Jennifer Jones, American actress, Died at 90

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Dead, Jennifer Jones on December 17, 2009 at the age of 90, also known as Jennifer Jones Simon, she was an American actress during the Hollywood golden years. Born Phylis Lee Isley in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the daughter of Flora Mae (née Suber) and Phillip Ross Isley.

An only child, she was raised Roman Catholic. Her parents toured the Midwest in a travelling tent show that they owned and operated. She attended Monte Cassino, a girls’ school and junior college in Tulsa and then Northwestern University in Illinois, where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, before transferring to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1938.

Jones starred in more than twenty films over a thirty-year career, going into semi-retirement following Selznick’s death in 1965. In 1980, she founded the Jennifer Jones Simon Foundation for Mental Health and Education after her daughter’s suicide.

Jones appeared in a wide range of roles selected by Selznick. Her dark beauty and sensitive nature appealed to audiences and she projected a variable range. Her initial saintly image — as shown in her first starring role — was a stark contrast three years later when she was cast as a provocative bi-racial woman in Selznick’s controversial film Duel in the Sun (1946).

Other notable films included Since You Went Away (1944), Love Letters (1945), Cluny Brown (1946), Portrait of Jennie (1948), Madame Bovary (1949), We Were Strangers (1949), Gone to Earth (1950), Carrie (1952), Ruby Gentry (also 1952), Terminal Station (1953; later released as Indiscretion of an American Wife), Beat the Devil (1953), Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), Good Morning, Miss Dove (also 1955), The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) starring opposite Gregory Peck and A Farewell to Arms (1957).

The portrait of Jones for the film Portrait of Jennie was painted by Robert Brackman.
Jones married Selznick on July 13, 1949, a union which lasted until his death June 22, 1965. After his death, she semi-retired from acting. According to media reports, Jones attempted suicide in November 1967 after hearing of the death of close friend Charles Bickford.

She was found unconscious at the base of a cliff overlooking Malibu Beach; she was hospitalized in a coma before eventually recovering. Throughout the remainder of the 1940s Jones continued to produce memorable performances, such as in Portrait of Jennie (1948), which carried her into the 1950s and saw her receive her fifth and final Oscar nomination for Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), losing out to Anna Magnani for The Rose Tattoo (1955).

However, despite her obvious success within the film industry Jones was a very private person and managed to stay out of the spotlight which dominated so many other actresses of the time.

As a result Jones began to become less and less noticed, which increased further when Selznick died in 1965. Films roles began to appear less and less and after a moderately successful supporting performance in The Towering Inferno (1974) Jones decided to make this her swansong and bowed out of the film industry.

She did, however, try to revive her film career in later years by campaigning for the role of Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment (1983), but Shirley MacLaine was cast instead and as a result won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance.

In the 21st century, Jones is relatively unknown in comparison to the other actresses of her time such as Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, Greer Garson, Bette Davis etc.


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