EXPIRED: 01/21/10 – Jean Simmons, 81, started her career on the screen in small roles in B-pictures before moving up the ranks in Hollywood. Soon she was getting supporting roles in major films with major directors, like Michael Powell and David Lean. Within no time she was playing the leading lady in a variety of roles, from Shakespeare to noir to biblical epics.
Born in London in 1929, Simmons began her career at the age of 14, when she was plucked from a dance class to make her movie debut in the 1944 British production Give Us the Moon.
She then appeared in several minor British films before her breakthrough role in Great Expectations, followed by Black Narcissus and then Hamlet in 1948, where she earned an Oscar nomination.
The actress also played Desiree to Marlon Brando’s Napoleon, appearing alongside him again in Guys and Dolls in 1955.
She picked up a second Oscar nomination for 1969’s The Happy Ending, before moving largely to television roles in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s including the miniseries North and South. Her last recurring roles were in my least favorite show of all times, Murder She Wrote, but that’s another story – and another obit waiting to be written.