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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 9 June 1917Wilmington, Delaware, USA
Date of Death 15 August 2005Topanga, California, USA  (complications from Parkinson's disease)

Mini Bio (1)

The meek, docile, child-like aura and unassuming tiny frame of this veteran character lady belied a surprising survivor instinct and strong, liberal fortitude.

Actress Herta Ware was born Herta Schwartz in 1917 in Wilmington, Delaware, to Helen (Ware), a musician and violin teacher, and Lazlo Schwartz, an actor. Her uncle was activist Harold Ware. Her father was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant from Budapest, and her mother was a many-generations American of colonial stock. Her maternal grandfather was a union activist who joined the Socialist Party in America during the early 1900s, and her maternal grandmother was labor organizer and socialist Ella Reeve Bloor.

Ware began acting in plays in New York City in the 1930s. She made her Broadway debut in "Let Freedom Ring", co-starring husband Will Geer. The couple appeared together in other New York plays as well, including "Bury the Dead" (1936), "Prelude" (1936), "200 Were Chosen" (1936) and "Journeyman (1938). The politically-minded couple moved to Los Angeles in the early 1940s and settled in Santa Monica where Geer pursued a movie career. The couple had three children. In 1951, the passionately liberal Geer was blacklisted by Hollywood for taking the Fifth Amendment and refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Financially strapped with his film career destroyed, they eventually lost their Los Angeles home.

Geer and Ware subsequently co-founded the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum on land that Herta bought in Topanga Canyon. The theater remained an invitation for targeted artists to continue to hone their creative skills. Outspoken friends and performers such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger frequently came to their aid and often promoted and performed in their outside productions. The burgeoning theater officially opened as a summer theater in 1973. Will and Herta divorced in the 1950s but remained steadfast friends. She published her own memoir "Fantastic Journey, My Life with Will Geer" in 2000 and was at Geer's bedside when he passed away of a respiratory ailment in 1978. Herta continued performing at the Botanicum as the "Matriarch of the Topanga Community." By age 60, she had moved occasionally into TV and movie-making playing sweet old things. She is probably best known for her role as the altruistic wife of grouchy oldster Jack Gilford in the popular senior citizen film Cocoon (1985),.

Among the credits during her long career, she played Capt. Jean Luc Picard's mother in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and appeared in such films as Soapdish (1991) and Practical Magic (1998). She also appeared on television in episodes of ER (1994), The Golden Girls (1985), Cagney & Lacey (1981), Knots Landing (1979), and other shows.

Many of her children and grandchildren have gone on to becoming performers at the Botanicum. Of her acting children Kate, Thad and Ellen (by actor Geer), Ellen Geer has been a longstanding artistic director of the theater. Her other daughter Melora Marshall, (by second husband/actor David Marshall) is also a consistently vibrant presence on the outdoor stage.

Herta Ware appeared in plays, films and TV shows and helped found the popular outdoor Southern California theater Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh and Austin R. Taylor

Spouse (2)

Will Geer (1934 - 1954) (divorced) (3 children)
David Marshall (? - ?) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (9)

Former wife of actor Will Geer; performs with her daughter, Ellen Geer at their theater founded by Will Geer, "Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum" in Topanga, Ca, USA.
It was Herta who brought the family to Topanga Canyon following husband Will Geer's Hollywood blacklisting. He was an eternal optimist and she was the realist and survivor. After losing their own in Santa Monica, and before their money ran out, Herta bought five acres in the canyon for $10,000, which would become the site for their popular outdoor theater. They lived off the land and became vegetarians.
Played Yvette Picard, the mother of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, on the Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) TV series.
Herta's daughter, Melora Marshall, portrayed her in a 1995 production at the Theatricum Botanicum entitled "And the Dark Cloud Came," the Geer's personal story of the McCarthy blacklisting and its effects. Herta played her own grandmother, labor activist Ella Reeve Bloor, in the family epic, and another daughter Ellen Geer co-directed the production.
Three children with Will Geer - Kate Geer, Ellen Geer and Thad Geer. She and Geer divorced in 1954 and Herta married again. Her fourth child, Melora Marshall, came from her second marriage to late actor David Marshall. Following Herta's second divorce, she and Will reunited in 1973 and moved back into their Topanga Canyon home with their children and forged the outdoor theater company.
She was the granddaughter of Ella Reeve Bloor, aka "Mother" Bloor, one of the most famous radical organizers of the 20th century and a co-founder of the Communist Party of the United States.
Ex-mother-in-law of Larry Linville.
Grandmother of Kelly Linville.
She and her daughter Ellen Geer both made guest appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and Beauty and the Beast (1987).

Personal Quotes (1)

Being blacklisted is a special thing. I'm going to try to describe it to you. First, you must realize that you'll never know what hit you. Your agent will smile and tell you to keep checking as work fades from both your memories. The position of importance you felt when you came into his office doesn't exist, and the phone rings - welcome excuse - the visit is over. The money that poured into his pocket from your labor is spent or stashed away. You are now expendable. Heartless - yes, and the net is so strong you cannot penetrate it - ever. You must redirect yourself and if you have the strength and luck, you may push through in spite of all. But it is catastrophic because it involves the ego, the actor's altogether necessary spine.

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