Gene Tierney Biography
Because of her exquisite beauty, actress Gene Tierney was made into an overnight success. Her gracefulness emanated from her in every role.
Gene Eliza Tierney was born on November 19, 1920 in Brooklyn, New York. Since her father was an affluent insurance broker, Miss Tierney was brought up in a wealthy family. She is the middle child of three children – she had an older brother and a younger sister. Her family moved to Connecticut where she attended school at St. Margaret Waterbury and Unquowa School in Bridgeport. She was also a poet and had her first poem published in the school magazine. This was the first of many poems this talented woman would write throughout her life.
In 1936, Miss Tierney was sent to Europe for two years to finish her education at finishing schools. She became very fluent in French. While in Europe, she met Douglas Fairbanks Sr. She returned to the United States in 1938. Upon her return, she visited the Warner Brothers studio. After much thought, she decided that she wanted to be an actress. The following year, Miss Tierney made her acting debut on Broadway in the play "What a Life" carrying a bucket of water across the stage. Her small role did not go unnoticed because of her exquisite beauty. She was included in the newspaper reviews. Film director Darryl Zanuck was not the only one that thought that Gene Tierney was the most beautiful woman in movie history. Along with acting, Miss Tierney was also a model for John Powers in New York. Because of her success, her father decided to become her personal manager. Because she was considered a bit overweight, Miss Tierney wrote to Harper’s Bazaar for a weight loss diet, which she followed for the next twenty years of her life. She maintained the weight of 117 pounds. She also took up smoking in order to lower her voice because she thought her voice was too high.
In 1940, Miss Tierney met and married playboy Oleg Cassini although her parents highly disapproved of this union. They eloped on July first and were married in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her marriage did not interfere with her modeling and acting career, which had taken off.
In 1943, Miss Tierney found out that she was pregnant. In June of the same year, she contracted the German measles. Her daughter was born on October 15 in the same year with birth defects. Her child, Daria, was born deaf and dumb and required a full blood transfusion. Daria was diagnosed as being mentally retarded. The following year, Miss Tierney visited Pearl S. Buck for advice on handicapped children. Since she was unable to care for her daughter, in 1947, Miss Tierney put her daughter into the Longhorn Institute in Pennsylvania so she could be properly cared for. During this time, Miss Tierney was still making films although she had separated and reconciled with her husband Oleg Cassini. This is the same year she made the movie "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir." The following year Miss Tierney made three more movies. She was never without work throughout her entire career.
In 1952, Miss Tierney contracted pneumonia while filming "Way of a Gaucho." After recovering, she divorced her husband who could have cared less about her medical condition.
In 1956, Miss Tierney tried to commit suicide but the neighbor called the police in time and Miss Tierney was admitted to the Menninger Foundation. She stayed at the Foundation for two years. She didn’t go back to acting but worked as a sales girl in a large department store until someone noticed that she was Gene Tierney. She was readmitted to the Foundation for a short time in 1959.
After corresponding with Howard Lee for several years, the couple wed on July 11, 1960. They stayed together until Mr. Lee’s death in 1981.
Miss Tierney was asked to be in the movie "Return to Peyton Place." She declined the role, as she was pregnant. Unfortunately, her pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. After she recovered, Otto Preminger asked Miss Tierney to be in his movie "Advise and Consent." She agreed and it was released in 1962. Miss Tierney went back to acting and worked until 1980 with the television movie "Scruples" which also starred Lindsay Wagner and Barry Bostwick being her last role.
In 1986, Miss Tierney was invited to be the guest of honor at the International Film Festival of San Sebastian, Spain.
On November 6, 1991, Miss Tierney died of emphysema in Houston Texas.