Home / Profiles / Hollywood / Actors & Actresses / Montgomery Clift (1920 – 1966)

Montgomery Clift (1920 – 1966)


Montgomery Clift

The life of Montgomery Clift is one of Hollywood’s most tragic stories. In many ways the sensitivity and emotional openness that made him a star in films like A Place in the Sun (1951) and From Here to Eternity (1953) contributed to his fall from stardom. Clift’s family background— domineering mother and emotionally absent father—seemed to have come out of a psychiatry text. For all his problems with his mother, however, he made his Broadway debut at fourteen thanks largely to her dogged pursuit of acting jobs for him. The first key influence on his career was the acting couple Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne, with whom he costarred in There Shall Be No Night (1940). From them he learned a simple, emotionally honest approach to acting that made him one of the stage’s top young leading men. Family problems, the stress of hiding his homosexuality, and recurrent bouts of dysentery and colitis contributed to a drinking problem that would grow worse through the years. Clift turned down all Hollywood offers that came with a studio contract attached, but when director Howard Hawks offered him a one-shot deal to costar with John Wayne in Red River (1948), he accepted. When postproduction work delayed that film’s release, he made his screen debut in the realistic post—World War II drama The Search (1948). Stardom created more emotional strain for Clift. During location shooting for From Here to Eternity (1955), he spent most of his nights out drinking with costar Frank Sinatra, and a four- year hiatus from the screen heightened the problem. While shooting his comeback picture, Paintree County (1957), he suffered a near-fatal automobile accident that damaged his good looks and left him in constant pain, prompting him to add prescription drugs to his alcohol consumption. Despite strong performances as a victim of Nazi persecution in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) and a worn-out rodeo rider in The Misfits (1961), he was virtually unemployable. Longtime friend Elizabeth Taylor tried to salvage his career by demanding he be cast as her husband in Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967). To get back into shape, he signed up for slow- budget spy thriller, The Defector (1966). But the strain of filmmaking was too much for somebody who had already seriously compromised his health. A few months after completing the film, he was found dead in his New York home.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

It is main inner container footer text