Dorothy McGuire

Dorothy McGuire

Publicity photo of McGuire, 1940s.
Born Dorothy Hackett McGuire
(1916-06-14)June 14, 1916
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Died September 13, 2001(2001-09-13) (aged 85)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death Cardiac arrest
Resting place Cremated remains scattered into the Pacific Ocean
Other names Dorothy McGuire Swope
Years active 1943-1990
Spouse(s) John Swope
(m.1943-1979; his death)
Children Topo Swope
Mark Swope

Dorothy Hackett McGuire (June 14, 1916 September 13, 2001) was an American actress. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress for Friendly Persuasion (1956).

Life and career

Dorothy McGuire and Spring Byington in the short film Reward Unlimited (1944)
Dorothy McGuire and John Garfield in Gentleman's Agreement (1947)

Early years

Born in Omaha, Nebraska,[1] McGuire was the only child of Thomas Johnson McGuire and Isabelle Flaherty McGuire.[2] She began her acting career on the stage at the Omaha Community Playhouse.[1]

After her father's death, McGuire attended a convent school in Indianapolis, Indiana. She later attended Pine Manor Junior College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, serving as president of that school's drama club. She graduated from Pine Manor when she was 19.[2]


McGuire was a member of the casts of Big Sister (playing Sue Evans[3]) and Joyce Jordan, M.D.. She also appeared in This Is My Best (Miracle in the Rain),[4] Screen Directors Playhouse (The Spiral Staircase) and in Theatre Guild on the Air (Hamlet[5] A Doll's House, Our Town[6]).


Eventually, she reached Broadway, first appearing as an understudy to Martha Scott in Our Town, and subsequently starring in the domestic comedy, Claudia.[1]


Brought to Hollywood by producer David O. Selznick (who called her "a born actress"[7]) on the strength of her stage performance, McGuire starred in her first film, a movie adaptation of her Broadway success, Claudia,[1] and portrayed the character of a child bride who almost destroys her marriage through her selfishness. Her inaugural screen performance was popular with both the public and critics alike and was the catalyst for not only a sequel, Claudia and David (both movies co-starring Robert Young), but also for numerous other film roles.

By 1945, at the age of 29, she was already playing mother roles, in such movies as A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1947 for Gentleman's Agreement. Other notable films include Till the End of Time, The Enchanted Cottage, A Summer Place, Three Coins in the Fountain, Friendly Persuasion, Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

McGuire had a long Hollywood career. Her versatility served her well in taut melodramas, such as The Spiral Staircase and Make Haste to Live, as well as in light, frothy comedies, such as Mother Didn't Tell Me and Mister 880.

Personal life and death

Married to Life magazine photographer John Swope (1908–1979) for more than 35 years, she had a son, photographer Mark Swope, and a daughter Topo[2] (born 1948), who also became an actress.[8]

McGuire died of cardiac arrest in 2001 following a brief illness at the age of 85.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Dorothy McGuire has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6933 Hollywood Blvd.


