her performance in the title role of "Tillie" finally earned her stardom.  On June 10, 1921, Collinge married James Nichols Smith, an investment counselor, and she continued appearing on stage in the United States through 1935 when she left acting to pursue writing.

Between 1935 and 1959, Collinge's insightful short stories appeared frequently in such publications as Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.  In 1938 the Theatre Guild commissioned Collinge to adapt the French play "Dame Nature" by André Birabeau, and in 1945 Collinge published her first book, The B.O.W.S.: The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

In 1939, Collinge returned to the stage as Aunt Birdie in Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes" starring Tallulah Bankhead, and in 1941 she succeeded Josephine Hull as one of the Brewster sisters in "Arsenic and Old Lace."  Also in 1941, Collinge traveled to Hollywood to reprise her performance in William Wyler's film adaptation of THE LITTLE FOXES, this time starring Bette Davis, and earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her efforts.  In her second film, Alfred Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943), Collinge gave another excellent performance as the unsuspecting sister of a murderer, and also made writing contributions to the script at the request of star Teresa Wright who felt uncomfortable with the approach to some of the romantic elements in the material.  

After two more film appearances, TENDER COMRADE (1943) with Ginger Rogers and CASANOVA BROWN (1944) with Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright, Collinge returned to New York, her writing, and the stage.  She appeared in "The Heiress" on Broadway in 1947 and subsequently on tour through 1949.  She continued theatre acting with a role in "The Curious Savage" (1951), and in 1952, made her final stage appearance in "I've Got Sixpence."

Collinge returned to the big screen in 1951 in Fred Zinnemann's TERESA, and in 1952 appeared in WASHINGTON STORY with Van Johnson and Patricia Neal.  She made a number of television appearances in the 1950s and 1960s, guest starring on episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The U.S. Steel Hour."  In 1959 Collinge made her final film appearance in Fred Zinnemann's THE NUN'S STORY starring Audrey Hepburn, and that same year, a collection of her short stories from The New Yorker entitled The Small Mosaic of Mr. and Mrs. Engel was published as a book.  She died of a heart attack on April 10, 1974 at the age of 81.

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Last updated: March 10, 2011.
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