Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Montgomery Clift

Montgomery Clift was born October 17, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska. The son of William Brooks Clift, a vice-president of Omaha National Bank, and Ethel Fogg. Montgomery had a fraternal twin sister, Roberta (aka Ethel), and a brother, William Brooks Jr.

Montgomery Clift and his siblings were raised as if they were aristocrats. Home-schooled by their mother as well as by private tutors in the United States and Europe, they did not attend a regular school until they were in their teens. Montgomery was educated in French, German, and Italian.

Montgomery Clift began his acting career on Broadway, appearing in Fly Away Home at the age of 13. Montgomery achieved success on the Broadway stage and during the next 10 years appeared in such productions as Jubilee, Dame Nature, There Shall Be No Night, Our Town, and You Touched Me.

In 1947, Montgomery Clift moved to Hollywood and made his film debut in Red River (1948) opposite John Wayne.

From 1947 to 1956, Montgomery Clift starred in such classics as The Search (1948), A Place in the Sun (1951), I Confess (1951), and From Here to Eternity (1953). During this period, he was receiving so many offers of roles that friends had to squeeze past stacks of them in order to walk up the stairs. He turned down roles in Sunset Boulevard, High Noon, and East of Eden.

Montgomery Clift would earn Academy Award nominations for Best Actor for The Search (1948), A Place in the Sun (1951), and From Here to Eternity.

On May 12, 1956. Montgomery's life would take a tragic turn. While filming Raintree Country, he was leaving a party thrown by co-star and close friend Elizabeth Taylor and crashed his car into a telephone pole. Actor and friend Kevin McCarthy witnessed the accident and alerted Taylor. Elizabeth rushed to Clift's side and manually pulled his tongue out of his throat when he began to choke and save his life. Montgomery suffered a broken jaw, broken nose, fractured sinus and several facial lacerations which required plastic surgery.

After a long recovery, he returned to the set to finish the film. However, the pain of the accident led him to rely on alcohol and pills and Clift's health and looks deteriorated considerably.

Montgomery Clift's post-accident career has been referred to as the "longest suicide in Hollywood history" because of his alleged substance abuse. However, 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).

In 1961, he costarred in John Huston's The Misfits which turned out to be Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable's final film. Marilyn Monroe, who was also having emotional problems at the time, once said that Montgomery is "The only person I know who is in worse shape than I am."

In 1962, Montgomery Clift would play Rudolph Petersen in Judgement at Nurmberg and receive his fourth Academy Award nomination.

On July 22, 1966, Montgomery Clift spent most of the day in his bedroom at his New York City townhouse. Ironically, The Misfits was on television that night and Montgomery's final words to anyone were "absolutely not" when asked if he wished to watch the movie. The next morning, Montgomery Clift was found deceased, the official cause of death was listed as heart attack brought on by occlusive coronary artery disease. Montgomery Clift was 45 years old.

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