Born on November 1920, Brooklyn, New York, US
Died on November 6, 1991, Houston, Texas, US
“Although she was beautiful in her films, they couldn’t quite capture all of her. Fortunately I did, even if it was late in my life.”–Spencer Tracy
Green-eyed beauty Gene Tierney was born to a wealthy New York family, and when she expressed an interest in acting, her father established a corporation whose sole purpose was to promote her. Tierney progressed from Broadway supporting roles to a contract with 20th Century Fox after being discovered by David O. Selznick. Her rise to popularity — from 1940 through the mid-fifties — coincided with the post-war fascination with neurosis, and Tierney became associated with disturbed characters driven by torment. Her troubled souls’ tumultuous passions inevitably led to obsession and tragedy, the best illustration of which is her portrayal of a paranoid woman who steals her sister’s lover and kills her unborn baby in 1945’s Leave Her to Heaven, a role that earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Her acting performances were few in the 1950s as she battled a troubled emotional life that included hospitalization and shock treatment for depression. Her imbalance was likely the result of twenty years of being buffeted by tragedy in the form of her parents’ shattering divorce, a bout with German measles during pregnancy that resulted in the birth of a deaf and hopelessly retarded daughter, her divorce from the child’s father, designer Oleg Cassini, and derailed romances with Tyrone Power and Aly Khan. In 1960, Tierney married oil businessman W. Howard Lee (he was also the fifth Mr. Hedy Lamarr) and thereafter ventured out cautiously in occasional roles.