Oscar: Supporting Actress–Sondergaard, Gale

Oscar History: Supporting Actress (1936-Present)

Until 1943, the Supporting Actors winners received plaques, instead of Oscar statuettes.

Sondergaard: Brief Profile:

In 1936, Gale Sondergaard became the first winner of the Supporting Actress Oscar, receiving the award for her feature debut, the historical biopic Anthony Adverse, which was also nominated for Best Picture and for six other categories.

The film also won Oscars for Cinematography, Score, and Editing.

Mervyn LeRoy’s screen version was based on the best-selling novel by Hervey Allen, which was published in 1933 and was translated into over 20 languages. Done in an epic style, with an epic running time (140 minutes to match), lavish sets and costumes, the saga centers on Anthony Adverse (Frederic March), the love child of an unhappy Spanish young wife and the soldier who is killed by Don Luis (Claude Rains) in a duel.

After his mother’s death, the nobleman drops the baby at a girl’s convent in Leghorn, Italy, where he is raised as the school’s only male. The ensuing plot is full of twists and turns, coincidences and intrigues that must have been considered stirring by standards of the 1930s.

Along the way, Anthony circumvents schemes by Bonneyfetaher and his associate Faith (Gale Sondergaard) to destroy him by revealing his true origins. Later on, in Paris, Anthony reconnects with Angela, who’s now a famous opera star—and Napoleon’s mistress.

She played supporting roles in various films, including and The Letter (1940).

She was nominated for a second Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Anna and the King of Siam (1946)

Sondergaard played Tylette/The Cat in The Blue Bird, The Cat and the Canary, The Mark of Zorro, and the sinister Mrs. Hammond in the 1940 melodrama, “The Letter,” starring Bette Davis. In 1944, she essayed the title role in Spider Woman.

Victim of Politics

Sondergaard became one of the earliest political casualties due to her marriage to director Herbert Biberman, who was suspected of Communist leanings and later became one of the “Hollywood Ten.

She was instrumental in the making of her husband’s controversial film, Salt of the Earth.

” Blacklisted at the peak of her career, Sondergaard couldn’t screen work for decades. Her appeal to the Screen Actors Guild for protection was rejected on the grounds that “all participants in the International Communist Party conspiracy against our nation should be exposed for what they are–enemies of our country and our form of government.”

Sondergaard emerged out of forced retirement in 1965 in a one?woman show Off?Broadway, and later made several screen comebacks, none of which too successful. She was featured in “The Return of a Man Called Horse, in 1976. She played her last role in the 1983 Echoes.

In 1978, as a gesture of reconciliation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asked Sondergaard to be a presenter at the Oscar show’s fiftieth anniversary.

Sondergaard died in Los Angeles, in 1985, at the age of 86.