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Did Greer Garson ever come close to winning more than one Oscar?

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  • DaKardii
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    Inspired by a similar thread by RobertPius regarding Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter.

    Although she won for “Mrs. Miniver,” Greer Garson, like her 1950s equivalent Kerr, was also snubbed for an Oscar on six different occasions.

    Considering that I’m trying to write a potential Garson biopic script and the Kerr-Ritter thread has taken off, might as well ask out of curiosity.

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    DaKardii
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    Here are my guesses.

     

    1960 (Sunrise at Campobello)- She was fighting for second with MacLaine. Had it not been for the massive campaign for Taylor prompted by her near-fatal illness, there’s a good chance Garson would’ve won Oscar #2 that night.

     

    1945 (The Valley of Decision)- No way in hell. Best case scenario was third place. Bergman and Crawford were both miles ahead of the others.

     

    1944 (Mrs. Parkington)- No way in hell. Nobody was beating Bergman that year. Best case scenario was a very distant second.

     

    1943 (Madame Curie)- No way in hell. Nobody was beating Jones that year. Best case scenario was a very distant second.

     

    1941 (Blossoms in the Dust)- No. My guess is that Garson came in fourth that year, with Davis coming in second, de Havilland in third, and Stanwyck in last.

     

    1939 (Goodbye, Mr. Chips)- No way in hell. Nobody was beating Leigh that year. My guess is that Garson came in a very distant second or third, with the fact that her character was clearly supporting possibly having a negative effect on her ranking.

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    Sam_Malone
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    1960 (Sunrise at Campobello) – I’ve already shared my thoughts on this on the Kerr thread. Taylor was winning, end of story. I suppose if there hadn’t been Taylor’s illness, there might have been an aggressive campaign for Garson securing her the gold. However, Kerr might have been an contender, too. Problem is that Garson’s movie underperformaned and from today’s point of view her performance is almost laughable. She didn’t come close to win, without Taylor she might have won or came close.

    1945 (The Valley of Decision) – I don’t see it. By 1945 there must have been some kind of Garson fatigue spreading over Hollywood and her movies and performances became repetitive. I mean, watch a 2-minute scene of Garson and you could not tell which movie it might be from.

    1944 (Mrs. Parkington) – Close? I don’t know. Fanboys like to think that Stanwyck placed high in the final ballot but I don’t see that. Davis’ performance wasn’t incredibly popular. I suppose she ranked either 2nd or 3rd (after Colbert). But coming close? I don’t think so.

    1943 (Madame Curie) – Jennifer Jones was everybody’s darling and the studio drove a tireless campaign to secure her the Oscar. Garson had just won coupled with the Academy’s love for Jones (which proved fruitful as they could not stop nominating her in the following years), there was no way in hell Garson was gonna win. Who came in second? I am going out on a limb and say Jean Arthur who was at her peak in 1943.

    1941 (Blossoms in the Dust) – Considering the politics involved in 1941, it is tough to imagine who came in second and what distance there was between 1st and 2nd. I actually think that Fontaine won by a  hair. I mean, she lost the year before but it’s not like Fontaine was somebody the Academy really needed to award or apologize to. I do not see Davis coming close to the gold as her movie was not from Warner’s and I think there was not really a campaign for her. Nobody really seemed to have cared about de Havilland before she started to go to court, so I am not seeing her in 2nd either. Considering that Garson had the MGM publicity department behind her and starred in a kind of movie the Academy simply loved in the 40s, I think she was a close second. As for Stanwyck I simply don’t know. She never really had a studio to back up a potential win, however, they kept nominating her, so they really must have loved her (a bigger campaign and she might have snagged the gold). She is my pick from the nominees but strangely, I would either have her high up the list (2nd or close 3rd) or dead last.

    1939 (Goodbye, Mr. Chips) – Well, be careful here. Vivien Leigh’s win seems like a no-brainer today, however, back then her win was almost seen as a mini-upset as Davis heavily campaigned to get her Oscar and the bookies were not sure whether Davis would succeed or they would give the foreigner playing a Southern belle the Oscar. Leigh prevailed, but probably with Davis a very close second. If you watch Davis interviews from the 80s, you will see that she hadn’t gotten over the Oscar loss in 1939. So, it was Leigh vs. Davis, everybody else was on the sidelines with Garson probably the farest away.

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    tonorlo
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    I feel very safe in saying that Garson came in second place for 1941. “Blossoms in the Dust” was a huge critical and commercial success, MGM pushed the film vigorously, and Garson was situated right at the beginning of her extraordinary popularity with film audiences.

    Stanwyck was the sole “comedienne” in a lineup of dramatic heavy-hitters, and it also didn’t help that her vehicle was produced by industry laughingstock Samuel Goldwyn, still five years away from gaining serious industry respect, despite his string of profitable hits. The Goldwyn onus also did no favors for Davis, whose on-set contretemps with director Wyler were a badly kept secret, and almost certainly cost her on the ballots (the fact that Davis was such a polarizing character outside of the Wyler debacle, and the fact that she was already a two-time winner further eroded her chance for Oscar # 3 at the time). De Havilland suffered from the fact that there were just as many people who thought her film was a silly piece of fluff as there were people who ate it up.

