Gene Tierney was born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 19, 1920, to well-to-do parents. Her father was a very successful insurance broker and her mother was a former teacher. Her childhood was lavish indeed.
After two years in Europe, Gene returned to the US where she completed her education. By 1939 she was performing on Broadway.Her wealthy father set up a corporation that was only to promote her theatrical pursuits.
Her wealthy father set up a corporation that was only to promote her theatrical pursuits. Her first role consisted of carrying a bucket of water across the stage, prompting one critic to announce that "Miss Tierney is, without a doubt, the most beautiful water carrier I have ever seen!"
Her subsequent roles were more meatier and received praise from the tough New York critics. After being spotted by the legendary Darryl F. Zanuck during a stage performance, Gene was signed to a contract with 20th Century-Fox. Her first role as Barbara Hall in Hudson’s Bay (1941) would be the send-off vehicle for her career.
Later that year she appeared in The Return of Frank James (1940).
The next year would prove to be a very busy one for Gene, as she appeared in The Shanghai Gesture (1941), Sundown (1941), Tobacco Road (1941) and Belle Starr (1941). Her performances in each of these productions were masterful. In 1945 she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Ellen Brent in Leave Her to Heaven (1945).
Though she didn’t win, it solidified her position in Hollywood society. In 1944 she played what is probably her best-known role (and, most critics agree, her most outstanding performance) in Otto Preminger’s Laura (1944), in which she played murder victim named Laura Hunt. In 1947 Gene played Lucy Muir in the acclaimed The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947).
By this time Gene was the hottest player around, and the 1950s saw no letup as she appeared in a number of good films, among them Night and the City (1950), Plymouth Adventure (1952), Personal Affair (1953) and The Left Hand of God (1955).
The latter was to be her last performance for seven years. The pressures of a failed marriage to Oleg Cassini, the birth of a daughter who was mentally retarded in 1943, and several unhappy love affairs resulted in Gene being hospitalized for depression. When she returned to the the screen in Advise & Consent (1962), her acting was as good as ever but there was no longer a big demand for her services. Her last feature film was The Pleasure Seekers (1964), and her final appearance in the film industry was in a TV miniseries, "Scruples" (1980) (mini). Gene died of emphysema in Houston, Texas, on November 6, 1991, just two weeks shy of her 71st birthday.
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