Edward Montgomery Clift (1920 - 1966) MP

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Death: Died in New York, NY, USA
Occupation: Actor
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About Edward Montgomery Clift

Edward Montgomery Clift (October 17, 1920 – July 23, 1966) was an American film actor. He was known for his brooding, sensitive working-class character roles. He received four Academy Award nominations during his career.

Clift was born in Omaha, Nebraska, a son of William Brooks Clift,[1] a vice-president of Omaha National Bank, and his wife, the former Ethel Fogg. Clift had a fraternal twin sister, Roberta (aka Ethel), and a brother, William Brooks Clift Jr (born 1918), who had an illegitimate son with actress Kim Stanley.

The future actor's mother, who was reportedly adopted at the age of one year, nicknamed "Sunny", spent part of her life and her husband's money seeking to establish the Southern lineage that reportedly had been revealed to her at age 18 by the physician who delivered her, Dr. Edward Montgomery, after whom she named her younger son. According to Clift biographer Patricia Bosworth, Ethel was the illegitimate daughter of Woodbury Blair and Maria Anderson, whose marriage had been annulled before her birth and subsequent adoption. This would make her a granddaughter of Montgomery Blair, Postmaster General under President Abraham Lincoln, and a great-granddaughter of Francis Preston Blair, a journalist and adviser to President Andrew Jackson, and Levi Woodbury, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. None of these relationships, however, has been proven and remain speculative in the absence of documentation.

As part of Sunny Clift's lifelong preparation for acceptance by her reported biological family (a goal never fully achieved), she raised Clift and his siblings as if they were aristocrats. Home-schooled by their mother as well as by private tutors in the United States and Europe, in spite of their father's fluctuating finances, they did not attend a regular school until they were in their teens. The adjustment was difficult, particularly for Montgomery. His performance as a student lagged behind that of his sister and brother.

Clift was educated in French, German, and Italian.

Appearing on Broadway at the age of 13, Clift achieved success on the stage and starred there for 10 years before moving to Hollywood, debuting in 1948's Red River opposite John Wayne.

Clift was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor that same year for The Search. His sensitive and intense quality gave him an image as the kind of person to be taken care of.

His love scenes with Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun (1951) represented a new standard for romance in cinema. His roles in A Place in the Sun, the 1953 classic From Here to Eternity, and The Young Lions (1958) were career milestones.

Clift and Marlon Brando, who was also born in Omaha, had reputations as Hollywood rivals because of their rapid rise to stardom and similar acting styles. Clift was one of James Dean's idols and he would sometimes call Clift "just to hear his voice".[2]

Clift reportedly turned down the starring roles in Sunset Boulevard and East of Eden.[citation needed] At one point he was receiving so many offers of roles that friends had to squeeze past stacks of them in order to walk up the stairs

On July 22, 1966, Clift spent most of the day in his bedroom in his New York City townhouse, 217 East 61st Street. He and his live-in personal secretary, Lorenzo James, had not spoken much all day. At 1 a.m., Lorenzo went up to say goodnight. The Misfits was on TV that night, and Lorenzo asked Clift if he wanted to watch it. "Absolutely NOT!" was the reply. This turned out to be the last time Montgomery Clift spoke to anyone. At 6 a.m. the next morning, Lorenzo went to wake him but found the bedroom door locked. Unable to break it down, he ran down to the garden and climbed a ladder to the bedroom window. When he got inside, he found Clift dead. He was undressed, lying on his back in bed, with glasses on and fists clenched.[5]

Clift's body was taken to the city morgue at 520 First Avenue and autopsied. The autopsy report cited the cause of death as a heart attack brought on by "occlusive coronary artery disease". No evidence was found that suggested foul play or suicide. It is commonly believed that addiction was responsible for Clift's many health problems and his death. In addition to lingering effects of dysentery and chronic colitis, an underactive thyroid was later revealed. A condition that (among other things) lowers blood pressure, it may have caused Clift to appear drunk or drugged when he was sober. (A further health issue, though unrelated, was that Clift underwent cataract surgery in his later years; afterward he had to wear glasses.)

Following a 15-minute ceremony at St. James Church attended by 150 guests including actresses Lauren Bacall and Nancy Walker, Clift was buried in the Quaker Cemetery, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York City. Elizabeth Taylor, who was in Paris, sent flowers, as did Roddy McDowall, Myrna Loy, and Lew Wasserman.

-------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montgomery_Clift

Edward Montgomery Clift (October 17, 1920 – July 23, 1966) was an American film and stage actor. The New York Times’ obituary noted his portrayal of "moody, sensitive young men". Clift received four Academy Award nominations during his career, three for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor.

