Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Orkney at the Oscars

Today in 1953, the Oscars were broadcast on television for the first time. 11 years earlier, the best actress award had been won by Greer Garson for the film Mrs Miniver. Garson had also played Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice in 1940.

Although she is probably best known for giving the longest Oscars acceptance speech EVER (some stories say an hour, although it was apparently only 5 minutes), with a name like Garson, she obviously has some interest for Orkney family historians.

Early biographies had suggested an Irish heritage but Greer Garson was born in London to George Garson, a commercial clerk whose father, Peter Garson, had been born and brought up in Kirkness, Sandwick. Peter married Jean Firth of Kirkwall and St. Ola parish in 1860 and the couple had two children in Orkney before moving to London and having George.

If you look at the distribution of the Garson name in Britain, then this Orcadian link is not terribly astonishing.

Born Eileen, Greer was Garson's mother's maiden name. If you are bored today, Orkney Library and Archive invite you to work out your own 40s film-star names. Don't write in, it's just for fun...

Information taken from the Sib Folk News #10, June 1999.

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