Oscar Actors: Fitzgerald, Barry–Going My Way

Born March 10, 1888, William Joseph Shields, known professionally as Barry Fitzgerald, was an Irish stage, film and television actor.

In a career spanning almost forty years, he appeared in such notable films as Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Long Voyage Home (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), Going My Way (1944), None but the Lonely Heart (1944) and The Quiet Man (1952).

For Going My Way (1944), he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and was simultaneously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

He was the older brother of Irish actor Arthur Shields.

He went to Skerry College, Dublin, before going on to work in the civil service, starting in 1911 as a junior clerk at the Dublin Board of Trade.

Fitzgerald was interested in acting and began appearing in amateur dramatic societies such as the Kincora Players. His brother Arthur Shields joined the Abbey in 1915 and Barry would soon join him. He used a stage name so as not to get in trouble with his superiors in the civil service.

At the Abbey, he played bit parts in plays such as The Casting Out of Martin Whelan and a four-word part in The Critic.

His breakthrough performance at the Abbey came in 1919, when he was in The Dragon by Lady Gregory. However he continued to act part time until 1929, keeping his job at the civil service during the day.

He died January 14, 1961, at age 72.