Bel Geddes made her film debut opposite Henry Fonda and Vincent Price in The Long Night (1948), a remake of the brooding 1939 French classic Le Jour se lève. The following year, Bel Geddes landed her most memorable film role as Irene Dunne’s daughter in I Remember Mama, a heartfelt ode to motherhood. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
After solid performances in Panic in the Streets (1950) and Fourteen Hours (1951), Bel Geddes’ film career stalled when she was investigated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Although she was not one of “The Hollywood Ten”, she turned her focus back to the theatre, where she appeared on Broadway in The Moon Is Blue and The Living Room. In 1956, Bel Geddes earned raves as Maggie the Cat in the original stage version of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She earned Tony Award nominations for Williams’ play and for the 1961 comedy Mary, Mary.
She returned to Hollywood in 1958 to star in Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo. She played Midge (see photo above), James Stewart’s quietly-suffering female friend who longed to be more than just a friend. The part eventually led to four appearances on Hitch’s TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The best of those episodes—indeed, one of the best in the series’ entire run—was “Lamb to the Slaughter.” It featured Bel Geddes as a woman who kills her cheating husband with a frozen leg of lamb. (There’s more to the story, but no spoilers here!)
Barbara Bel Geddes subsequently retired to Maine. She died of lung cancer in 2005. She was married twice.