Healy, (William) Gerard (1918–63), actor and playwright, was born 17 August 1918 in the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, son of Bartle Healy, fruit merchant, and Mary Healy (née Hayden). Educated at Synge St. CBS, he was first employed as a counter assistant at a Dublin drapery store. He meanwhile joined the Abbey School of Acting before Micheál MacLiammóir (qv) offered him the position of assistant stage manager to the Gate Theatre. He toured with the company to Egypt and the Balkans, before leaving for the Abbey Theatre in 1939. The Abbey produced his first play, ‘Thy dear father’ (1943), on 30 August under the direction of Frank Dermody, a psychological drama that charts the decline of an artisan family; its central character, Jack Dooley, succumbs to madness under the strain of financial debt. Healy left the Abbey in 1944 to found the Players’ Theatre in 1945. This company produced his second play, ‘The black stranger’ (1945), at the Cork Opera House on 26 February and at the Gate Theatre on 6 March. Set during the famine, it shows the relentless march of hunger through rural smallholdings. The BBC televised it in 1959. His Players' Company disbanded after an unsuccessful season at the Olympia Theatre in 1945, and tuberculosis forced him to abandon acting for a period. He survived by writing radio notes for the Irish Times and documentaries for Radio Éireann. Austin Clarke (qv) also employed him as a member of Clarke's verse-speaking radio team. He made frequent appearances on Irish television and wrote scripts for government public information features. Chosen by the Cultural Relations Committee to represent Ireland, he directed ‘Candide’ at the Paris International Theatre Festival. His last role was that of the Jesuit in a 1963 production of Hugh Leonard's ‘Stephen D’ (1962) at St Martin's Theatre, London. Taken ill after a performance, he died in a London hospital on 9 March 1963. His body was returned to Dublin, where it was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery. He married (1942) the actress Eithne Dunne (qv) and left one daughter.
Lennox Robinson, Ireland's Abbey Theatre (1951); Ir. Times, 11, 13 Mar. 1963; Christopher Fitz-Simon, The Irish theatre (1982)