Friday, January 22, 2010

Jean Simmons 1929-2010

Two time Academy award nominee Jean Simmons has passed away today at the age of 80.
The British actress known the world over for her incredible beauty leaves behind a legacy of over fifty films over the course of six decades.
Her first starring role came at the hands of David Lean who had her play the young version of the cold hearted Stella in "Great Expectations".
Her breathtaking beauty shone in the gorgeous black and white cinematography. One year later she would star as Kanchi, the exotic peasant who falls for a royal in the stunning "Black Narcissus".
If she had made an impression on black and white, her perfect features astounded moviegoers in Jack Cardiff's luscious color cinematography. Made up to appear Asian, Simmons becomes an apparition among the breathtaking murals of the Himalayan convent.
Just a year after that Simmons went to star as Ophelia in Laurence Olivier's Oscar winning "Hamlet" for which she received her first Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress. Her take on Shakespeare is imbued with imminent doom that makes her eventual fate a heartbreaking account of lost youth and immortal beauty.
Simmons starred in classics like "The Robe", "The Egyptian", "Elmer Gantry", "Spartacus" and "Guys and Dolls" which won her a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
She was married to actor Stewart Granger whom she divorced in 1960. She later married director Richard Brooks who had her star in "The Happy Ending" which gave her a second and last Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Over the last two decades she went to star in TV miniseries like "The Thorn Birds"-for which she won an Emmy- and in 1998 she appeared once more in "Great Expectations", only she played Miss Havisham this time around. In 1995 she appeared in "How to Make an American Quilt" for which she won a SAG nomination as part of the female ensemble. She spent her last years living a quiet life but contributed to film as part of the English version of Hayao Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle".
She is survived by her two daughters Kate and Tracy who she named after Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. May she rest in peace.

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