Gene Tierney

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Gene Tierney

Gene Eliza Tierney (November 19, 1920 - November 6, 1991) was an American actress. She was born in Brooklyn, New York City. She starred several movies including Heaven Can Wait, Laura, Leave Her to Heaven, The Razor's Edge, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Whirlpool, The Mating Season and The Left Hand of God.

Early life[change | change source]

Tierney was born on 19 November 1920.[1] She was born into a wealthy Brooklyn family. On a family vacation she toured the Warner Brothers studio and was spotted by director Anatole Litvak. After a screen test she was offered a contract.[1] But her father disapproved of her becoming a Hollywood actress. He finally approved of her acting on the Broadway stage if she would first make her society debut.[1] She played several bit parts before again being noticed by Hollywood. She had a brief contract with Columbia Pictures but returned to Broadway. Her first break was in the play The Male Animal as a college cheerleader. This time 20th Century Fox wanted to sign her to a contract. They allowed her creative control over her parts and she could return to act on Broadway every year.[1]

Hollywood[change | change source]

She played a newspaperwoman in love with an outlaw (played by Henry Fonda) in the Western The Return of Frank James.[2] She was then cast in a variety of roles before getting top billing on her own. Her first lead role came in the movie Heaven can Wait also starring Don Ameche.[2] She then starred in the Film noir Laura. This was followed by a second film noir, Leave her to Heaven.[1] Starring with Tyrone Power, she played the female lead in The Razor's Edge.[3] Probably her best known film was The Ghost and Mrs. Muir with Rex Harrison.[2] When it was released in 1947 it did fairly well.[4] But it did not become a classic until later.[5] She went on to star in several films. But she had a number of personal problems later in her career. This included a love affair gone wrong. As her second husband, she married W. Howard Lee, a rich Houston oilman.[6] She remained happily married to him for 20 years until his death in 1981.[7]

Retirement in Houston[change | change source]

After her marriage to Howard she did only two more films before retiring.[2] Tierney's autobiography was published in 1979. As an actor she had been a heavy smoker, probably to lower her voice.[8] On 6 November 1991 Tierney died of emphysema in Houston, Texas.[8] She is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston,[9] next to her husband, W. Howard Lee.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era, ed. Frank Miller (San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2006), p. 193
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors, Volume 1, ed. Barry Monush (New York: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, 2003) p. 730
  3. 'Movie of the Week: The Razor's Edge, Maughm Book makes Supurb Film', Life, Vol. 21, No. 21 (Nov 18, 1946), p. 97
  4. '"The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," With Rex Harrison, Gene Tierney and George Sanders, Opens of Radio City Music Hall', The New York Times (Wednesday, July 2, 2014)
  5. Michelle Vogel, Gene Tierney: A Biography (Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2005), p. 115
  6. Bryan Burrough, The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes (New York: Penguin Press, 2009), p. 190
  7. Michelle Vogel, Gene Tierney: A Biography (Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2005), p. 193
  8. 8.0 8.1 Michelle Vogel, Gene Tierney: A Biography (Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2005), p. 194
  9. Lucinda Freeman, Historic Houston: How to See It: One Hundred Years and One Hundred Miles of (Iuniverse Inc., 2011), p. 179

Other websites[change | change source]