Montgomery Clift was an American stage and film actor who was much in demand during his active stage and film acting career. He was very cautious in only slecting films in which he was willing to perform. He is reported to have turned down more roles than roles he accepted and many more than other famous actors.
Clift was a close friend of Marlon Brando and of Elizabeth Taylor. There were rumors about Taylor and Clift as a couple. That was highly unlikely because he was gay, a preference that was kept secret in those days.
During the early part of his acting career he performed exclusively on stage. He did not appear in his first film “The Search” until 1948. It was 15 years following his first stage performance in 1933. He was then only 13.
During his relatively brief acting career he was nominated four times for an Academy Award, three times for Best Actor in a Leading role and once for Best Supporting Actor. His first Academy nomination for Best Actor was for his first ever film “The Search” in 1948. He was one of only a few actors in history who were nominated by the Academy for their first film performance.
His other three Academy nominations were for Best Actor in “A Place in the Sun” in 1951, for Best Actor in “From Here to Eternity” in 1953, and for Best Supporting Actor” in “Judgment at Nuremberg” in 1961. In additions he has also received awards for his performances from other organizations.
His stage career lasted from 1933 to 1954. The notable plays he performed in were: “Jubilee”, “The Skin of Our Teeth”, “Our Town”, and “The Seagull”. Some sources report his stage career started in 1935.
His film career lasted from 1948 to 1966. The notable films he performed in were: “The Search”, “The River”, “The Heiress”, “The Big Lift”, “A Place in the Sun”, “I Confess”, “Terminal Station”, “From Here to Eternity”, “Rain Tree Country”, “Lonely Hearts”, “The Young Lions”, “Suddenly Last Summer”, “Wild River”, “Misfits”, “Judgment at Nuremberg”, “Freud: The Secret Passion”, and “The Defector”.
His characters were often outsiders and “victim-heroes”, such as the social climber in “A Place in the Sun”, the anguished Catholic priest in Hitchcock’s “I Confess”, the doomed regular soldier, Prewitt, in Zinneman’s “From Here to Eternity”, and the Jewish GI bullied by anti-semites in Dmytryk’s “The Young Lions”.
As was stated before Clift has turned down many roles, considered a mistake by many of his admirers and friends. Some of the major roles for which he was the first choice but rejected them were in the blockbuster films: “Sunset Place”, role then offered to William Holden,” High Noon”, roll then offered to Gary Cooper,” East of Eden”, role then offered to Richard Davales,’ Friendly Persuasion”, roll then offered to Anthony Perkins,’ On the Waterfront”, roll then offered to Marlon Brando, ‘Rio Bravo”, role then offered to Dean Martin and “Fahrenheit 51” roll the offered to Oskar Werner.
Clift had a difficult life. He was involved in a serious car accident in 1957, which caused him considerable injury and agony for quite a while. He was able to return to film making, but the accident appeared to have negative consequences on his acting career. There is also some evidence that he became more dependent on alcohol and drugs later in his life.
Clift passed away on July 23, 1966. Cause of death was an overdose of drugs. It is not clear if the overdose was intential or accidental. He was interred in the Quaker Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. He was only 45 at the time of his death.
Philip French, “Philip French’s Screen Legends”, THE OBSERVER, January 16, 2010
Various web sources such as IMDB and Wikipedia
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