    Believe it or not, Garson was very, very likely the runner-up for 1943. Even with the “Miniver” win the year before, if any actress in the 1940s was going to become the first winner of consecutive Oscars since Luise Rainer, Garson was the likeliest candidate. It’s really hard to overstate how big Garson was within and without the industry during the early 1940s. It is no exaggeration to say that the public perception of her was very much on par with the way many see Meryl Streep today. Garson had it ALL. She had the clout, the acclaim, choice roles, she was an Academy darling, she was seen without peer as the reigning queen of Hollywood’s most powerful studio, and she was a favorite of her boss. “Madame Curie” was MGM’s big prestige picture of the year, and it reaped a healthy seven nominations on the ballot (though its Academy success may have been somewhat blunted by Louis B. Mayer’s stated preference for MGM’s other Best Picture nominee of that year, “The Human Comedy”). The only nominee who might have given Garson a run for her money as runner-up that year was Bergman, then at the beginning of her own meteoric ascent (and co-starring in “Casablanca” that same year surely didn’t hurt her, either). Ironically, “Bernadette” and “Bells” were projected as the likeliest Best Picture winner that year, though Jones gained more leverage as her vehicle was more immediately centered on her performance than “Bells” was on Bergman.

    Finally, Garson was likely neck-and-neck with MacLaine for runner-up status in 1960; she was the sole acting nominee for the much-vaunted “Sunrise at Campobello” (which nevertheless did indeed under-perform, both at the box office and on the Oscar ballot) she was the grand dame of the old guard in the 1960 lineup, and much was made of the fact that this was one of Garson’s strongest stabs at “character acting,” and she was the only Best Actress nominee playing a historical figure (Oscar catnip then as now).

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    AwardsConnect
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    MGM always campaigned the hell out of Garson’s vehicles (some of which decidedly weren’t the greatest of pictures), so she undoubtedly did come close. My gut says she was probably 5th in ’39, 3rd in ’41, runner-up in ’43, 4th in ’44, 3rd in ’45 and 3rd in ’60.

    THE OSCAR 100 (#10-6): Jack Nicholson, Gloria Swanson, Shirley Booth, Anthony Hopkins and Rod Steiger

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    RobertPius
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    Didn’t she have the longest acceptance speech ever? Some of it is on youtube. How long was it?

    Did she live in Florida at the end of her life? I swear some famous Oscar winner lived near my relatives and died there. I always thought it was Garson but it looks like she died in Dallas. I keep going through the list of Best Actress winners from that era trying to figure out who it was.

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    Aunt Peg
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    Didn’t she have the longest acceptance speech ever? Some of it is on youtube. How long was it?

    Did she live in Florida at the end of her life? I swear some famous Oscar winner lived near my relatives and died there. I always thought it was Garson but it looks like she died in Dallas. I keep going through the list of Best Actress winners from that era trying to figure out who it was.

    Heddy Lamarr spent her later years in Florida and died in Casselberry in January 2000. Though she was never nominated or won an Oscar. She did however, invent a frequency-hopping system that now plays a big role in our lives. Actually, Heddy Lamarr accomplished more for mankind that all the Oscar winners combined. Worth checking out the documentary on her from last year titled Bombshell: The Heddy Lamarr Story.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Aunt Peg.
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    DaKardii
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    Didn’t she have the longest acceptance speech ever? Some of it is on youtube. How long was it?

    Yes, and it was about 5 1/2 minutes. Not even close to the whopping 60 minutes initially reported by the press (which back then was much more prone to sensationalist number-fudging), but still the longest today. The second longest (I think) is Halle Berry’s acceptance speech when she won Best Actress for Monster’s Ball in 2002, which was about 4 minutes.

    Didn’t she have the longest acceptance speech ever? Some of it is on youtube. How long was it? Did she live in Florida at the end of her life? I swear some famous Oscar winner lived near my relatives and died there. I always thought it was Garson but it looks like she died in Dallas. I keep going through the list of Best Actress winners from that era trying to figure out who it was.

    She never lived in Florida. You’re right that she died in Dallas, however.

    Didn’t she have the longest acceptance speech ever? Some of it is on youtube. How long was it? Did she live in Florida at the end of her life? I swear some famous Oscar winner lived near my relatives and died there. I always thought it was Garson but it looks like she died in Dallas. I keep going through the list of Best Actress winners from that era trying to figure out who it was.

    Heddy Lamarr spent her later years in Florida and died in Casselberry in January 2000. Though she was never nominated or won an Oscar. She did however, invent a frequency-hopping system that now plays a big role in our lives. Actually, Heddy Lamarr accomplished more for mankind that all the Oscar winners combined. Worth checking out the documentary on her from last year titled Bombshell: The Heddy Lamarr Story.

    Yeah, Lamarr needs a biopic, too. I can only write one biopic at a time, so if anyone earns an Oscar for “The Heddy Lamarr Story,” it probably won’t be me. While we’re still on the subject, who do you think should play her?

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    RobertPius
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    I’ll have to read up on Heddy Lamarr. I don’t know anything about her. It couldn’t have been her that died near my relatives. This would have been in central Florida some time in the last ten years or so. Maybe she wasn’t an Oscar winner. I just know it was a famous actress from that era who I was a bit surprised lived and died in rural central Florida.

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