Montgomery Clift (1920 - 1966)



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Edward Montgomery "Monty" Clift was an American actor. His New York Times obituary noted his portrayal of "moody, sensitive young men".
Born: October 17, 1920, Omaha, NE
Died: July 23, 1966, Manhattan, New York City, NY
Montgomery Clift
Born October 17, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Died July 23, 1966 in New York City, New York, USA (coronary occlusion)
Birth Name Edward Montgomery Clift
Nickname Monty
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)
At age 13, Monty appeared on Broadway ("Fly Away Home"), and chose to remain in the New York theater for over ten years before finally succumbing to Hollywood. He gained excellent theatrical notices and soon piqued the interests of numerous lovelorn actresses; their advances met with awkward conflict. While working in New York in the early 1940s, he met wealthy former Broadway star Libby Holman. She developed an intense decade-plus obsession over the young actor, even financing an experimental play, "Mexican Mural" for him. It was ironic his relationship with the bisexual middle-aged Holman would be the principal (and likely the last) heterosexual relationship of his life and only cause him further anguish over his sexuality. She would wield considerable influence over the early part of his film career, advising him in decisions to decline lead roles in Sunset Boulevard (1950), (originally written specifically for him; the story perhaps hitting a little too close to home) and High Noon (1952).
His long apprenticeship on stage made him a thoroughly accomplished actor, notable for the intensity with which he researched and approached his roles. By the early 1950's he was exclusively homosexual, though he continued to hide his homosexuality and maintained a number of close friendships with theater women (heavily promoted by studio publicists).
His film debut was Red River (1948) with John Wayne quickly followed by his early personal success The Search (1948) (Oscar nominations for this, A Place in the Sun (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)). By 1950, he was troubled with allergies and colitis (the U.S. Army had rejected him for military service in World War II for chronic diarrhea) and, along with pill problems, he was alcoholic. He spent a great deal of time and money on psychiatry.
In 1956, during filming of Raintree County (1957), he ran his Chevrolet into a tree after leaving a party at Elizabeth Taylor's; it was she who saved him from choking by pulling out two teeth lodged in his throat. His smashed face was rebuilt, he reconciled with his estranged father, but he continued bedeviled by dependency on drugs and his unrelenting guilt over his homosexuality.
With his Hollywood career in an irreversible slide despite giving an occasional riveting performance, such as in Stanley Kramer's Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Monty returned to New York and tried to slowly develop a somewhat more sensible lifestyle in his brownstone row house on East 61st Street in Manhattan. He was set to play in Taylor's Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), when he died in the early morning hours of July 23, 1966, at his home at age 45. His body was found by his live-in personal secretary/companion Lorenzo James, who found Clift lying nude on top of his bed, dead from what the autopsy called "occlusive coronary artery disease."
Hollywood folklore has it that his ghost haunts the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The actor had stayed there while filming From Here to Eternity (1953), even though all filming locations for "From Here to Eternity" were in Hawaii.
At his near-fatal car accident in 1956, Rock Hudson, Michael Wilding and Kevin McCarthy formed a protective shield to prevent Clift's photo from being taken by photographers as he was carried from the wreck to the ambulance.
A sometime guest of Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne at their rural retreat Ten Chimneys in Genesee Depot, Wisconsin.
Marilyn Monroe described him as "the only person I know who is in worse shape than I am".
Turned down Dean Martin's role in Rio Bravo (1959), which would have reunited him with his Red River (1948) co-star John Wayne.
