Friday, January 29, 2010

Jean Simmons (1929-2010)

Jan 31, 1929 - Jan 22, 2010 Jean Simmons was born in England, and was once touted as the "British Elizabeth Taylor". She made her big film break at 17 as the ravishing and arrogant young Estella in David Lean's version of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations (1946). She was then cast as an exotic dancer by Michael Powell in Black Narcissus (1947). She came to the U.S. after Howard Hughes bought her film contract from Arthur Rank. Though nominated twice (Hamlet, The Happy Ending) she never won an Oscar®, but did win Golden Globe awards for Guys and Dolls, and a special award for "Most Versatile Actress". She became known for a mischievious smile as if harboring a devilish thought. My favorite roles of hers were as Sister Sharon in the searing indictment of evangelism, Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry, in which she was directed by future husband Richard Brooks and starred opposite Burt Lancaster in his Oscar®-winning title role; and in her Oscar®-nominated role as a melancholy housewife opposite John Forsythe in The Happy Ending, an ironic title. Her 96th and last film was in 2009, in the British film Shadows in the Sun. She died in Santa Monica, Ca, at the age of 80. Here is her obituary from UK's The Guardian Notable Films: Great Expectations (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), Hamlet (1948), Blue Lagoon (1949), Androcles and the Lion (1952), The Robe (1953), Desiree (1954), Guys and Dolls (1955), The Big Country (1958), Elmer Gantry (1960), Spartacus (1960), Life at the Top (1965), The Happy Ending (1969), Valley of the Dolls (1981, tv), North and South (1985, tv). She played Miss Habersham in a tv miniseries version of Great Expectations in 1989. Here is her complete filmography at IMDB

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