Dorothy McGuire Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
Dorothy Hackett McGuire was born on June 14, 1916, in Omaha, Nebraska. She was the only child of her parents. McGuire was interested in acting from an early age. Her parents were supportive of her dreams and encouraged her interest in acting. Dorothy made her stage debut as a teenager in the Omaha Community Playhouse, in the play A Kiss for Cinderella.
McGuire attended Omaha Junior College, Ladywood Convent in Indianapolis and later Pine Manor Junior College in Wellesley. In 1938 she appeared in the stage productions of Bachelor Born and Stopover. Her first big role was on Broadway as Emily Gibb in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.
Rise To Stardom
After her first big role on Broadway, McGuire was cast in several stage plays including My Dear Children, Swingin’ the Dream, Medicine Show, The Time of Your Life and King Lady. In 1941 she landed the titular role of Claudia. The comedy became an instant hit on Broadway and made McGuire a star. After this project, she was signed by David O. Selznick to 20th Century Fox. The company took a risk recreating the play on big screen, where McGuire starred along with Robert Young. The film Claudia was released in 1943 and earned the young actress critical acclaim.
Her second major film role came in 1945 when she was given the role of Katie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She got the role after Gene Tierney became pregnant and unavailable for the role. Her amazing performance was overlooked during the Awards season. This role was followed by four hit films, most memorable of them the 1945 film The Enchanted Cottage. The following year she starred in the thriller The Spiral Staircase. In 1947, McGuire was nominated for the Academy Award for her role in the hit movie Gentleman’s Agreement.
After being nominated for the Academy Award, McGuire decided to leave the movie scene for a while and returned to stage acting. She performed in several plays, including Tonight at 8:30 in 1947 and Summer and Smoke in 1950. When she decided to return to Hollywood, McGuire found that things are not the same anymore. She was offered and took the roles in 1950 movie Mother Didn’t Tell Me, and Callaway Went Thataway in 1951. Her only hit film from this period was Three Coins in the Fountain (1954).
McGuire was approaching her 40s and began to take roles as a pillar-of-strength mother. Her most memorable roles from the 1950s were Disney’s Old Yeller, Friendly Persuasion, and Swiss Family Robinson. In 1965, McGuire played the role of Virgin Mary in the biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told. Her last film was in 1971, starring as an Irish granny in the Flight of the Doves.
In her later years, McGuire began starring in various television projects. She starred in the well-received television mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man, for which she received an Emmy Nomination. She also played Marmee in Little Women: Pilot in 1978. Her final acting project was the mini-movie The Last Best Year in 1990.
McGuire was married to John Swope, Life magazine photographer, for more than 35 years, until his death in 1979. The couple had two children. Their son Mark Swope became an artist and a photographer. Her daughter Topo Swope was also an actress.
In 2001, McGuire broke her leg, and her health started to decline severely. Not long after, she died of heart failure in Santa Monica hospital, at the age of 85.