Clift was born in Omaha, Nebraska, a son of William Brooks Clift, a vice-president of Omaha National Bank, and his wife, the former Ethel Fogg. Clift had a fraternal twin sister, Roberta (aka Ethel), and a brother, William Brooks Clift Jr (1918-1986), who had an illegitimate son with actress Kim Stanley. Montgomery Clift later resided in Jackson Heights, NY, until he got his break on Broadway.

The future actor's mother, who was reportedly adopted at the age of one year, nicknamed "Sunny", spent part of her life and her husband's money seeking to establish the Southern lineage that reportedly had been revealed to her at age 18 by the physician who delivered her, Dr. Edward Montgomery, after whom she named her younger son. According to Clift biographer Patricia Bosworth, Ethel was the illegitimate daughter of Woodbury Blair and Maria Anderson, whose marriage had been annulled before her birth and subsequent adoption. This would make her a granddaughter of Montgomery Blair, Postmaster General under President Abraham Lincoln, and a great-granddaughter of Francis Preston Blair, a journalist and adviser to President Andrew Jackson, and Levi Woodbury, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

As part of Sunny Clift's lifelong preparation for acceptance by her reported biological family (a goal never fully achieved), she raised Clift and his siblings as if they were aristocrats. Home-schooled by their mother as well as by private tutors in the United States and Europe, in spite of their father's fluctuating finances, they did not attend a regular school until they were in their teens. The adjustment was difficult, particularly for Montgomery. His performance as a student lagged behind that of his sister and brother.

Clift was educated in French, German, and Italian.

Early Film Career

Appearing on Broadway at the age of 13, Clift achieved success on the stage and starred there for 10 years before moving to Hollywood, debuting in 1948's Red River opposite John Wayne.

Clift's first movie was Red River, which he shot in 1946. However, due to production issues it wan't released until 1948. Clift's second movie was The Search. Clift was unhappy with the quality of the script, and rewrote most of it himself. The movie was nominated for a screenwriting Academy Award, but the original writers were credited instead. Clift's performance got him nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Symbolic of his naturalistic performance, director Fred Zinnemann was asked "where did you find a soldier who can act so well" about Clift.

Clift's next movie was The Heiress. He signed on for the movie in order to avoid being typecast. Clift again was unhappy with the script, and told friends that he wanted change his co-star Olivia De Havilland's lines because "she isn't giving me enough to respond." Clift also was unable to get along with most of the cast. He criticized De Havilland by saying that she let the director shape her entire performance.

The studio marketed Clift as a sex symbol prior to the movie's release in 1949. Clift had a large female following, and Olivia De Havilland was actually flooded with angry fan letters because her character rejects Clift's character in the final scene of the movie. Clift ended up unhappy with his performance, and left early during the movie's premiere. [5]

Clift's next movie was The Big Lift. Although Clift gave another critically acclaimed performance, the movie ended up being a box office bust. Clift was set to appear in Sunset Boulevard (which was written specifically for him) but he dropped out at the last minute, as he felt that his character was too close to him in real life (like his character he was good looking, and dating a much older richer woman.)

Prime Years

Entering the 1950's Clift was the most sought after leading man in Hollywood, and his only direct competitor was Marlon Brando. At one point he was receiving so many offers of roles that friends had to squeeze past stacks of them in order to walk up the stairs.[citation needed]. According to Elizabeth Taylor (as quoted in Patricia Bosworth's biography of Clift), "Monty could've been the biggest star in the world if he did more movies" (Clift was notoriously picky with his projects.)His next movie: A Place in the Sun (1951) is one of his iconic roles. The studio paired up two of the biggest young stars in Hollywood at the time (Clift and Elizabeth Taylor) in what was expected to be a Hollywood blockbuster that would capitalize on their sex symbol status.

Clift's performance in the movie is regarded as one of the signature Method acting performances. He worked extensively on his character and was once 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. He also refused to go along with the director George Stevens's suggestion that he do "something amazing" on his character's walk to the electric chair. Instead, he walked to his death with a natural, depressed facial expression. His love scenes with Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun (1951) represented a new standard for romance in cinema. His main acting rival 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 (ironically Clift voted for Brando in A Streetcar Named desire that same year). The movie was critically acclaimed and Charlie Chaplin called it "the greatest movie made about America". The movie received added media attention due to the rumors of Clift and Taylor dating in real life. They were billed as "the most beautiful couple in Hollywood". To this day many critics call Clift and Taylor as "the most beautiful Hollywood movie couple of all time".

Clift's next movie was I Confess. True to his method, Clift temporarily lived in a Catholic church and studied priests. The movie however, was a box office failure due to the controversy over Clift's character (a Catholic priest) being romantically involved with a woman.

