TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (6)
|Also Known As:||William Joseph Shields||Died:||January 4, 1961|
|Born:||March 10, 1888||Cause of Death:||complications from brain surgery|
|Birth Place:||Dublin, IE||Profession:||Cast ... actor bookkeeping clerk|
Going from being one of the leading comedic performers of Ireland's highly respected Abbey Theatre to a second career as a much loved actor on the silver screen, Barry Fitzgerald did not adopt acting as a profession until middle age, but achieved far more in the next 30 years than most of his stage and screen colleagues. Establishing himself as a venerable and diverse character performer via his work in dozens of stage plays at home and on tour with the Abbey Players, Fitzgerald was soon appearing in movies based on his stage successes and quickly developed a reputation in this medium as an able performer. However, he scaled unexpected heights when cast as an irascible old Catholic priest in the Bing Crosby vehicle, "Going My Way" (1944), which earned him new levels of respect within the movie industry and notoriety with audiences. From that point on, he often played characters of differing profession but similar stripe: old, petulant and loveable. With his plucky demeanour, mischievous smile, natural warmth and soft brogue, the 5'3" Dublin native attained a level of fame unheard of for a character actor and became the only performer in Academy Awards history to receive Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominations for the same character in the same film.
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