What would Greer Garson have done without Mrs. Miniver?

Born in 1914 in Northern Ireland, Garson caught the eye of MGM boss Louis B. Mayer during her early days in the English theater.  She signed on the dotted line, and made an effective cameo debut in 1939’s Goodbye Mr. Chips.

Then came a string of respectable pictures that established her as a ladylike screen presence, maternal and loyal, dutiful and steely in the face of adversity. That’s a pretty good description of her stalwart title character in William Wyler’s wartime classic, Mrs. Miniver.

Garson rose to the role with ease, assuring her worldwide popularity, a best actress Oscar and — a husband. And, no, we are not referring to her screen costar Walter Pidgeon (pictured above with Greer).

Soon after the movie was made, Garson married actor Richard Ney, who made his movie debut in Mrs. Miniver. The interesting angle was that Ney played Greer’s son, Vin Miniver. He in fact was a dozen years younger that Garson, but love had its way.  Things ended badly, however.  The marriage lasted from 1943 to 1948; she was his first wife, he her second husband. At the end, he uttered some churlish remarks about Greer’s age.  It hurt his career.

Ok, on to the answers to our Mrs. Miniver Quiz. To check out the questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:

1) Answer:  a) True.  Director Wyler, who was born in Germany, openly said Mrs. Miniver was made in large part for propaganda reasons.  He personally felt the U.S. should heavily commit itself to the war against Nazism. He wanted to show what America’s British cousins were enduring early in the conflict. Wyler succeeded perhaps more than he ever imagined.

2) Answer:  c) Wyler was indeed a demanding director, who believed in shooting many, many takes of a  scene to get it just right.  Walter Pidgeon was at first hesitant to take the role of Clem Miniver because he feared working under Wyler.  The actor’s agent talked him out of it, however, and the role propelled Pidgeon’s career.

3) Answer:  b) Norma Shearer.  She supposedly turned down the role of Mrs. Miniver because she didn’t want to portray a mother.  Wrong move.

4) Answer:  b) False. Mrs. Miniver was the first movie to receive five acting Academy Award nominations. In all, the movie won six Oscars including best actress for Garson, best supporting actress for Teresa Wright, best director and best picture.

5) Answer:  c).  See introductory remarks above.


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