She was a thinking man’s favorite on both sides of the Atlantic, a real box office draw in her native England as well as in Hollywood.
She was married twice to consequential men in the domestic movie community, and contractually outmaneuvered one of Hollywood’s most fabled studio bosses. (Hint: his initials are H.H., and he ran RKO.)
Jean Simmons, born in Couch Hill, London in 1929, began her movie career in British-made films at the ripe age of 15. Among the heavyweight titles she appeared in the mid-Forties were Caesar and Cleopatra and director David Lean’s Great Expectations.
She playing a dancing girl in Michael Powell’s Black Narcissus and a blond Ophelia in Laurence Olivier’s 1948 Hamlet adaptation. Her role in the latter won her a best supporting actress Oscar nomination.
The Hollywood leg of her career commenced in 1950, and lasted for all intents and purposes more than a half-century later. Simmons costarred in some key pictures in the Fifties and early Sixties. In all, she wound up participating in some 95 film and tv productions. She died of lung cancer in 2010, nine days before her 81st birthday.
Ok. Let’s see how much you know about Jean Simmons. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Simmons famously married and divorced two of the following. Can you identify which ones? a) Tony Curtis; b) Stewart Granger; c) Richard Burton; or d) Richard Brooks.
2) Question: What do Jean Simmons and Brooke Shields have in common? a) They are both actresses; b) They both were propelled in their careers by pushy “stage moms;” c) They both starred in The Blue Lagoon; or d) none of the above.
3) Question: One of Simmons’ most praised Hollywood performance came in a film noir directed by Otto Preminger. Can you identify the title? a) This Could Be The Night; b) A Bullet Is Waiting; c) This Earth Is Mine; or d) Angel Face.
4) Question: Simmons was the first choice to play the princess in Roman Holiday, director William Wyler’s 1953 showcase for Audrey Hepburn. a) True; or b) False.
5) Question: For much of her career, Simmons was plagued by which one of the following? a) Debt collectors; b) Drug addiction; c) Alcoholism; or d) Sex addiction.