Monty was born just after his twin sister Roberta and eighteen months after his brother Brooks. Their father William made a lot of money in banking but was quite poor during the depression. Their mother Ethel "Sunny" was born out of wedlock and spent much of her life and the family fortune finding her illustrious southern lineage and raising her children as aristocrats. At thirteen Monty appeared on Broadway ("Fly Away Home"), remaining in New York theatre for over ten years before coming to Hollywood. By that time he was an accomplished actor, notable for the intensity with which he researched and entered into his roles. He was also by that time exclusively homosexual, though he maintained a number of close friendships with theatre women (heavily promoted by studio publicists). His film debut was Red River (1948) with John Wayne quickly followed by his early personal success Search, The (1948) (Oscar nominations for this, Place in the Sun, A (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)). By 1950 he was troubled with allergies and colitis (the army had rejected him in WWII for chronic diarrhea) and, along with pill problems he was alcoholic. He spent a great deal of time and money on psychiatry, possibly in search of the precursor to contemporary
alcoholism treatment programs. In 1956 during filming of Raintree County (1957) he ran his car into a tree after leaving a party at Elizabeth Taylor's; it was she who saved him from choking by pulling out two teeth lodged in his throat. His smashed face was rebuilt, he reconciled with his estranged father, but he continued bedeviled by dependency on drugs and guilt over homosexuality. Monty managed to slowly develop a more sensible lifestyle back in his New York brownstone, and he was set to play in Taylor's Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), when his companion Lorenzo James found him lying nude on top of his bed, dead from what the autopsy called "occlusive coronary artery disease".
(1995) Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#29).
Clift is referred to in the Jets to Brazil song, "Conrad" on their album, "Orange Rhyming Dictionary."
Clift is the subject of the song "The Right Profile" on The Clash's album "London Calling".
Clift is also the subject of REM's song "Monty Got a Raw Deal", from their LP
"Automatic For the People"
Was a close friend of Elizabeth Taylor, Kevin McCarthy, Marilyn Monroe and Roddy McDowall.
The release of Red River (1948) made Clift an overnight sensation and
instant star. He embodied a new type of man on screen, the beautiful, sensual and vulnerable man that seemed to appeal to women and men alike. After Place in the Sun, A (1951) came out he was Hollywood's hottest male
star and adored by millions. He looked incredible and he was a fine actor, a rare combination. His only rival in this regard during the next few years was Marlon Brando, whose career turned out to be more stable and
successful in the end. Clift's mental problems prevented him from staying at the top as his drinking and drug problem began to affect his acting and bankability. The loss of his dashing looks in a well publicised road
accident during the filming of the movie Raintree County (1957) didn't help either. What followed could be described as the longest suicide in showbusiness history.
Interred at Quaker Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Freud (1962) $130,000
Raintree County (1957) $250,000
From Here to Eternity (1953) $150,000
Search, The (1948) $100,000
Red River (1948) $60,000
Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Actor. (b. Oct. 17, 1920, Omaha, Nebr., as Edward
Montgomery Clift; d. July 23, 1966.) Handsome, soft-spoken, introspective leading man who exuded star quality in-and earned an Oscar nomination for-his first released film, The Search (1948), and went on to become one
of the brightest talents of the 1950s and 1960s. An actor from age 12, he made his Broadway debut two years later. He matured into a formidable talent, appearing opposite Tallulah Bankhead in "The Skin of Our
Teeth," opposite Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in "There Shall Be No Night," and in the 1944 revival of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." Clift's boyish appearance belied the brooding,
psychologically complex characterizations of which he was capable. Lured by Hollywood in 1946, he was signed to play John Wayne's rebellious son in Red River the release of which was delayed until after The Search had
already played in theaters. His striking and believable performances in both films established him as an overnight star.
Already a hot property, Clift found himself much in demand. He appeared in The Heiress
(1949), perfectly cast as the young man who woos spinster Olivia de Havilland, and The Big Lift (1950) before costarring with Elizabeth Taylor in George Stevens' A Place in the Sun (1951), a brilliant remake of
Dreiser's "An American Tragedy." His moving and credible portrayal of the social inferior who murders pregnant factory girl Shelley Winters to clear the path for his romance with socialite Taylor earned Clift
his second Oscar nod. His third came for his turn as a sensitive soldier in pre-WW2 Hawaii in From Here to Eternity (1953). That same year he played a priest who hears a murderer's confession in Alfred Hitchcock's I
Confess and a willing participant in an adulterous romance with Jennifer Jones in Indiscretion of an American Wife.
In 1957, while filming the Civil War drama Raintree County (which again costarred him with
Elizabeth Taylor), Clift was badly injured in a car crash that permanently scarred his matinee-idol face and obliterated his self-confidence. He was never the same afterward, although some speculate that his inner
turmoilcomplicated by drug and alcohol abuselent an added dimension, certainly an edge, to his subsequent performances. He was really on his toes opposite Marlon Brando in the excellent WW2 drama The Young Lions (1958),
and was reunited with Taylor for the film version of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). While Taylor and Katharine Hepburn had most of the juicy scenes, Clift more than held his own as the understanding
brain surgeon. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) gave him another plum role, as an unbalanced victim of Nazi atrocities, for which he received his fourth and final Academy Award nomination.
Clift took third billing to
Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe for John Huston's troubled production of The Misfits (1961), an Arthur Miller drama about contemporary cowboys. He appeared to have his personal demons under control, as he did playing the
title role in Freud (1962), but he subsequently spent several years off screen, returning only once, in the wholly embarrassing The Defector (1966). He died shortly after completing the film.