Monday, February 25, 2008

Gale Sondergaard

Gale Sondergaard was a talented actress who could play a variety of characters, but it's a few select roles for which I best remember her.

Ms. Sondergaard played the inferred title character in "The Spider Woman" (1944 - a 'Sherlock Holmes' feature) and "The Spider Woman Strikes Back" (1946). In other movies, she played the cat Tylette in "The Blue Bird", a 1940 Shirley Temple movie, a very well-made fantasy, in my opinion, and the mysterious "Emily" in Abbott and Costello's "The Time of Their Lives" (1946).

Knowing she'd been married to writer/director Herbert J. Biberman, I looked up her name in a Los Angeles phone directory, suspecting that perhaps she was listed. This was in 1980. She wasn't listed under her own name, but rather as "G. S. Biberman" (her husband had died a few years earlier). I called and the phone was answered by her sister (she identified herself as such a few minutes into our conversation). She told me Gale was in New York City, appearing in a Broadway play, but would be returning home to California in a few days. She said Gale would sign photos for me, but I had to provide them as she had none to give away. She further specified that I enclose a stamped addressed envelope (which I always did) and then allow time for Gale to get to them, as she didn't have a secretary to arrange these things for her.

I sent her three choice portrait photos - one a lovely full-length pose, one a character portrait as "Tylette the cat", and another as "The Spider Woman". She signed all three, but only inscribed the first one to me, misspelling my name.

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