12 July, 2008

Barry Fitzgerald

Barry Fitzgerald was an Academy Award winning Irish stage, film and television actor.

He was born William Joseph Shields in Dublin, Ireland. He is the older brother of Irish actor Arthur Shields. He was a civil servant, while also working at the Abbey Theatre. By 1929, he turned to acting full-time. He was briefly a roommate of famed playwright Sean O'Casey and starred in such plays as O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock, a role he later recreated in his screen debut in 1930 for Alfred Hitchcock's film adaptation.

Fitzgerald went to Hollywood to star in another O'Casey work, The Plough and the Stars (1936), directed by John Ford. He had a successful Hollywood career in such films as The Long Voyage Home (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), And Then There Were None (1945), and The Quiet Man (1952). Fitzgerald achieved a feat unmatched in the history of the Academy Awards: he was nominated for both the Best Actor Oscar and the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the same performance, as "Father Fitzgibbon" in Going My Way (1944). He won the Best Supporting Actor Award; an avid golfer, he later broke the head off his Oscar statue while practicing his golf swing. During World War II, Oscar statues were made of plaster instead of gold, owing to wartime metal shortages.

Fitzgerald has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for movies at 6220 Hollywood Blvd. and for television at 7001 Hollywood Blvd.

He died on January 14, 1961, at the age of 61.

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