Arguably Clift's peak came with the 1953 classic From Here to Eternity. Clift worked exceptionally hard on the character of Prewitt. For example, in one of his scenes he changed the word "blind" to "see", because he didn't feel the former. He also decided that his character would only reveal his feelings while playing the bugle. For this, he learned to play the bugle even though he knew that he would be dubbed by a professional bugler (he said that he wanted his lip movements to be accurate.) He acted his character's death scene so realistically, that many members of the cast and crew actually cried. His co-star Burt Lancaster revealed that he was so nervous about being out-acted by Clift, that he was shaking during their first scene together in the movie. Once again Clift received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Clift lost out to William Holden (who won for Stalag 17. Even Holden himself was surprised by his win. Allegedly, Clift was unpopular among the Hollywood elite for his refusal to conform to Hollywood standards (he refused to publicize his private life, avoided movie premieres and parties, was usually unavailable for interviews, and preferred to live outside of Los Angeles.) Clift was reportedly devastated over his loss, and was sent an honorary small golden bugle award by the movie's producers which he valued for the rest of his life.

Clift's final completely pre-accident movie was Terminal Station. Once again Clift's performance was critically acclaimed. However, the movie bombed at the box office due to its lackluster script.

Clift and Marlon Brando, who was also born in Omaha, had reputations as Hollywood rivals because of their rapid rise to stardom and similar acting styles. Clift was one of James Dean's idols and he would sometimes call Clift "just to hear his voice".

Clift reportedly turned down the starring roles in Sunset Boulevard and East of Eden. At one point he was receiving so many offers of roles that friends had to squeeze past stacks of them in order to walk up the stairs.

Car accident

On May 12, 1956, while filming Raintree County, he smashed his car into a telephone pole after leaving a party at the Beverly Hills home of his Raintree County co-star and close friend Elizabeth Taylor and her then-husband Michael Wilding. Alerted by friend Kevin McCarthy, who witnessed the accident, Taylor raced to Clift's side, manually pulling a tooth out of his throat, as he'd begun to choke on it. He suffered a broken jaw and nose, a fractured sinus, and several facial lacerations which required plastic surgery.[14] In a filmed interview, he later described how his nose could be snapped back into place.

After a long recovery, he returned to the set to finish the film. Against the movie studio's worries over profits, Clift rightly predicted the film would do well, if only because moviegoers would flock to see the difference in his facial appearance before and after the accident. The pain of the accident led him to rely on alcohol and pills for relief, as he had done after an earlier bout with dysentery left him with chronic intestinal problems. As a result, Clift's health and looks deteriorated considerably.

Post-accident career

His post-accident career has been referred to as the "longest suicide in Hollywood history" because of his alleged substance abuse. Clift continued to work over the next 10 years. His next three films were Lonelyhearts (1958), The Young Lions (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). Clift starred with Lee Remick in Elia Kazan's Wild River in 1960. In 1958, he turned down what became Dean Martin's role in Rio Bravo, which would have reunited him with John Wayne.

He then costarred in John Huston's The Misfits (1961), which turned out to be Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable's last film. Monroe, who was also having emotional problems at the time, famously described Clift as, "The only person I know who is in worse shape than I am." By the time Clift was making John Huston's Freud: The Secret Passion (1962) his destructive lifestyle was affecting his health. Universal sued him for his frequent absences that caused the film to go over budget. The case was later settled out of court; the film's success at the box office brought numerous awards for screenwriting and directing, but none for Clift himself. Some time after the initial release of the film Clift appeared on The Hy Gardner Show where he spoke at length about the accident and its effects, his film career, and treatment by the press. During the interview Gardner mentions that it is the "first and last appearance on a television interview program for Montgomery Clift".

Clift's last Oscar nomination was for best supporting actor for his role in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), a 12-minute part. The film's director, Stanley Kramer, later wrote in his memoirs about how Clift—by this stage a wreck of a man—struggled to remember his lines even for this one scene:

“ Finally I said to him, "Just forget the damn lines Monty. Let's say you're on the witness stand. The prosecutor says something to you, then the defense attorney bitterly attacks you, and you have to reach for a word in the script. That's all right. Go ahead and reach for it. Whatever the word may be, it doesn't really matter. Just turn to (Spencer) Tracy on the bench whenever you feel the need, and ad lib something. It will be all right because it will convey the confusion in your character's mind." He seemed to calm down after this. He wasn't always close to the script, but whatever he said fitted in perfectly, and he came through with as good a performance as I had hoped.”

Death

On July 22, 1966, Clift spent most of the day in his bedroom in his New York City townhouse, 217 East 61st Street. He and his live-in personal secretary, Lorenzo James, had not spoken much all day. At 1 a.m., Lorenzo went up to say goodnight. The Misfits was on TV that night, and Lorenzo asked Clift if he wanted to watch it. "Absolutely NOT!" was the reply. This turned out to be the last time Montgomery Clift spoke to anyone. At 6 a.m. the next day, Lorenzo went to wake him but found the bedroom door locked. Unable to break it down, he ran down to the garden and climbed a ladder to the bedroom window. When he got inside, he found Clift dead. He was undressed, lying on his back in bed, with glasses on and fists clenched.

