Family & Companions
A celebrated actress, particularly noted for her interpretations of Queen Gertrude in "Hamlet," Eileen Herlie has primarily been delighting daytime viewers for more than 20 years as the irrepressible, no-nonsense and down-to-earth carny woman turned boutique owner and boarding house proprietress Myrtle Lum Fargate on ABC's "All My Children." Herlie first joined the daytime drama in 1976, playing the former variety performer who arrives in the fictional Pine Valley looking to start a new life. Shunned by some, she recognizes a man who had been wining and dining the town's doyenne, Phoebe Tyler, as a former petty thief. The storyline which ensued endeared her to all, yet after an initial few years on the show, her character was married off and written out of the show. But, Herlie had become so popular that the producers brought her back as a widow, and she has since dispensed good cheer and common sense, even befriending Erica Kane (Susan Lucci).
Few who watch her on "All My Children" are aware of her illustrious stage and film career. The petite Glaswegian honed her craft on stage with the Scottish National Theatre and first garnered attention in Jean Cocteau's play "The Eagle Has Two Heads." She graced several Broadway musicals, most notably "Take Me Along" (1959), alongside Jackie Gleason and Walter Pidgeon, and "All American" (1962), opposite Ray Bolger. After a couple of films, Laurence Olivier cast Herlie as Queen Gertrude in his 1948 film version of "Hamlet"; that she was a dozen years younger than him only highlighted his Freudian interpretation of the role. Two years later, the actress had her first leading role as a Jewish woman in pre-war Germany forced by her family to marry a man they deem appropriate rather than her true love in "The Angel With the Trumpet." She garnered praise for her turn as the mother of a newlywed bride in the comedy "For Better For Worse" (1954) and as the mother the first psychoanalytic patient in "Freud" (1962). She again played Gertrude, this time to Richard Burton in John Gielgud's 1964 modern dress version of the classic. (The Broadway production was filmed for theatrical release.) Her last film (to date) was Sidney Lumet's 1968 adaptation of Chekhov's "The Sea Gull."
Cast (Feature Film)
Feature debut as a handmaiden in "Kismet"
Appeared in the film "Hungry Hill"
Played Queen Gertrude to Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet"
Had screen lead in "The Angel With a Trumpet"
Appeared in support of Ruth Gordon in "The Matchmaker"
Was leading lady to Ray Bolger in the musical "All American"
Co-starred in "Freud", directed by John Huston
Reprised Queen Gertrude opposite Richard Burton on Broadway in John Gielgud's modern-dress version; play was filmed for theatrical release
Last feature, Sidney Lumet's film version of Chekhov's "The Sea Gull"
Starred on Broadway as Queen Mary in "Crown Matrimonial"
Joined cast of the ABC daytime drama "All My Children" as Myrtle Lum Fargate