No question that Jean Simmons, from her teenage years on, proved to be a magnetic screen personality. (A glance at the photo above pretty much explains why.)
The British-born actress, who became a U.S. citizen in 1956, costarred in some big studio productions of the Fifties and early Sixties. Five years after her first marriage, to actor Stewart Granger (remember him in 1950’s King Solomon’s Mines?), she costarred with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando in the 1955 movie version of the musical Guys and Dolls.
She and Granger, who was a British romantic leading man, had acted with Simmons in 1945’s Caesar and Cleopatra and 1949’s Adam and Evelyne. There was no gainsaying the romantic sparks generated then between the two.
When Granger was lured to Hollywood by an MGM contract, Simmons dutifully followed. The two commenced their 10-year marriage in late 1950. That union, which ended in divorce, was followed in the fall of 1960 by Simmons’ second and final marriage, to writer director Richard Brooks, who had over a distinguished career been involved in some of studio Hollywood’s finest productions.
Her marriage to Brooks produced, among other things, one of Simmons’ best known credits — as “Sister Sharon” opposite Burt Lancaster in 1960’s Elmer Gantry. Then came a turn opposite Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus. By then Simmons was a genuine, big-box office star.
Ok, what else do you know about our Quiz subject? Let’s get to our answers, one of which we’ve already answered. To review the questions just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: b) and d). See introduction above.
2) Answer: c) Both Simmons and Brooke Shields (c) costarred in movie versions of The Blue Lagoon. It a Victorian tale set in the steamy South Pacific of a well-tanned young couple stranded on a deserted island and coping with nature — notably budding sexual urges. A young Brooke made her Hollywood version in 1980. Simmons appeared in a British version in 1949.
3) Answer: d) 1952’s Angel Face. This excellent film noir costars Simmons opposite Robert Mitchum. British critic David Thomson praises her performances as a”wide-eyed murderess” in “one of (director) Otto Preminger’s most refined studies of obsession.” If you haven’t seen this one, do so immediately.
4) Answer: a) True. Simmons was indeed director William Wyler’s first choice for the “Princess Ann” role in 1953’s Roman Holiday. But at the time she was under contract to Howard Hughes at RKO, and he refused to loan her out to Paramount for the picture. The result: Audrey Hepburn burst upon the movie world in all her splendor.
5) Answer: c) Alcoholism. Simmons warded off casting disappointments (and there were more than a few) with alcohol. Things got so bad that she sought professional treatment in the mid-Fifties. The problem was given as one contribution to her divorce from second husband, Richard Brooks.