Clift's body was taken to the city morgue at 520 First Avenue and autopsied. The autopsy report cited the cause of death as a heart attack brought on by "occlusive coronary artery disease." No evidence was found that suggested foul play or suicide. It is commonly believed that addiction was responsible for Clift's many health problems and his death. In addition to lingering effects of dysentery and chronic colitis, an underactive thyroid was later revealed. A condition that (among other things) lowers blood pressure, it may have caused Clift to appear drunk or drugged when he was sober. Following a 15-minute ceremony at St. James Church attended by 150 guests including Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra and Nancy Walker, Clift was buried in the Quaker Cemetery, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York City. Elizabeth Taylor, who was in Paris, sent flowers, as did Roddy McDowall, Myrna Loy, and Lew Wasserman.

Elizabeth Taylor

Clift met Taylor when she was supposed to be his date at the premiere for The Heiress. They became close very quickly, and were inseparable. Clift told his friends that she was "his soul mate". They appeared together in A Place in the Sun where their romantic scenes gained considerable acclaim for their naturalness and their appearance. They allegedly dated during this period, and Taylor urged Clift to propose to her. They were allegedly on and off for years, with Clift feeling unable to commit due to his issues with his own bisexuality. Clift and Taylor remained the best of friends until Clift's death, and appeared together again in Raintree County and Suddenly, Last Summer. Clift and Taylor's characters were romantically involved in each movie. Taylor's later husband Richard Burton allegedly commented that he felt that Taylor was always in love with Clift. Taylor saved Clift's life, when he got into a car accident while leaving her house after a party. Taylor allegedly ran to Clift's car screaming "I'm coming for Monty", climbed inside through the back window (the front of the car wa scompletely destroyed), cradled his head on her lap, and removed his front teeth from his mouth (they were jammed in his throat suffocating him.) Clift later gave her those teeth as a souvenir. After Clift was considered unemployable in the mid 1960's, Taylor put her whole film salary on the line as insurance, in order to have Clift cast as her co-star in Reflections in a Golden Eye. Clift died before the movie was set to shoot.

Relationships

Patricia Bosworth, who had access to Clift's family and many people who knew and worked with him, writes in her book, "Monty carried on affairs with men and women. After his car accident his addiction included pain killers and became serious. His deepest commitments were emotional and reserved for old friends; he was unflinchingly loyal to women like Elizabeth Taylor, Libby Holman, Nancy Walker and Ann Lincoln." Clift struggled his whole life with his bisexuality, he once said "I love men in bed, but I really love women!"

When he bought his Manhattan townhouse in 1960 at 217 East 61st Street[21] and became involved in renovations, he reported to a close friend that he envisioned living there someday with a wife and children.[22]

Portrayals

In the 1995 made for television movie, Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story, Clift was portrayed by actor William McNamara.

Awards and honors

Clift has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6104 Hollywood Boulevard and received four nominations for Academy Awards:

1949: Best Actor in a Leading Role—The Search

1951: Best Actor in a Leading Role—A Place in the Sun

1953: Best Actor in a Leading Role—From Here to Eternity

1961: Best Actor in a Supporting Role—Judgment at Nuremberg

Filmography

1948 The Search Ralph 'Steve' Stevenson Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor

Red River Matthew 'Matt' Garth

1949 The Heiress Morris Townsend

1950 The Big Lift Sgt. 1st Class Danny MacCullough

1951 A Place in the Sun George Eastman Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor

1953 I Confess Fr. Michael William Logan Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Terminal Station Giovanni Doria aka Indiscretion of an American Wife

From Here to Eternity Pvt. Robert E. Lee 'Prew' Prewitt Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor

1957 Raintree County John Wickliff Shawnessy

"Operation Raintree" Himself Short subject

1958 Lonelyhearts Adam White

The Young Lions Noah Ackerman

1959 Suddenly, Last Summer Dr. Cuckrowicz

1960 Wild River Chuck Glover Directed by Elia Kazan

1961 The Misfits Perce Howland

1961 Judgment at Nuremberg Rudolph Petersen Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor

Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role

Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture

1962 Freud Sigmund Freud

1966 The Defector Prof. James Bower

Stage appearances

Fly Away Home (1935)

Jubilee (1935)

Yr. Obedient Husband (1938)

Eye On the Sparrow (1938)

Dame Nature (1938)

The Mother (1939)

There Shall Be No Night (1940)

The Skin of Our Teeth (1942)

The Searching Wind (1944)

Foxhole in the Parlor (1945)

You Touched Me (1945)

The Seagull (1954)

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Montgomery Clift's Timeline

1920
October 17, 1920
1966
July 23, 1966
Age 45
New York, NY, USA