Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dream Girl

She led a textbook Movie Star life: fame, glamour, bi-polar disorder, suicide attempts, an aborted affair with Prince Aly Khan, a fling with JFK, marriage to Mrs. Kennedy's couturier -- Gene Tierney experienced it all, and then some. Moreover, she lived to tell about it, writing about her tumultuous life and battles with mental illness in a candid, dignified autobiography, Self Portrait (1979).

Tierney's truly astonishing beauty sometimes obscures her talent: she was not only nominated for an Academy Award, but she could (and did) play nearly every kind of character convincingly. She was the cool, detached beauty in Laura (1944); a barely-contained sociopath in Leave Her to Heaven (1945); a wistful widow in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947); and those are just her most famous trio of films. Add to her portrait gallery the deflowered Poppy in The Shanghai Gesture (1941), the titular Western heroine of Belle Starr (1941), and a B.C. babe in The Egyptian (1954), and you get some idea of Tierney's range.

Gene Tierney retired from films permanently in 1964, after a fire-breathing cameo in The Pleasure Seekers. Some critics decried this as a final curtain unworthy of a woman once named "the most beautiful woman in movie history" by Daryl Zanuck; personally, we'd love for our swan song to be in an Ann-Margret pseudo-musical where we get to have a powder room showdown (a la Helen Lawson) with Carol Lynley. But that's just us.


  1. I couldn't agree more with what you said, especially about the final film! Come on, she looked great! I wish she'd have been in it more. My favorite GT story (if that's the word to use!) is how she was given Scarlet Fever by a fan while pregnant and it caused her baby to be born with problems, this later being reworked into the plot of Agatha Christie's "The Mirror Crack'd." I believe Miss Tierney was unearthed again much later for another appearance on TV in a movie or miniseries. I remember her heavier and with glasses as an agent or something.

  2. You know I am Gene Tierney! I can honestly say that being the most beautiful women seen on screen was a hindrance really. Having to tone down raving beauty so others don’t feel self-conscious is a burden. It drove me insane as evidenced in my magnificent performance in Leave Her to Heaven where I ambivalently allowed the little cripple boy to drown…delicious! As Laura I dreamed of being the escorted dame on the arm of detective Mark McPherson to the policeman’s ball. I did manage to get a fox fur chubby out of him. My most wonderful film memory would have to be while playing a normal housewife, the globe-trotting socialite Maggie Carleton opposite Thelma Ritter’s hash slinging mother in-law Ellen McNulty, in The Mating Season. That did a real stretch of my acting talent having to play a normal person…it was exhausting.

    See my dear TJB as I told you before my riveting autobiography was a real page-turner.

  3. "...a real stretch of my acting talent having to play a normal person…it was exhausting..."

    LOL! I was JUST wondering where you were keeping yourself, dear! Glad to see you back.

  4. I think you know that Gene Tierney was Mel Odoms inspiration for his first movie star doll GENE.


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