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Edward Montgomery Clift
(October 17, 1920 - July 23, 1966) U.S.A.

Montgomery Clift

Actor

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Montgomery CliftBorn in Omaha, Nebraska.

Monty became one of the great movie stars of the post-war era following a distinguished career on Broadway.

He earned four Oscar nominations, drew reams of critical acclaim for his performances and his picture graced dozens of magazine covers and thousands of bedroom walls around the world.

His unique style of acting influenced contemporaries like Brando and Dean and a generation to come.

Montgomery Clift

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Montgomery CliftMonty was born just after his twin sister Roberta and eighteen months after his brother Brooks. Their father William made a lot of money in banking but was quite poor during the depression. Their mother Ethel "Sunny" was born out of wedlock and spent much of her life and the family fortune finding her illustrious southern lineage and raising her children as aristocrats.

At thirteen Monty appeared on Broadway (Fly Away Home), remaining in New York theatre for over ten years before coming to Hollywood. By that time he was an accomplished actor, notable for the intensity with which he researched and entered into his roles. Clift had his first male regular partner in 1940, when he was 20, and although he had intense relationships with women (heavily promoted by studio publicists), he was predominantly homosexual.

His film debut was Red River with John Wayne quickly followed by his early personal success The Search. Clift was arrested for soliciting a young male hustler shortly after being nominated in 1949 for his performace in the film The Search; his lawyers hushed up the incident. By 1950 he was troubled with allergies and colitis (the army had rejected him in WWII for chronic diarrhea) and, along with pill problems he was alcoholic.

Montgomery CliftHe spent a great deal of time and money on psychiatry. The release of Red River made Clift an overnight sensation and instant star. He embodied a new type of man on screen, the beautiful, sensual and vulnerable man that seemed to appeal to women and men alike. After A Place in the Sun came out he was Hollywood's hottest male star and adored by millions. He looked incredible and he was a fine actor, a rare combination. In 1956 during filming of Raintree County he ran his car 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 guilt over homosexuality. Monty managed to slowly develop a more sensible lifestyle back in his New York brownstone, and he was set to play in Taylor's Reflections in a Golden Eye, when his companion Lorenzo James found him lying nude on top of his bed, dead from what the autopsy called "occlusive coronary artery disease".

Following the actor's death, director John Huston remarked, "The combination of drugs, drink and being homosexual was a soup that was just too much for him." He is interred at Quaker Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.

One of his causal lovers, Maurice Leonard, has recently painted him not as a guilt-ridden "basket case" but as a man at ease with his sexuality who probably would, given the more enlightened 1960s and his own provocative nature, have come out.

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Montgomery CliftFilms:

  • Red River (1948)
  • The Search (1948)
  • The Heiress (1949)
  • The Big Lift (1950)
  • A Place in the Sun (1951)
  • From here to eternity (1953)
  • I Confess (1953)
  • Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953)
  • Raintree County (1957)
  • The Young Lions (1958)
  • Suddenly Last Summer (1959)
  • Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
  • This Misfits (1961)
  • Freud (1962)
  • The Defector (1966)
Source: excerpts from a biography by Ed Stephan stephan@cc.wwu.edu - et alii
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