Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oscar-Winning Actress Jennifer Jones Dies at 90

Sad news again today...the lovely actress Jennifer Jones has passed away at the age of 90.

Jones appeared in just over two dozen films, but in that relatively short filmography are some of Hollywood's greatest classics: her Academy Award winner THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (1943)...SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944)...LOVE LETTERS (1945)...CLUNY BROWN (1946)...DUEL IN THE SUN (1946)...PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (1948)...MADAME BOVARY (1949)...CARRIE (1952)...LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING (1955)...GOOD MORNING, MISS DOVE (1955)...THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT (1956)...THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET (1957).

One of my favorite Jones performances is CLUNY BROWN, where she plays an enthusiastic plumber who doesn't know her "place" as a maid; she escapes to a new life in more egalitarian America with a writer, played by the dashing Charles Boyer.

I also especially loved her as the ethereal title character in PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, which I was fortunate to see in a revival theater as a teenager, and as Elizabeth Barrett Browning in THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET. BARRETTS is sometimes compared unfavorably with the Norma Shearer-Fredric March version, yet in some ways I feel the remake improved on the excellent original.

Jones was also outstanding as the Eurasian doctor in LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING...which incidentally has one of the finest DVD commentary tracks I've ever heard.

Jones's personal life was rocky at times. Her first marriage was to troubled actor Robert Walker, followed by her 1949 marriage to famed producer David O. Selznick, which lasted until his death in 1965. Her daughter with Selznick, Mary Jennifer, committed suicide in 1976.

Jones married industrialist Norton Simon in 1971; they were married until his passing in 1993. Simon founded the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. Jones played a key role in the development of the Simon collection and the museum, including serving as the museum's president.

Thanks to her outstanding contributions to both classic films and art preservation, Jennifer Jones leaves behind a remarkable legacy.

Update: A touching remembrance by Moira Finnie.

The Self-Styled Siren currently has a lovely photo header on her blog along with her tribute to Jones.

My thanks to Motion Picture Gems for the link.

Friday Update: Thoughts from Jacqueline at Another Old Movie Blog.

Many thanks to Thrilling Days of Yesteryear for linking here today.

Turner Classic Movies will pay tribute to Jones on January 7, 2010. Four Jones films will be screened by TCM beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time: DUEL IN THE SUN, BEAT THE DEVIL, MADAME BOVARY, and INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE.

BEAT THE DEVIL also airs on December 30th, as part of this month's tribute to Humphrey Bogart.

September 2017 Update: TCM Star of the Month: Jennifer Jones.

October 2017 Update: Here are reviews of DUEL IN THE SUN (1946) and PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (1948).


Blogger Moira Finnie said...

Thank you for your sincere words marking the death of Jennifer Jones, Laura. I have read that Cluny Jones was one of her favorite roles as well and it is good to remember her charm and lightheartedness as well as her dramas today. I can't help feel that a friend of the family has died today.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks for the link. I've been enjoying the tributes from other bloggers. The feeling of solidarity at moments like these among classic film bloggers is heartwarming.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

"I've been enjoying the tributes from other bloggers. The feeling of solidarity at moments like these among classic film bloggers is heartwarming."

Definitely, Jacqueline! It's been really nice to see so many people take the time to remember Jennifer Jones.

Best wishes,

10:16 AM  

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