Gene Tierney (November 19, 1920 ~ November 6, 1991) was an American film and stage actress. Acclaimed as one of the great beauties of her day, she is best-remembered for her performance in the title role of Laura (1944) and her Academy Award-nominated performance for Best Actress in Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Other notable roles include Martha Strable Van Cleve in Heaven Can Wait (1943), Isabel Bradley Maturin in The Razor's Edge (1946), Lucy Muir in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Ann Sutton in Whirlpool (1949), Maggie Carleton McNulty in The Mating Season (1951) and Anne Scott in The Left Hand of God (1955) Tierney signed with 20th Century-Fox. Her motion picture debut was in a supporting role as Elenore Stone in Fritz Lang's western The Return of Frank James (1940), opposite Henry Fonda. A small role as Barbara Hall followed in Hudson's Bay (1941) with Paul Muni.
Also, in 1941, Tierney co-starred as Ellie Mae Lester in John Ford's comedy Tobacco Road, along with the title role in Belle Starr, Zia in Sundown and Victoria Charteris a.k.a. Poppy Smith in The Shanghai Gesture. The following year, she played Eve in Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake, along with the dual role as Susan Miller a.k.a. Linda Worthington in Rouben Mamoulian's screwball comedy film Rings on Her Fingers, Kay Saunders in Thunder Birds and Miss Young in China Girl.
Top billing in Ernst Lubitsch's c 1943 comedy Heaven Can Wait as Martha Strable Van Cleve signaled an upward turn in Tierney's career, as her popularity increased. In 1944, she starred in what became her most famous role - the intended murder victim, Laura Hunt, in Otto Preminger's mystery film Laura, opposite Dana Andrews. After playing Tina Tomasino in A Bell for Adano (1945), she played the jealous, narcissistic femme fatale Ellen Berent Harland, opposite Cornel Wilde, in the film version of the best-selling book Leave Her to Heaven, a performance that won her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress (1945). Leave Her To Heaven was 20th Century-Fox's most successful film of the 1940s.
In 1946, Tierney starred as Miranda Wells in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's debut film as a director in Dragonwyck. That same year, she starred in another critically-praised performance as Isabel Bradley, opposite Tyrone Power, in The Razor's Edge, an adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel. She followed that with her role as Lucy Muir in Mankiewicz's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), which many critics have noted to be her greatest performance (besides Laura) for which she did not receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The following year, Tierney co-starred once again with Power, this time as Sara Farley in the successful screwball comedy film That Wonderful Urge (1948). As the decade came to a close, Tierney reunited with Laura director Preminger to star as Ann Sutton in the c film noir Whirlpool, co-starring Richard Conte and José Ferrer (1949). Tierney gave memorable performances in two other film noirs (both in 1950) - Jules Dassin's Night and the City and Otto Preminger's Where the Sidewalk Ends.
In 1951, Tierney was loaned out to Paramount Pictures and gave a memorable comic turn as Maggie Carleton in Mitchell Leisen's c ensemble screwball comedy film The Mating Season with John Lund, Thelma Ritter and Miriam Hopkins. This was also the year Tierney gave a tender performance as Midge Sheridan in the Warner Bros. film Close to My Heart (1951) with Ray Milland. The film is about a couple trying to adopt. Tierney felt this was her best role in a half-dozen years, as it touched the chords of her own experience. The film addressed the issue of "nature versus nurture" and opened an early conversation about the adoption process. Later in her career, she would be reunited with Milland in Daughter of the Mind (1969), which has a cult following.
After appearing opposite Rory Calhoun as Teresa in Way of a Gaucho (1952), her contract at 20th Century-Fox expired. That same year, she starred as Dorothy Bradford in Plymouth Adventure, opposite Spencer Tracy at MGM, during which she had a brief romance with Tracy. Tierney then played Marya Lamarkina, opposite Clark Gable, in Never Let Me Go (1953), which was filmed in England. She found Gable patient and considerate, but lonely and vulnerable, as he was still mourning the death of Carole Lombard. She remained in Europe to play Kay Barlow in United Artists' Personal Affair (1953), which was released that same year. While Tierney was in Europe, she began a romance with Prince Aly Khan, but their marriage plans met with fierce opposition from his father, Aga Khan III. Early in 1953, Tierney returned to the U.S. to co-star in a film noir film as Iris Denver in Black Widow (1954) with Ginger Rogers and Van Heflin.
During 1953, Tierney's mental health problems were becoming harder for her to hide; she dropped out of Mogambo and was replaced by Grace Kelly. While playing Anne Scott in The Left Hand of God (1955), opposite Humphrey Bogart, Tierney's long string of personal troubles finally took its toll. She said that Bogey could tell that I was mentally unstable." During the production, he fed Tierney her lines and encouraged her to seek help. Worried about her mental health, she consulted a psychiatrist, and was admitted to Harkness Pavilion in New York. Later, she went to the The Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. After some 27 shock treatments, Tierney attempted to flee, but was caught and re-institutionalized. She became an outspoken opponent of shock treatment therapy, claiming that it had destroyed significant portions of her memory.
In 1957, Tierney was seen by a neighbor as she was about to jump from a ledge. The police were called, and she was admitted to the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas on December 25. She was released from Menninger the following year, after a treatment that included - in its final stages - working as a sales girl in a large department store (where she was recognized by a customer, resulting in sensational newspaper headlines).
Later that year, 20th Century-Fox offered her a lead role in Holiday for Lovers (1957), but the stress proved too great. Days into production, she was forced to drop out of the film and was readmitted to Menninger.
Tierney made a screen comeback in Advise and Consent (1962), co-starring with Franchot Tone. A year later, she played Albertine Prine in Toys in the Attic. Followed by the International production of Las cuatro noches de la luna llena (1963) with Dan Dailey. She received overall critical praise for her performances. Tierney's career turn as a solid character actress seemed to be on track. She played Jane Barton in The Pleasure Seekers (1964), then again retired.
Tierney would come back and star in the television movie Daughter of the Mind (1969), with Don Murray and Ray Milland. Her final performance was in the TV miniseries Scruples.