GREER GARSON: PART 6

Just as Norma Shearer had done before her, Greer Garson also objected to the idea of playing the mother of a grown son in MRS. MINIVER.  The actress could easily appear older on screen, as she had done in BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST– that was not the problem.  Instead, Greer voiced different concerns.  Liberties had been taken with the story, and Greer felt it did not make sense that the Minivers would have very young children and then one much older who was coming home from college.  MGM’s screenwriters had made this change and aged one of the boys in order to facilitate a romantic storyline featuring Teresa Wright.  Despite Greer’s objections to this, she was convinced by Mr. Mayer to take the part.

1neyThe actor hired to play the Miniver son was Richard Ney, and he had recently visited the lot to see a friend and wound up being put under contract at MGM.  This was his first important role.

Since Ney was new to the studio, he did not understand the pecking order and while everyone else put Greer up on a pedestal, he was much more casual and conversational with her.  She welcomed his candidness, seeing it as a refreshing change and the chance to develop a more personal bond with a costar.  However, Ney had been instantly smitten with Greer, and he wasted no time revealing his romantic intentions towards her.  In front of others, he began to openly pursue her.  Flattered by the attention, she was overtaken by his charms, and they began an unusual courtship during filming.

th-17Greer was 37 years old when MRS. MINIVER was filmed, and Ney was 26.  Mr. Mayer quickly learned about the off-camera relationship between Greer and Ney.  He insisted that no publicity about it reach audiences until after MRS. MINIVER had completed its theatrical run.  He felt it would be distasteful for movie patrons to learn Mrs. Miniver and her son were in love.  And that they were planning to get married.

Tomorrow: The Garson-Ney marriage is in trouble.

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