Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Born Today in 1920: Iconic Movie Star Montgomery Clift

Montgomery Clift was born today October 17, in 1920, in Omaha, Nebraska.  He was an American film and stage actor. The New York Times’ obituary of Clift noted his portrayal of "moody, sensitive young men." He was also considered one of the most beautiful men ever on the silver screen.

He is best remembered for roles in Red River, The Heiress, George Stevens's A Place in the Sun, as a Catholic priest in Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess, as the self-destructive soldier Prewitt in From Here to Eternity, and as a mentally challenged, sterilized concentration camp survivor in Judgment at Nuremberg

He received four Academy Award nominations during his career: three for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor, but never won.

Clift was bisexual, although his relationships with men were not public knowledge during his career. His attraction to men was later confirmed by his long-time friend Elizabeth Taylor during a speech at the 2000 GLAAD Media Awards. Clift reportedly had affairs with choreographer Jerome Robbins and fellow actor Roddy McDowall, who was rumored to have attempted suicide after his breakup with Clift.

After a successful stage career in New York, Clift moved to Hollywood at the age of 25. His first movie role was opposite John Wayne in Red River, which was shot in 1946 and released in 1948. His second movie was The Search. Clift was unhappy with the quality of the script, and edited it himself. The movie was awarded a screenwriting Academy Award for the credited writers. Clift's naturalistic performance led to director Fred Zinnemann's being asked, "Where did you find a soldier who can act so well?" and he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Clift's performance in 1951's A Place in the Sun is regarded as one of his signature method acting performances. He worked extensively on his character and was again nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. For his character's scenes in jail, Clift spent a night in a real state prison. His main acting rival (and fellow Omaha, Nebraska native), Marlon Brando, was so moved by Clift's performance that he voted for Clift to win the Academy Award for Best Actor and was sure that he would win.

On the evening of May 12, 1956, while filming Raintree County, Clift was involved in a serious auto accident when he apparently fell asleep while driving and smashed his car into a telephone pole minutes after leaving a dinner party at the Beverly Hills home of his close friend and co-star, Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor raced to Clift's side, manually pulling a tooth out of his tongue as he had begun to choke on it. 

Clift never physically or emotionally recovered from his car accident. His post-accident career has been referred to as the "longest suicide in Hollywood history" by famed acting teacher Robert Lewis because of Clift's alleged subsequent abuse of painkillers and alcohol.

Clift's last nomination for an Academy Award was for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Judgment at Nuremberg in 1961, a 12-minute supporting part.

Clift died on July 23, 1966, from a heart attack at age 45 brought on by "occlusive coronary artery disease." It is commonly believed that drug addiction was responsible for Clift's many health problems and his death. 

1 comment:

Raybeard said...

He really was a good-looker in the 'classic' sense, and I find it easy to understand why so many (of both sexes) swooned over him. (Didn't know about the Roddy McD angle, which only goes to show how much is still not talked about, at least not openly.)