Became good friends with Dean Martin while filming The Young Lions (1958), and Clift helped the singer, who was best known at that time as a light comedian, with rehearsing his heavy dramatic scenes. In later years, as Clift was ostracized by the Hollywood social set for his substance abuses and mental instability, Martin stuck by the troubled actor and often brought him along as his guest to parties.
Son of William Brooks Clift and wife Ethel Anderson Fogg. Ethel is believed by some biographers to have been an illegitimate daughter of Woodbury Blair by Maria Latham Anderson. Woodbury Blair was the son of Montgomery Blair, after whom his great-grandson received his middle name, and wife Mary Elizabeth Woodbury, daughter of Levi Woodbury (1789-1851), United States Supreme Court, and wife Elizabeth Wendell Clapp. Montgomery's ancestry was English, as well as more distant Scottish, Dutch, German and French.
Voted for Republican Thomas E. Dewey in the 1948 presidential election, but later actively campaigned for Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential election - much to the annoyance of his father.
He was close friends with Elizabeth Taylor, although he greatly disliked her husband Richard Burton, and the feeling was mutual. Clift once said, "Richard Burton doesn't act, he just recites.".
In Italy, most of his early films were dubbed by Giulio Panicali, then by Giuseppe Rinaldi. He was occasionally dubbed by Gianfranco Bellini (in The Search (1948) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)), Nando Gazzolo (in The Young Lions (1958)) and once by Pino Locchi in Raintree County (1957).
On the advice of his close friend Libby Holman, he turned down William Holden's role in Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Gary Cooper's role in High Noon (1952).
In the James Kirkwood novel "Hit Me with a Rainbow", early on the lead character is told that he resembles Montgomery Clift. He reflects that this has been happening often and surmises is it due to Clift's recent death.
In his biography "Monty" (1988), Robert LaGuardia claimed that director John Huston, who had paternalistic feelings towards Clift after directing the alcoholic and emotionally troubled actor in The Misfits (1961) (1961), became sadistic towards him during the troubled Freud (1962) (1962) shoot. Basing his charges on interviews with co-star Susannah York, LaGuardia claimed that Huston kept asking Clift about the Freudian concept of "represssion", obviously alluding to Clift's repressed homosexuality. Apparently, Huston himself could not broach the idea that Monty was gay in his own mind, but subconsciously, he reacted to Monty's homosexuality quite negatively. (Marilyn Monroe had admonished Monty not to work with Huston again, finding him a sadist on the "Misfits" set. Her ex-husband Arthur Miller, on the other hand, did not fault Huston in his autobiography "Timebends", but instead, marveled about how he kept his cool during the "Misfits" shoot, which was also troubled due to Marilyn Monroe's mental illness and frequent absences from the set.) Monty's biographer thought that Huston still had paternalistic feelings towards the actor, but was subconsciously appalled at his surrogate son's homosexuality; thus, he began to torture him on the set by insisting on unnecessary retakes and that he perform his own stunts, such as climbing up a rope. Despite Monty's many problems, he always proved a trouper, and gave as much as he could, including diving into a river in his last film, The Defector (1966).
Had appeared in two movies that are set partly at Hickam Field in Honolulu: The Big Lift (1950) and From Here to Eternity (1953).
Had appeared with Elizabeth Taylor in three movies: A Place in the Sun (1951), Raintree County (1957) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959).
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6104 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Montgomery Cliff passed away on July 23, 1966, three months away from what would have been his 46th birthday on October 17.
Following his untimely death, he was interred at Friends Quaker Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York City.
Spoke French, German and Italian fluently.

