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Jean Simmons Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (6) | Trivia (28) | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 31 January 1929Crouch Hill, London, England, UK
Date of Death 22 January 2010Santa Monica, California, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameJean Merilyn Simmons
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Demure British beauty Jean Simmons was born January 31, 1929 in Crouch End, London. As a 14-year-old dance student, she was plucked from her school to play Margaret Lockwood's precocious sister in Give Us the Moon (1944), and she went on to make a name for herself in such major British productions as Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), Great Expectations (1946) (as the spoiled, selfish Estella), Black Narcissus (1947) (as a sultry native beauty), Hamlet (1948) (playing Ophelia to Laurence Olivier's great Dane and earning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination), The Blue Lagoon (1949) and So Long at the Fair (1950), among others.

In 1950, she married actor Stewart Granger, and that same year, starred in the Frank Sinatra/Marlon Brando musical Guys and Dolls (1955); she used her own singing voice and earned her first Golden Globe Award. Simmons divorced Granger in 1960 and almost immediately married writer-director Richard Brooks, who cast her as Sister Sharon opposite Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry (1960), a memorable adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis novel. That same year, she co-starred with Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960) and played a would-be homewrecker opposite Cary Grant in The Grass Is Greener (1960).

Off the screen for a few years, Jean captivated moviegoers with a brilliant performance as the mother in All the Way Home (1963), a literate, tasteful adaptation of James Agee's "A Death in the Family". However, after that, she found quality projects somewhat harder to come by, and took work in Life at the Top (1965), Mister Buddwing (1966), Divorce American Style (1967), Rough Night in Jericho (1967), The Happy Ending (1969) (a Richard Brooks film for which she was again Oscar-nominated, this time as Best Actress).

Jean continued making films well into the 1970s. In the 1980s, she appeared mainly in television miniseries, such as North and South (1985) and The Thorn Birds (1983). She made a comeback to films in 1995 in How to Make an American Quilt (1995) co-starring Winona Ryder and Anne Bancroft, and most recently played the elderly Sophie in the English version of Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle (2004). She now resided in Santa Monica, California, with her dog, Mr. Gates, and her two cats, Adisson and Megan. Jean Simmons died of lung cancer on January 22, 2010, nine days before her 81st birthday.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: kdhaisch@aol.com

Spouse (2)

Richard Brooks (1 November 1960 - 1977) (divorced) (1 child)
Stewart Granger (20 December 1950 - 12 August 1960) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (6)

Often played mildly rebellious characters
Her captivating beauty
Natural brunette hair
Sparkling green eyes
Demure demeanor
Rich, formal voice

Trivia (28)

