Geraldine Brooks was an American actress who had a successful career on stage, film and television. She was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1962 and a Tony Award in 1970. She was married to author Budd Schulberg, who wrote the screenplay for On the Waterfront. She died of a heart attack while battling cancer at the age of 51 in 1977. In this article, we will look at her life, achievements and legacy.
Early Life and Education
Geraldine Brooks was born as Geraldine Stroock on October 29, 1925, in New York City. Her parents were James Stroock, who owned a theatrical costume company, and Bianca Stroock, who was a costume designer and stylist. She had a sister, Gloria, who also became an actress.
Geraldine was exposed to the entertainment industry from a young age, as her father’s company supplied costumes for Broadway shows and Hollywood films. Her aunt was a singer at the Metropolitan Opera and another aunt was a showgirl with the Ziegfeld Follies. She attended the Hunter Modeling School and graduated from Julia Richman High School in 1942, where she was president of the drama club.
She studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Neighborhood Playhouse, and performed in summer stock productions. She made her Broadway debut in 1944 in the musical comedy Follow the Girls, where she played a character named Catherine Pepburn. She later changed her surname to Brooks, which was the name of her father’s costume company.
Brooks caught the attention of a Warner Bros. scout while playing Perdita in The Winter’s Tale at the Theatre Guild in 1946. She signed a contract with the studio and made her film debut in 1947 in Cry Wolf, opposite Barbara Stanwyck and Errol Flynn. She played Flynn’s scheming niece who tries to sabotage Stanwyck’s inheritance.
She followed this with another supporting role in Possessed, starring Joan Crawford as a mentally unstable woman. Brooks played Crawford’s sympathetic stepdaughter who tries to help her recover. She received positive reviews for her performances and was considered a promising newcomer.
She moved up to leading roles in Embraceable You (1948), opposite Dane Clark, and An Act of Murder (1948), opposite Fredric March and Florence Eldridge. She also appeared in two westerns, The Younger Brothers (1949) and The Reckless Moment (1949), and a dog movie, Challenge to Lassie (1949).
However, she became dissatisfied with the quality of her roles and the studio system. She decided to try her luck in Europe, where she made two films: The Last Five Minutes (1951) in Italy and The Thief of Venice (1952) in France. She played Anna Magnani’s sister in the former and Paul Henreid’s love interest in the latter.
She returned to Hollywood in 1953, but found it difficult to get good roles. She appeared in minor films such as Split Second (1953), The Steel Cage (1954) and The Desperate Hours (1955). She also did some television work, such as guest starring on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Playhouse 90.
Stage and Television Career
Brooks decided to focus more on stage and television work, where she felt she had more artistic freedom and recognition. She joined the Actors Studio in 1956 and became a disciple of method acting. She starred in several Broadway plays, such as Time of the Cuckoo (1952-53), The Cold Wind and the Warm (1958-59), Invitation to a March (1960-61) and Brightower (1970). She received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play for Brightower, which was written by her husband Budd Schulberg.
She also appeared in many off-Broadway plays, such as The Glass Menagerie (1956), A View from the Bridge (1965), The Three Sisters (1966) and The Cherry Orchard (1973). She won an Obie Award for Best Actress for her performance as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1973).
She continued to work on television throughout the 1960s and 1970s, appearing on shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Fugitive, The Defenders, Dr. Kildare, The Virginian, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Mannix, Medical Center and Kojak. She received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Anne Sullivan in The Miracle Worker (1962), opposite Patty Duke as Helen Keller.
She also starred in several TV movies, such as A Clear and Present Danger (1970), The Neon Ceiling (1971), The Glass House (1972) and The Disappearance of Aimee (1976). She played the title role in the latter, which was based on the true story of Aimee Semple McPherson, a famous evangelist who vanished in 1926.
Personal Life and Death
Brooks was married twice, both times to writers. Her first husband was Herb Sargent, a comedy writer and producer who worked on shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show. They married in 1958 and divorced in 1961. Her second husband was Budd Schulberg, a novelist and screenwriter who wrote the books What Makes Sammy Run? and The Harder They Fall, and the screenplay for On the Waterfront. They married in 1964 and remained together until her death.
Brooks had two children with Schulberg: a son, Stephen, who became a film producer, and a daughter, Victoria, who became an actress. She also had two stepchildren from Schulberg’s previous marriage: a son, Stuart, who became a journalist, and a daughter, Sandra, who became a photographer.
Brooks was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-1970s and underwent chemotherapy and surgery. She continued to work until her health deteriorated. She died of a heart attack on June 19, 1977, at Central Suffolk Hospital in Riverhead, New York. She was 51 years old. She was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Sag Harbor, New York.
Geraldine Brooks was a talented and versatile actress who had a long and varied career on stage, film and television. She worked with some of the biggest names in the industry and earned critical acclaim and awards for her performances. She was known for her beauty, intelligence and intensity on screen and stage.
She is remembered as one of the leading actresses of her generation and as a pioneer of method acting. She influenced many other actors who admired her work and style. She also left behind a family of artists who continued her legacy in different fields.
She is also remembered for her courage and dignity in facing her illness and death. She never gave up on her passion and profession until the end. She was an inspiration to many people who struggled with cancer or other challenges.
Geraldine Brooks Actress Cause of Death: A Tribute to a Talented Star is an article that pays homage to a remarkable woman who left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment.