Is your surname Sondergaard?

Research the Sondergaard family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Related Projects

Edith (Gale) Holm Sondergaard (Søndergaard)

Also Known As: "Gale Sondergaard( Hollywood Actress)"
Birthplace: Litchfield, Minnesota, United States
Death: August 14, 1985 (86)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States (Stroke)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Hans Tjellesen Smidt Søndergaard and Anne Kirstine Tjellesen Smidt Sondergaard
Wife of Herbert Joseph Biberman
Ex-wife of Neil O'Malley
Mother of Joan Kirstine K Biberman and Daniel Hans Biberman
Sister of Ragni Holm Sondergaard and Hester Sondergaard

Occupation: Hollywood Actress
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Gale Sondergaard

Onsdag den 6. marts 2013: Cinemateket, København:

Hør og se den danske forfatter og amatørhistoriker Steen Balle i samtale med Cinematekets Rasmus Brendstrup. Steen Balle har boret i Sondergaards historie og bl.a. fået adgang til store mængder af skuespillerens private brevkorrespondancer. Denne dag nedkommer han med bogen ’Gale Sondergaard – birollens dronning’, hvilket vi markerer med en uformel reception, hvor der vil være gratis kaffe på kanden, historier om researcharbejdet og selvfølgelig en karakteristik af Sondergaard. Fri entré. Bogen (144 sider) kan på dagen købes for 200 kr. (normalpris 228 kr). Bemærk, at der samme dag også vises film med Sondergaard.

Medvirkende: Steen Balle, Rasmus Brendstrup



Tilladt for alle, Dansk tale [ca 4 min inde i indslaget i DR netradio]


Edith Holm Sondergaard was born February 15, 1899 in Litchfield, Minnesota, the daughter of Hans T. and Kirstine (Holm) Sondergaard (Kirstine was the sister of Jens Christian Hansen Holm) She had two sisters, Ragni and Hester. Hester did radio acting in New York and was working in a movie called "Naked City" in 1947. Edith was later to become known on stage and in films as Gale Sondergaard. She was educated at the University of Minnesota and after graduation turned to the stage. After several years in stock" she made it to Broadway in the late 1920's. She married Neil O'Malley in 1922 and they were divorced in 1930.

In the mid 1930's Gale went to Hollywood with her second husband, (Director) Herbert Biberman. There, in 1936, she reluctantly accepted her first film role in "Anthony Adverse" According to the film industry "due to her outstanding performance" Gale received the first award ever given for the "Best Supporting Actress" category in March 1937. In recognition of her performance she received a plaque. An Oscar was not given for this new category until the next year. In 1940 Gale and her husband adopted a little girl, Joan Kirstine.

By the late 1940's Gale was well established as Hollywood's #1 Female Villain. She subsequently played character parts in many films, typically cast as a catty, cunning or vicious woman. Gale had been given the part of the Wicked Witch in "Wizard of Oz". Due to her natural beauty they had difficulty making her appear "wicked"; she looked more like the stepmother in Snow White. After several attempts, much frustration, and another offer to appear in the movie "The Blue Bird" with Shirley Temple, Gale and the director of "Wizard" agreed to part company. This choice, however, was not good as the "Blue Bird" turned out to be a big flop.

About 1942 Gale and her husband adopted a little boy, Danny Hans

Gale played the title roles in "Spider Woman" in 1944 and "Spider Woman Strikes Back" in 1946. Her second nomination for "Best Supporting Actress" came in 1946 for her role as Lady Thiang in "Anna and The King of Siam".

Shortly after this, the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings (better known as the "Joe McCarthy Hearings") began. Sen. McCarthy was ruthless in hounding people, especially if they were connected to Hollywood. Gale was caught up in the "Red Scare" and on March 21, 1951 she took the 5th amendment and refused to testify. Like many other members of the film industry, neither Gale nor her husband could obtain work in films due to the ensuing blacklisting. After a long "retirement" she made her come-back in 1965 with "Woman", a one-woman off-Broadway show.

Gale's daughter died in 1966. There is no information on her son, Danny at this time. Gale returned to the silver screen in 1968 and was in several films. Her husband Herbert Biberman died June 30, 1971.

Between 1970 and 1981 Gale was kept busy making guest appearances in television programs and performed on stage throughout the country. After having been given a one day notice, Gale appeared at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1977 in "The Royal Family". The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer gave Gale rave reviews for her outstanding ability to take on the role of "Fanny Cavendish" after only a one day notice.

Gale Sondergaard died August 14, 1985 of cerebral vascular thrombosis. She was 86 years old.


1936. ANTHONY ADVERSE (as Faith Paleologus, with Fredric March & Olivia deHavilland). Awarded first ever “Best Supporting Actress Academy Award” (= Oscar).

1937. THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA (as Lucie Dreyfus). Opened Aug 11 in Hollywood Theater in New York. Best Picture)

MAID OF SALEM (as Martha Harding, with Claudett Colbert)


1938. DRAMATIC SCHOOL (as Madame Charlot)

LORD JEFF (as Doris Clandon)


1939. SONS OF LIBERTY (as Rachel Salomon)




JUAREZ (as Empress Eugenie)


1940. LLANO KID (as Lora Travers)

THE MARK OF ZORRO (as Inez Quintero, with Tyrone Power)

THE BLUE BIRD (as Tylette, the cat)

THE LETTER (as Mrs Hammond, with Betty Davis)

1941. PARIS CALLING (as Colette)

THE BLACK CAT (as the Housekeeper, w. Broderick Crawford & Bela Lugosi)

1942. MY FAVORITE BLOND (as Madam Stehanie Runick, with Bob Hope)



A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (as Mrs Devoe, with Loretta Young)

APPOINTMENT IN BERLIN (as Gretta Van Leyden)

ISLE OF FORGOTTEN SINS (as Margie Willison)


1944. SPIDER WOMAN (as Andrea Spedding, with B. Rathbone). Played Title Role.


THE INVISIBLE MANS REVENGE (as Lady Irene Herrick, with John Carradine)

ENTER ARSENE LUPIN (as Bessie Seagrave)

THE CLIMAX (as Louise)


FOLLOW THE BOYS (as Herself)

GYPSY WILDCAT (as Rhoda, with Maria Montez)

1946. THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (as Emily, with Abbott & Costello)

Aka. The Ghost Steps Out

SPIDER WOMAN STRIKES BACK (as Zenobia Dollard, title role)


ANNA & THE KING OF SlAM (as Lady Thiang, with Irene Dunn & Rex Harrison). Nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

1947. ROAD TO RIO (as Catherine Vail, with Bob Hope & Bing Crosby)

PIRATES OF MONTEREY (as Senorita De Sola)

1949. EASTSIDE WESTSIDE (as Nora Kernan with Barbara Stamwyck & James Mason)


1968! SAVAGE INTRUDER (with John Garfield)



1969. SLAVES (as a New Orleans lady, directed by her husband, Herbert Biberman)

1976. PLEASANTVILLE (as Ora)


1976. RETURN OF A MAN CALLED HORSE (as Elk Woman, with Richard Harris). She got an Oscar as “Best Supporting Actress”, [overrakt af Charlton Heston]


1983. ECHOES (as Mrs Edmunds)



1970 THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, A TV Series (as Amanda Key)

1970 NIGHT GALLERY (as Abigail Moore in episode # 2.30 11/24/1971 "The Dark Boy")

1973 THE CAT CREATURE (as Hester Black)

1978 CENTENNIAL (as Aunt Agusta, a TV mini series)

1981 THE FALL GUY (as Mrs Jackson in episode # 1.11 12/9/1981 "Human Torch" )



GALE SONDERGAARD (by Fanny Cavendish)

Gale Sondergaard's roles in motion pictures are legend. Her very first screen appearance won her an Academy Award for her supporting role in ANTHONY ADVERSE, and she was again nominated for her memorable performance in ANNA AND THE KING OF SlAM. Her films include such classics as SEVENTH HEAVEN, THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA. JUAREZ, THE LETTER, THE MARK OF ZORRO, THE SPIDER WOMAN, and SLAVES, which was directed by her late husband Herbert Biberman. In her most recent Film she co-starred with Richard Harris in THE RETURN OF A MAN CALLED HORSE. Television audiences have seen her in a number of guest star appearances on such popular series as IT TAKES A THIEF. THE BOLD ONES. NIGHT GALLERY. THE LAWYERS and an ABC Movie of the Week, THE CAT CREATURE.

A native of Litchfield, Minnesota, Miss Sondergaard graduated from the Minneapolis School of Dramatic Art and the University of Minnesota, where she later received the 'outstanding achievement award' for her work in the field of acting. Alter touring with a Shakespearean Company and working with the Bonstelle Company in Detroit she was signed to a Theatre Guild contract in New York where she followed Judith Anderson as 'Nina' in STRANGE INTERLUDE. and appeared in a succession of important roles in productions, including MAJOR BARBARA, FAUST and THE AMERICAN DREAM. At the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis she played the leading role of "Claire" in Duerrenmatt's THE VISIT, as well as roles in ENRICO IV and TANGO. At the Mark Taper Forum she was seen in UNCLE VANYA, and at the Ahmanson in THE CRUCIBLE with Charlton Heston.

Seattle audiences will remember her appearance here at the Rep four seasons ago in A FAMILY AND A FORTUNE. She received rave notices for her performance in Ibsens JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN at New York's Roundobout Theotre and most recently she has been touring in the role of 'Fanny Cavendish' with the National Company of THE ROYAL FAMILY

The Seattle Repertory Theatre extends its special thanks to Miss Sondergaord who, in the true tradition of the theatre stepped in on short notice to accept this demanding role.

Sondergaard new head of Rep 'Family'

by Wayne Johnson , Oct. 24, 1977 1977

Arts and Entertainment editor

A couple of venerable maxims - “The show must go on" and “Third time is a charm" are involved in the show outside-a-show which the Seattle Repertory Theater has been playing out in recent weeks. Things have gone less than royally with the Rep's preparation to open "The Royal Family" Wednesday night at the Seattle Center Playhouse opened as the first show in the rep's season. The title family in the play which Edna Ferber and George S Kaufman wrote in 1927 is clearly the Barrymore’s, and the theatrical matriarch is Fanny. Her real life counterpart was Mrs. John Drew, the grandmother of Ethyl and John Barrymore.

The role of Fanny Cavandish is of central importance to the play, and the Rep originally engaged Kathleen Nesbitt, a distinguished actress to play the role. Two weeks into rehearsals, however Miss Nesbitt experienced serious problems with her voice and it was medically necessary for her to leave the production. The Rep replaced her with Augusta French, a less well known actress but still a performer capable of being a fine, convincing Fanny Cavendish. But then last week - the final week of rehearsals for the show - Miss French became ill, and she, too, had to leave the company.

Rep officials then telephoned Gale Sondergaard at her Los Angeles home. Could she (pray God) come up and play Fanny Cavandish - please? Miss Sondergaard, a superb and widely experienced stage actress (she last appeared on stage here In the Rep's "A Family and a Fortune" in 1974), said "yes."

She arrived at Sea-Tac Friday morning, was taken directly to wardrobe for costume fittings. Then into rehearsal - and Saturday night she went on as Fanny Cavendish in the Rep's first preview performance of "The Royal Family".

"It's not quite as showbizzy miraculous as I’ve made it seem”. Miss Sondergaard was, happily, familiar with the role. Just five weeks ago she completed touring for more than five months as Fanny Cavendish in the national company of “The Royal family”.

The show will go on, and considering Miss Sondergaard’s abilities, the third time is likely to be quite charming indeed.

Makes Comeback from Blacklist By Bob Thomas

HOLLYWOOD (ap) – Another film figure who came back from the blacklist : Gale Sondergaard.

The name conjures a flock of memoirs … the flashing-eyed beauty who won in 1936 the first Oscar presented to a supporting actress … the versatile actress who played everything from great men’s wives to dragon ladies … the political activist who defied congressional investigators and hence wrote an end to her movie career.

Miss Sondergaard is back in films after a 21-year absence. She recently co-starred with Miriam Hopkins and John Garfield Jr. in a movie with the apt title of “Comback”. She has also played TV guest-star roles as “Get Smart” and “It takes a Thief.”

Later this month she begins a three-year contract on a daytime drama for ABC, “The Best of Everything”, based on the Rona Jaffe novel.

Miss Sondergaard was one of the last persons to return to active employment in films and television after the demise of the blacklist. She and her husband, director Herbert Biberman, had been named Communist party members in testimony before congressional committees. They quickly found studio doors closed to them.

“If you were named, you didn’t work; it was as simple as that,” she says.

She is reluctant to talk about those years, but she does comment that she has no regrets: “I never felt bitter about what happened. I felt that I had been a part of history, and that made me proud.”

Her film career had started in 1936 with “Anthony Adverse”, which won her the Oscar. She smiled as she recalled the character she played: “In the book the woman was the mistress of Adverse, but that wasn’t allowed in those days. We got the idea across with merely a look. Not like movies today”.

Somehow film buffs classify her as an oriental lady of quiet cruelty. “Yet I only played two Orientals – in “The letter” and “Anna and the King of Siam”. And few of my roles were cruel. I did play the whip-lashing sister in “Seventh Heaven”, but then I followed that with Mrs. Zola and Empress Eugenie in “Juarez”.

“The life of Emile Zola”, in whish she appeared with Paul Muni, was her favourite film. The Academy chose it best picture of 1937.

The Biberman’s remained in Hollywood after the blacklist. Raising their two children in the same large house they have lived in. “I don’t consider those were lost years”, the actress said. Instead of being so busy with my career, I got to know my children. My husband and I learned how to live, one way or another; the struggle for a living can be an ennobling experience. I was lucky to have a husband who is a fount of creativity. He was always working on some project for the future. He never gave up hope that we would be working again”.

Hollywood Actress. Hollywood Skuespillerinde. Fik en Oscar i 1937 i kategorien "Bedste Kvindelige Birolle". 1937 var det første år nogensinde, at der blev afholdt Oscar- uddeling.Fik yderligere en Oscar-nominering, og fik i 1976 en "lifetime achievement Oscar" overrakt af Charlston Heston. Den var samtidig en Oscar-Statuette, som vi kender den i dag - en gylden mandsfigur. Den første Oscar var en platte. Spillede i sine film bl.a sammen med Bette Davis og Bob Hope - indspillede 4 film med Bob Hope. Spillede mest bi - roller, heraf tilnavnet "bi - rollernes Dronning". Havde dog også hovedrollen i filmen "Spiderwoman" fra 1944. Karrieren stagnerede i forbindelse med FBI's undersøgelser af ægteparret for kommunistisk aktivitet i starten af 1950'erne.. Fik en Oscar i 1937 for filmen fra 1936 " Anthony Adverse", spillede rollen "Faith Paleologue" (hendes filmdebut). Nomineret 2. Gang i 1946 i kategorien " bedste kvindelige birolle" for filmen " Anna and the King of Siam", hvor hun spillede "King's principal wife". Her vandt hun ikke. I 2000 blev der lavet en film, " One of the Hollywood Ten", hvor Sondergaard og Biberman blev portrætteret. Rollen som Sondergaard blev spillet af Greta Scacchi, Jeff Goldblum spillede Biberman. Gift i 1922 med skuespilleren Neill O'Malley, skilt i 1930. Gift 15. Maj 1930 med Herbert Joseph Biberman. Deres 2 børn er adopteret.

Informeret om artikel her, men ikke kontrolleret: "Danske skæbner og eventyr", i samarb. m. Nordisk Slægtsforskning, nr. 6 2016.

view all 12

Gale Sondergaard's Timeline

February 15, 1899
Litchfield, Minnesota, United States
December 31, 1940
Georgia, United States
December 11, 1942