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Barbara Bel Geddes

Barbara Bel GeddesBorn: 31-Oct-1922
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 8-Aug-2005
Location of death: Northeast Harbor, ME
Cause of death: Cancer - Lung
Remains: Cremated (ashes scattered)

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Miss Ellie on Dallas

Barbara Bel Geddes played Miss Ellie, the genteel Southern matriarch of the Ewings, on the long-running soap opera Dallas. Her character loved the Southfork ranch the way Scarlet O'Hara loved Tara in Gone With the Wind. Before Dallas, Bel Geddes had a short but distinguished Hollywood résumé, and a long and accomplished stage career. She made only a dozen movies, but three were considered gems in their genres: In the family drama I Remember Mama, Bel Geddes, 26 and playing younger, was the struggling writer. In Hitchcock's Vertigo, she played Jimmy Stewart's old girlfriend. And when the bubonic plague threatened New Orleans in Panic in the Streets, Bel Geddes was doctor Richard Widmark's wife.

Her film career was interrupted by McCarthyism, so Bel Geddes returned to the stage, appearing in numerous Broadway productions, and originating the role of Maggie in the first run of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She also starred in The Moon Is Blue with Barry Nelson, a play which was considered controversial for its frank dialogue about sex.

Bel Geddes came to her widest fame, of course, on Dallas from 1978-90. She resigned from the show during the 1984-85 season, citing health concerns, and Donna Reed took over the role of Miss Ellie, but the next season Bel Geddes either felt better or was offered more money, and she became Miss Ellie again.

She also had a memorable role in perhaps the best-remembered episode of the anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Directed by Hitchcock himself from a story by Roald Dahl, she played a woman who killed her husband with a frozen-solid leg of lamb, then fed the murder weapon to the investigating policemen.

Bel Geddes had a mastectomy in the early 1970s, and her Miss Ellie character underwent the same operation on Dallas several years later. She died in 2005 from lung cancer, having long been a heavy smoker.

Father: Norman Melancton Geddes (theater designer, b. 1893, d. 1958)
Mother: Helen Belle Sneider
Husband: Carl Schreuer (m. 24-Jan-1944, div. 1951, one daughter)
Daughter: Susan Schreuer
Husband: Windsor Lewis (m. 15-Apr-1951, d. 1972, one daughter)
Daughter: Betsy Lewis

    Appendectomy Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital (Nov-1946)
    Mastectomy 1970s
    Heart Attack 1983
    Heart Bypass Operation quadruple 1984
    Risk Factors: Smoking

    Dallas Eleanor Southworth Ewing Farlow (#1)

    Our Town (30-May-1977)
    The Todd Killings (20-Oct-1971)
    Summertree (6-Jun-1971)
    By Love Possessed (19-Jul-1961) · Clarissa Winner
    5 Branded Women (15-Mar-1960)
    The Five Pennies (18-Jun-1959)
    Vertigo (9-May-1958) · Midge Wood
    Fourteen Hours (6-Mar-1951)
    Panic in the Streets (12-Jun-1950) · Nancy Reed
    Caught (17-Feb-1949) · Leonora Eames
    Blood on the Moon (9-Nov-1948) · Amy Lufton
    I Remember Mama (9-Mar-1948) · Katrin
    The Long Night (28-May-1947) · Jo Ann

Author of books:
I Like To Be Me (1963)
So Do I (1972)

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