Montgomery Clift Biography & Family History

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Montgomery Clift was also known as:

Edward Montgomery Clift


Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska United States


New York, New York United States

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Manhattan County, New York

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Starred in four Oscar Best Picture nominees: The Heiress (1949), A Place in the Sun (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). From Here to Eternity is the only winner.
Was the idol of James Dean.
Was the only actor in America that interested Marlon Brando during the fifties. Brando told Clift that they needed to challenge each other because competition between actors was healthy.
Thought that Marlon Brando deserved an Oscar for his performance in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Marlon Brando on the other hand thought that Clift deserved the Oscar for his performance in A Place in the Sun (1951) the very same year.
Instantly threw up when he heard about the death of James Dean. Despite the fact that Clift didn't know Dean at all, Clift later admitted that Dean's death had a profound effect on him.
His first professional acting assignment was in the play Fly Away Home in 1934 a the Berkshire Playhouse in Stockbridge, Massachusetts where he co-starred with Mary Wickes.
Played by Alexander Des Combes in Hollywood Mouth 2 (2014).
He has appeared in six films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Red River (1948), The Heiress (1949), A Place in the Sun (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953), Wild River (1960) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).
Personal Quotes (18)
[his reported last words, upon being asked if he wanted to see one of his movies on television] Absolutely not!
What do I have to do to prove I can act?
I love the stage, but after a few months you can get tired. I would rather do three movies than play in one stage hit. I played in four flops in a row when I was about 17 and I was delighted. I was being paid to be trained.
I keep my family out of my public life because it can be an awful nuisance to them. What's my mother going to tell strangers anyway? That I was a cute baby and that she's terribly proud of me? Nuts. Who cares?
[on his arrival in Hollywood] I told them I wanted to choose my scripts and my directors myself. "But sweetheart," they said, "you're going to make a lot of mistakes." And I told them, "You don't understand; I want to be free to do so.".
Good dialogue simply isn't enough to explain all the infinite gradations of a character. It's behavior -- it's what's going on behind the lines.
I don't want to be labeled as either a pansy or a heterosexual. Labeling is so self-limiting. We are what we do, not what we say we are.
I feel my real talent lies in directing for my later years.
[on Marilyn Monroe] Marilyn was an incredible person to act with, the most marvelous I ever worked with and I have been working for 29 years.
[on Elizabeth Taylor] Liz is the only woman I have ever met who turns me on. She feels like the other half of me.
[on being born the younger twin] I was always the gentleman. I let my sister see the moon before I did!
Noah, from The Young Lions (1958), was the best performance of my life. I couldn't have given more of myself. I'll never be able to do it again. Never.
There are parts of me all over the hospital. They can't find my colon. I know they must have been looking for it for days, but they haven't mentioned it to me because they will think I'll get upset. I don't care. To hell with it.
My childhood was hobgoblin - my parents traveled a lot. That's all I can remember.
I watched myself in Red River (1948) and I knew I was going to be famous, so I decided I would get drunk anonymously one last time.
Look, I'm not odd. I'm just trying to be an actor; not a movie star, an actor.
The only line that's wrong in William Shakespeare is 'holding a mirror up to nature'. You hold a magnifying glass up to nature. As an actor, you just enlarge it enough so that your audience can identify with the situation. If it were a mirror, we would have no art.
If I'm not interested in the movie, the audience is not going to be. How can you interest the audience if you're not interested yourself?
Salary (7)
The Search (1948) $100,000
Red River (1948) $60,000
The Heiress (1949) $100,000
From Here to Eternity (1953) $150,000
Raintree County (1957) $250,000
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) Waived salary
Freud (1962) $130,000
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1920 - In the year that Montgomery Clift was born, on November 2, radio station KDKA began broadcasting in Pittsburgh, PA. This was the first commercial radio broadcast in the United States. Westinghouse, a leading manufacturer of radios and the backer of the station, chose the date because of the Presidential election. People liked it because they could hear about the results of the election between Harding and Cox before the morning papers arrived. Four years later, there were 600 commercial stations broadcasting in the U.S.

1933 - At the age of only 13 years old, Montgomery was alive when on December 5th, the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The 21st Amendment said "The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed." Alcohol was legal again! It was the only amendment to the Constitution approved for the explicit purpose of repealing a previously existing amendment. South Carolina was the only state to reject the Amendment.

1936 - When he was 16 years old, on November 2nd, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) debuted the world's first regular high-definition television service. The channel had a short schedule - Monday through Saturday, 3:00p to 4:00p and 9:00p to 10:00p. The first broadcast was "Opening of the BBC Television Service".

