Actress Jean Simmons dies at 80
Published 23/01/2010 | 14:08
Jean Simmons, the stunning beauty who sang with Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls and was Ophelia to Laurence Olivier's Hamlet, has died.
Her agent, Judy Page, told the Los Angeles Times that Simmons, who had lung cancer, died on Friday night US time at her home in Santa Monica, California.
Simmons, born in Crouch Hill, London, made her movie debut at 14 in the 1944 film Give Us The Moon. She would go on to star opposite Kirk Douglas in Spartacus and Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry.
But she was best recognised for playing opposite Marlon Brando in Guys And Dolls.
Simmons won an Emmy for the 1983 TV mini-series The Thorn Birds and appeared on TV and on stage until the 1990s.
After Give Us The Moon, several minor films followed before British director David Lean gave Simmons her breakthrough role of Estella, companion to the reclusive Miss Havisham in 1946's Great Expectations.
That was followed by the exotic Black Narcissus and then Olivier's Oscar-winning Hamlet in 1948, for which Simmons was nominated as best supporting actress. She would be nominated for another Oscar, for best actress for 1969's The Happy Ending, before moving largely to television roles in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Simmons left Britain for Hollywood in 1950, accompanied by her future husband Stewart Granger. There, they were befriended by reclusive tycoon Howard Hughes, who flew them to Tucson, Arizona, for a surprise wedding.
"When I returned from the honeymoon," Simmons told a reporter in 1964, "I learned that Hughes owned me -- he had bought me from (British producer) J Arthur Rank like a piece of meat."
What followed was a string of films that she would later dismiss as terrible, although she took some solace in the fact that Hughes, legendary in those days as a womaniser, never bothered her.