Daughter, with Richard Brooks, Kate Brooks. Daughter, with Stewart Granger, Tracy Granger.
Turned down the role of Jean Pargetter on the British television series As Time Goes By (1992), which went to Judi Dench.
Becoming depressed at the lack of quality parts being offered her, Jean became addicted to alcohol. In 1986, she sought professional treatment.
She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2003 New Year's Honours List for her services to acting.
In America from the early 1950s, Jean found out that RKO head Howard Hughes had purchased the remaining six months of her Rank Studio contract. When Hughes claimed that an oral agreement with Rank precluded her from being loaned out to any other studio, she sued RKO. The legal battle raged for over a year. When the suit was finally settled, RKO had a three-year contract for Jean's services, but was obligated to pay her $250,000 in addition to her legal fees. Furthermore, she won the right to work on loan to other studios at a substantial salary.
In 1958, she accepted the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role on behalf of Alec Guinness, who was not present at the awards ceremony.
Even before her American debut, she was revered and beloved by both the British critics and filmgoers. By the end of 1950, she was the #4 box office attraction, American or British, in British cinema.
In the late 1970s, she and daughter Kate Brooks lived in the Litchfield County town of New Milford, Connecticut. They later returned to their longtime California home in Santa Monica.
As of 2013, she is one of six women who has received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for a performance directed by her spouse, namely for The Happy Ending (1969) directed by Richard Brooks. The other five are Elisabeth Bergner for Escape Me Never (1935) (directed by Paul Czinner), Joanne Woodward for Rachel, Rachel (1968) (directed by Paul Newman), Gena Rowlands for A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980) (both directed by John Cassavetes), Julie Andrews for Victor Victoria (1982) (directed by Blake Edwards), and Frances McDormand for Fargo (1996) (directed by Joel Coen). Jules Dassin also directed his future wife Melina Mercouri in a Best Actress Oscar nominated performance (Never on Sunday (1960)), but they were not married yet at the time of the nomination.
In Italy, most of her films were dubbed by Fiorella Betti. She was occasionally dubbed by Dhia Cristiani during the mid-1950s, most notably in The Robe (1953). Other actresses like Miranda Bonansea, Rosetta Calavetta and Rina Morelli also lent their voice to Simmons at some point. From the 1960s onwards, Maria Pia Di Meo became her official Italian voice.
She was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of her outstanding contribution to film culture.
Was William Wyler's first choice for the role of Princess Ann in Roman Holiday (1953), but Howard Hughes, who owned her contract, would not loan her out to Paramount to do the film.
Her mother was Winifred Aida Loveland. Her father, Charles Simmons, won a bronze medal in the Olympics for Great Britain in artistic gymnastics and died of an ulcer when Jean was age 16.
Became a United States citizen in 1956.
Director Richard Brooks claimed that he wrote The Happy Ending (1969), the filmed story of an alcoholic wife (played by Simmons) as a way to tell his wife that she herself had a problem. The marriage eventually broke up due to Simmons' drinking and Brooks' workaholic tendencies.
She and Marlon Brando were originally supposed to lip-sync their songs in the musical film Guys and Dolls (1955). Samuel Goldwyn heard them during rehearsal and decided the untrained stars should do their own singing for authenticity.
Her Hamlet (1948) co-star Laurence Olivier urged the young actress to perfect her craft on the stage; instead, she decided to follow her future husband Stewart Granger to Hollywood.
She is survived by her daughters, Tracy Granger and Kate Brooks, and one grandson, Ty Saville.
According to Richard Burton's biography "And God Created Burton", Simmons had an affair with the actor when they were filming The Robe (1953) together.
She was the only guest star on the television series Murder, She Wrote (1984) to receive an Emmy Award nomination (1989).
Gave birth to her 1st child at age 27, a daughter Tracy Stewart Granger, aka Tracy Granger, on September 10, 1956. Child's father is her 1st ex-husband, Stewart Granger.
Gave birth to her 2nd child at age 32, a daughter Kate Charlene Brooks, aka Kate Brooks, on July 9, 1961. Child's father is her 2nd ex-husband, Richard Brooks.
Jean Simmons passed away on January 22, 2010, only nine days before what would have been her 81st birthday on January 31.
Is one of 20 actresses who did not receive an Oscar nomination for their Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical Golden Globe-winning performance; hers being for Guys and Dolls (1955). The others, in chronological order, are: June Allyson for Too Young to Kiss (1951), Ethel Merman for Call Me Madam (1953), Taina Elg and Kay Kendall for Les Girls (1957), Marilyn Monroe for Some Like It Hot (1959), Rosalind Russell for A Majority of One (1961) and Gypsy (1962), Patty Duke for Me, Natalie (1969), Twiggy for The Boy Friend (1971), Raquel Welch for The Three Musketeers (1973), Barbra Streisand for A Star Is Born (1976), Bernadette Peters for Pennies from Heaven (1981), Kathleen Turner for Romancing the Stone (1984) and Prizzi's Honor (1985), Miranda Richardson for Enchanted April (1991), Jamie Lee Curtis for True Lies (1994), Nicole Kidman for To Die For (1995), Madonna for Evita (1996), Renée Zellweger for Nurse Betty (2000), Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), and Amy Adams for Big Eyes (2014).
She starred in two adaptations of Charles Dickens' 1861 novel "Great Expectations": Great Expectations (1946) and Great Expectations (1989). She played Estella in the former and Miss Havisham in the latter.
She has two roles in common with Helena Bonham Carter: (1) Simmons played Ophelia in Hamlet (1948) while Bonham Carter played her in Hamlet (1990) and (2) Simmons played Miss Havisham in Great Expectations (1989) while Bonham Carter played her in Great Expectations (2012).
Received her first on-screen kiss from Tony Wager in Great Expectations (1946).
Was reportedly a candidate for the role of Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (1949).

Personal Quotes (8)

[on Spartacus (1960)] Making Spartacus was enough acting to last anybody a lifetime. You know, after we had been filming a year Kirk Douglas sent me a magnum of champagne with a little note saying, "I hope our second year will be as happy as our first.".
[on working with William Wyler in The Big Country (1958)] The atmosphere [on set] felt very dodgy - the sort of prevailing tension that invites paranoia, causes you to wonder, "What have I done?"... I guess Willy was in a position to know what it took to achieve great performances, but he also seemed bent on making things difficult... and there was all that constant rewriting. We'd have our lines learned, then receive a rewrite, stay up all night learning the new version, then receive yet another rewrite the following morning. It made the acting damned near impossible. In Willy's favor, he was very agreeable in allowing me to think, and think, and think, and then think some more before I made my reply to [Gregory Peck's] offer. I felt a prompt answer would not serve the moment, and Willy proved most open and agreeable on that count. He could make you worry - order take after take without ever telling you what you were doing to provoke the retakes - he could also cause you to feel a sense of collaboration.
[on Spartacus (1960)] I remember a long, long day of filming and it took forever to get Kirk Douglas up on his cross. We played a terrible joke on him when, as he was safely installed, the assistant director called lunch and left him up there. He could have had the lot of us fired but he was very good about it. You have to have a sense of humor in this industry.
[on the studio system] I had to do four pictures for [Howard Hughes], and then I was free. I never signed a contract with a studio after.
My career has had a lot of ups and downs, but basically it has been wonderful.
If I hadn't gone to dancing school, I would have married and had children like my mum and had a normal life.
Every actress has to face the facts there are younger, more beautiful girls right behind you. Once you've gone beyond the vanity of the business, you'll take on the tough roles.
[on her first Academy Award Nomination in 1949] I didn't even know what an Oscar was at the time.

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