Jean Simmons 1929 -
Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
The precipitous and somewhat curious decline of this demure beauty's career-in the 1960s, when she was at the peak of her talents and still alluringwas a blow to her admirers on both sides of the Atlantic. A teenaged dance student plucked from her school to play Margaret Lockwood's precocious sister in Give Us the Moon (1944), the winsome, darkhaired Simmons instantly enchanted British audiences. She remained in films and made a name for herself in such major British productions as Caesar and Cleopatra (1946), Great Expectations (also 1946, as the spoiled, selfish Estella), Black Narcissus (also 1946, as a sultry native beauty), Hamlet (1948, playing Ophelia to Laurence Olivier's great Dane and earning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination), The Blue Lagoon (1949), and So Long at the Fair (1950), among others.
Simmons married screen star Stewart Granger in 1950 and went with him to Hollywood, where she signed first with Howard Hughes and then with 20th Century-Fox. In short order she was toplining such major films as Androcles and the Lion (1952), Angel Face, Affair With a Stranger, The Actress (playing a young Ruth Gordon), Young Bess (as Queen Elizabeth I), The Robe (all 1953), The Egyptian, Demetrius and the Gladiators, Desiree (all 1954), Guys and Dolls (1955, in one of her best-remembered roles, as Sarah Brown, costarring with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando), Hilda Crane (1956), Until They Sail (1957), The Big Country (1958), and This Earth Is Mine (1959).
Simmons divorced Granger in 1960, and almost immediately married writerdirector Richard Brooks, who cast her as Sister Sharon opposite Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry (1960), a memorable adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis novel. That same year she costarred with Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus and played a would-be home-wrecker opposite Cary Grant in The Grass Is Greener Off the screen for a few years, she captivated moviegoers with a brilliant performance as the mother in All the Way Home (1963), a literate, tasteful adaptation of James Agee's "A Death in the Family." After that, however, she found quality projects somewhat harder to come by. Life at the Top (1965), Mister Buddwing (1966), Divorce American Style, Rough Night in Jericho (both 1967), The Happy Ending (1969, a Richard Brooks film for which she was again Oscar-nominated, this time as Best Actress), Say Hello to Yesterday (1971), Mr. Sycamore (1974), and Dominique (1978) comprise a motley list of credits for such a fine talent. She has remained visible on television, in such TV movies as Valley of the Dolls (1981) and Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love (1987), and in a miniseries of "Great Expectations" (1989) in which she played Miss Havisham! Simmons also appeared in the short-lived revival of the gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows" (1991). A feature-film "comeback" in 1988, consisting of roles in Going Undercover and The Dawning only pointed to an appalling paucity of suitable roles for this stillentrancing actress.