1940 - When he was 20 years old, on November 5th, President Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a third term, defeating Wendell Willkie of Indiana (a corporate lawyer). Roosevelt running for a third term was controversial. But the U.S. was emerging from the Great Recession and he promised that he would not involve the country in any foreign war (which of course changed when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor). Roosevelt defeated Willkie in the popular vote by 54.7 to 44.8% and in the Electoral College 449 to 82.

1966 - In the year of Montgomery Clift's passing, on September 8th, the first Star Trek episode, "The Man Trap," was broadcast on NBC. The plot concerned a creature that sucked salt from human bodies. The original series only aired for 3 seasons due to low ratings.

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The Times (25/Jul/1966) - Obituary: Montgomery Clift

(c) The Times (25/Jul/1966)

keywords: Alfred Hitchcock, I Confess (1953), Montgomery Clift, New York City, New York


One of the leading film actors of his generation Montgomery Clift, who died suddenly in New York on Saturday at the age of 45, established himself in relatively few films as one of the leading actors of his generation in Hollywood, even if his talents were of too subtle an order ever to make him a major star in the traditional mold.
He was born in Omaha on February 17, 1921, and appeared in public for the first time when he was 13 in an amateur stage production of As Husbands Go, after which he played in summer stock and a year later had his first Broadway role in Fly Away Home. A number of other roles in notable Broadway shows followed, among them There Shall Be No Night, with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, The Skin of Our Teeth, Our Town, The Searching Wind and You Touched Me, one of Tennessee Williams's earliest works.
Though his slim, dark good looks and the highly personal intensity of his acting style soon brought him offers from Hollywood, he held out for some time, until the right part came along — a pattern he was to repeat again and again once he got to Hollywood. The part which finally persuaded him was one of the two leading roles in Howard Hawks's classic Western Red River (1946), in which, as a sensitive juvenile, he was cunningly contrasted with John Wayne as the older, solider cowman who takes the green youngster in hand. This film at once established him as a sought-after Hollywood property, but from the first he went resolutely his own way, avoiding the easy ways to success and playing only parts he considered worth while. This meant that his films were fairly few and far between, but each one had some special quality. Jn 1947 he starred in Fred Zinnemann's The Search, a neo-realistic production made entirely on location in Europe, dramatizing the problem of displaced persons. Two years later the role of the unscrupulous lover in William Wyler's version of The Heiress gave him little scope, but as the fated hero of Dreiser's An American Tragedy, filmed by George Stevens as A Place in the Sun, he found one of his finest roles and gave one of his best performances.
Among the films he made in the next few years were Hitchcock's I Confess, a highly intelligent thriller involving Montgomery Clift as a priest tempted to break the seal of the confessional. Indiscretion, an English language romantic drama directed in Rome by Vittorio de Sica, and From Here to Eternity, directed by Fred Zinnemann, which proved to be one of the biggest commercial successes with which Clift was associated. Some of his later films, such as Elia Kazan's Wild River, miscast him or, like Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Suddenly Last Summer, called on him mainly to sacrifice himself gracefully in what were essentially secondary roles. On the other hand, he was perfectly cast in that underestimated and ill-fated production, John Huston's The Misfits, which proved to be the last film of both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Not quite Montgomery Clift's however; since then he had played the central role in Huston's Freud, almost unrecognizable behind a thick beard, and recently he had been filming again in Europe.
Though, surprisingly, a recent investigation by Variety showed that on the takings of the films he had appeared in Montgomery Clift came high among the top money-making stars, this reflected more on his intelligence and high standards in his choice of roles than on his personal popularity with film-goers; unlike most big stars, he always seemed to hold his public at a respectful distance. His presence in a film was a sort of guarantee of quality; but it was the actor rather than the man one paid to see. In private life he was retiring, preferring to live in New York, out of the limelight, when not actually filming. Almost alone among those who have been called at various times a Hollywood nonconformist, he really was, and dedicatedly so, whether it did his career good or harm. There are not so many people of similar talent and independence in the American cinema that it can afford to lose him.


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