Film and Television
Year Title Role Notes
1943 Claudia Claudia Naughton
1944 Reward Unlimited Peggy Adams Short film for the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps[9]
1945 Enchanted Cottage, TheThe Enchanted Cottage Laura Pennington
1945 Tree Grows in Brooklyn, AA Tree Grows in Brooklyn Katie Nolan
1945 Spiral Staircase, TheThe Spiral Staircase Helen Capel
1946 Claudia and David Claudia Naughton
1946 Till the End of Time Pat Ruscomb
1947 Gentleman's Agreement Kathy Lacy Academy Award nomination for Best Actress
1950 Mother Didn't Tell Me Jane Morgan
1950 Mister 880 Ann Winslow
1951 Robert Montgomery Presents Judith Traherne Episode: "Dark Victory"
1951 Callaway Went Thataway Deborah Patterson
1951 I Want You Nancy Greer
1952 Invitation Ellen Bowker Pierce
1954 Make Haste to Live Crystal Benson
1954 Three Coins in the Fountain Miss Frances
1954 United States Steel Hour, TheThe United States Steel Hour Tina Episode: "A Garden in the Sea"
1954 Lux Video Theatre Jody Norris Episode: "To Each His Own"
1954 Best of Broadway, TheThe Best of Broadway Tracy Lord Episode: "The Philadelphia Story"
1954 Climax! Janet Spence Episode: "The Gioconda Smile"
1954 What's My Line Herself (Celebrity Mystery Guest)
1955 Trial Abbe Nyle
1956 Climax! Miranda Episode: "Pale Horse, Pale Rider"
1956 Friendly Persuasion Eliza Birdwell
1957 Old Yeller Katie Coates
1959 Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker, TheThe Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker Mrs. Emily 'Ma' Pennypacker
1959 This Earth Is Mine Martha Fairon
1959 Summer Place, AA Summer Place Sylvia Hunter
1960 Dark at the Top of the Stairs, TheThe Dark at the Top of the Stairs Cora Flood
1960 Swiss Family Robinson Mother Robinson
1961 Susan Slade Leah Slade
1963 Summer Magic Margaret Carey
1964 The Red Skelton Hour Guest Vocalist Episode: "A Man and His Money Are Soon Parted"
1965 Greatest Story Ever Told, TheThe Greatest Story Ever Told The Virgin Mary
1971 Flight of the Doves Granny O'Flaherty
1972 Another Part of the Forest Lavinia Hubbard TV movie
1972 She Waits Sarah Wilson TV movie
1973 Jonathan Livingston Seagull Mother (voice)
1976 Rich Man, Poor Man Mary Jordache 7 episodes
1978 Little Women Marmee March
1979 Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel, TheThe Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel Effie Webb TV movie
1982 Love Boat, TheThe Love Boat Hanna Hamilton 1 episode
1983 Ghost Dancing Sarah Bowman TV movie
1983 Fantasy Island Joan Mallory Episode: "Three's a Crowd/Second Time Around"
1984 Love Boat, TheThe Love Boat Sarah Webster 1 episode
1984 Young and the Restless, TheThe Young and the Restless Cora Miller TV series
1985 Hotel Mrs. Christopher Episode: "Skeletons"
1985 Amos Hester Farrell TV movie
1985 Glitter The Matriarch Episode: "The Matriarch"
1985 Between the Darkness and the Dawn Beryl Foster TV movie
1986 St. Elsewhere Augusta Endicott 3 episodes
1986 American Geisha Ann Suzuki TV movie
1986 Highway to Heaven Jane Thompson Episode: "Keep Smiling"
1987 Summer Heat Narrator (voice)
1988 Highway to Heaven Jane Thompson Episode: "We Have Forever: Part 1"
Episode: "We Have Forever: Part 2"
1988 I Never Sang for My Father Margaret Garrison
1990 Hallmark Hall of Fame Flora Atkins Episode: "Caroline?"
1990 Last Best Year, TheThe Last Best Year Anne TV movie

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1947 Radio Reader's Digest Sweet Rosie O'Grady
1953 Lux Summer Theatre The Fall of Maggie Phillips[10]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2. Pp. 755-756.
  2. 1 2 3 Severo, Richard (September 15, 2001). "Dorothy McGuire, Steadfast Heroine of Film, Dies at 83". New York Times. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  3. "Say Hello To ..." (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. December 1939. p. 43. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  4. "What's Playing?" (PDF). Radio Life. December 10, 1944. p. 25. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  5. Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Pp.86, 376, 600, 662.
  6. "KECA mike memos" (PDF). Radio Life. March 23, 1947. p. 10. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  7. Johnson, Erskine (May 18, 1943). "Hollywood Column". The Escanaba Daily Press. p. 2. Retrieved May 6, 2015 via
  8. "Gets Distaff Lead". The Times Recorder. October 3, 1971. p. 8. Retrieved May 6, 2015 via
  9. "Reward Unlimited". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2015-12-06.
  10. Kirby, Walter (June 21, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved July 1, 2015 via
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