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Barbara O'Neil

Barbara O'Neil actress

The basics
Quick Facts
Intro actress
A.K.A. Барбара О’Нил
Countries United States of America
Occupations Actor Film actor Stage actor Television actor
Type Film, Television, Stage and Radio
Gender female
Birth 17 July 1910 (St. Louis)
Death 3 September 1980 (Greenwich)
Star sign CancerCancer
Spouse: Joshua Logan
Education Yale School of Drama
The details

Barbara O'Neil (July 17, 1910 – September 3, 1980) was an American film and stage actress. She appeared in the film Gone with the Wind (1939) and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in All This, and Heaven Too (1940).

Life and career

O'Neil was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Barbara (née Blackman; 1880-1963) and David O'Neil, a businessman and poet. Her mother was a socialite and suffragist. She spent her childhood mostly in Europe and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. Her maternal grandmother was Carrie Horton Blackman, a successful portrait painter.

She began her acting career in summer stock. In July 1931 Bretaigne Windust, Charles Leatherbee (the grandson of Charles Richard Crane), and Joshua Logan, the three directors of the University Players, a three-year-old summer stock company at West Falmouth on Cape Cod, were looking for a leading lady for their repertory season that winter in Baltimore. At the suggestion of George Pierce Baker, they auditioned and hired O'Neil, one of his talented students at the Yale School of Drama. Romances born of the University Players led to three significant marriages: actress Margaret Sullavan to Henry Fonda for a few months in 1932, director/actor Joshua Logan's younger sister Mary Lee Logan to Charles Leatherbee, and Joshua Logan to Barbara O'Neil, which lasted only a brief period in the early 1940s. O'Neil never remarried. She made her Broadway debut in a 1932 play about Carrie Nation. Her other stage credits include originating the role of Madam Serena Merle in a Broadway adaptation of The Portrait of a Lady in 1954.

Barbara O'Neil on set of The Toy Wife (1938)

In 1937, O'Neil debuted in the film Stella Dallas, and in 1939 she was cast in the role of Ellen O'Hara, Scarlett O'Hara's mother, in Gone with the Wind (though she was only three years older than her onscreen daughter, Vivien Leigh) after the role was turned down by Lillian Gish. The following year, she appeared in All This and Heaven Too; she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role of the domineering and jealous Duchesse de Praslin.

Her later films include Shining Victory (1941), I Remember Mama (1948), The Secret Beyond the Door (1948) and two of director Otto Preminger's films, Whirlpool (1949) and Angel Face (1952). She also appeared in The Nun's Story (1959), starring Audrey Hepburn.

O'Neil died from a heart attack at the age of 70 on September 3, 1980.


Year Film Role Notes
1937 Stella Dallas Helen Morrison Dallas
1938 Love, Honor and Behave Sally Painter
The Toy Wife Louise Brigard
I Am the Law Jerry Lindsay
1939 The Sun Never Sets Helen Randolph
When Tomorrow Comes Madeleine Chagal
Tower of London Queen Elyzabeth
Gone with the Wind Ellen O'Hara, Scarlett's mother
1940 All This, and Heaven Too Francoise, Duchess de Praslin Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1941 Shining Victory Miss Leeming
1948 Secret Beyond the Door... Miss Robey
I Remember Mama Jessie Brown
1949 Whirlpool Theresa Randolph
1952 Angel Face Mrs. Catherine Tremayne
1956 Flame of the Islands Mrs. Duryea
1959 The Nun's Story Mother Didyma
1970 Lions of St. Petersburg Tamila aka Leoni di Petersburgo (final film role)
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