A distinguished actress of the US stage, Collinge made her London debut at age ten and was performing on Broadway by the time she was 14. Primarily a character actress, she also played leading roles, and won considerable acclaim for her heartfelt, nuanced acting, writes Ivor Casey.


Charming and cheerful as well as sincere and sympathetic are some of the characteristics which help describe the performances of Irish-born actress and author Patricia Collinge, who went from being a busy stage actress since her childhood to appearing in TV shows and some classic Hollywood movies including Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow Of A Doubt (1943).

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the actress who made an impression in her varied selection of performances between the theatre, TV and the silver screen.
Born Eileen Cecillia ‘Patricia’ Collinge on 20 September, 1892, to Emma Russell and Frederick Channon Collinge at 40, Dawson Street, Dublin, Patricia was sent to piano and dancing lessons as a child but she soon developed a desire for acting.

Following the family’s move to England while she was still a child Patricia gained a role at the age of twelve playing a Chinese doll in a performance of ‘The Little Black Sambo’ at London’s Garrick Theatre. Her father, who was a church music composer and musical director, immigrated to America around this time and Patricia and her mother later followed, setting sail from Southampton for New York in 1908.

In America, she was soon to be found appearing on Broadway starting with small parts in productions such as The Queen of the Moulin Rougue, performed at the Circle Theatre. In 1910 she appeared in ‘The Thunderbolt’, which was staged at The New Theatre, now known as The Century Theatre in Manhatten. This was followed in 1911 with a small part in ‘Everywoman’ which was staged at three different theatres in New York during its run and in 1913 Patricia was cast in the part of Agnes Gates in ‘The New Henrietta’, at the Knickerbocker Theatre.

More parts followed in a mixture of different shows but by 1915 Patricia had gained more credence as an actress and was cast as Pollyanna in the original stage production of ‘Pollyanna’ which started out in Chicago and which Collinge performed across the United States including at the Hudson Theatre in New York over the following three years. This was followed by a tour with the play ‘Tillie’ in 1919 with Patricia once again in the lead role.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own