19/11/1920 to 06/11/1991
Gene Tierney was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a successful insurance broker and her mother was a former teacher. She was educated in the finest schools on the East Coast and at a finishing school in Switzerland. After two years in Europe, Gene returned to the US where she completed her education. By 1938 she was performing on Broadway in What a Life! and understudied for The Primerose Path (1938) at the same time. 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, her subsequent roles Mrs OBrian Entertains (1939) and RingTwo (1939) were better and received praise from the tough New York critics. Critic Richard Watts wrote "I see no reason why Miss Tierney should not have a long and interesting theatrical career, that is if the cinema does not kidnap her away".
After being spotted by the legendary Darryl F. Zanuck during a stage performance of the hit show The Male Animal (1940), Gene was signed to a contract with 20th Century-Fox and her first role was in Hudson's Bay (1941). It a very busy year for Gene, as she appeared in The Shanghai Gesture, Sundown, Tobacco Road and Belle Starr.
In 1942, she tried her hand at screwball comedy in Rings on Her Fingers, which proved a success. In 1945 she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Ellen Brent in Leave Her to Heaven). Though she didn't win, it solidified her position in Hollywood society. She followed up with another great performance as Isabel Bradley in the hit The Razor's Edge. In 1944 she played what is probably her best-known role (and, many critics agree, her most outstanding performance) in Otto Preminger's Laura, 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 one of the hottest actresses around, and the 1950s she appeared in a number of good films, among them Night and the City (1950), The Mating Season (1951), Close to My Heart (1951), 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 (they divorced in 1952), the birth of her eldest daughter who was mentally retarded in 1943 and several unhappy love affairs resulted in Gene being hospitalised for depression.
When she returned to 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).
Darryl F. Zanuck, founder of 20th Century Fox, said she was unquestionably the most beautiful woman in movie history. Howard Hughes provided the funds for her retarded daughter's medical care.
She married her second husband W. Howard Lee in 1960, his previous marriage to actress Hedy Lamarr had ended in divorce the same year. Widowed in 1981, Gene died of emphysema in Houston, Texas, on November 6, 1991, just two weeks away from her 71st birthday.