Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Star of the month Gene Tierney pt. II
As for her personal life, Tierney married fashion designer Oleg Cassini, Perhaps his best-known design was the white lace wedding gown Gene wore in “The Razor’s Edge.”
In 1943 their first daughter, Daria, was born mentally retarded as a result of measles Gene contracted during pregnancy while on a U.S.O. Tour of army camps. A woman fan with the disease innocently kissed Tierney, thus passing it on to her. The tragedy, which left Daria in need of lifelong institutionalization, had a profound effect on Tierney’s mental health. (The couple's second child was also a daughter, named Christina.)
After divorcing Cassini in 1952, Tierney became enamored of Prince Ali (or Aly, take your pick) Khan, European jet-set playboy son of the spiritual leader of millions of Moslems, who was a former husband of Rita Hayworth. His father, the Aga Khan, strongly objected to him marrying another Hollywood actress. A combination of guilt because of her daughter’s devastating illness and losing Ali resulted in Gene having a nervous breakdown. Because of being hospitalized at times for depression, her career suffered during the 1950s and the films she did make were of lesser importance.
She married Texas oilman Howard Lee, a former husband of Hedy Lamarr, in 1960 and afterward made occasional movie and television appearances. Lee died in 1981.Prior to her final movie, “The Pleasure Seekers” in 1964, Gene had a supporting role in the remake of “Three Coins in the Fountain.” Her last appearance on television was in a guest star role in “Scruples,” a 1980 romantic miniseries.
Retired from acting, she died of emphysema in 1991. Like the unfortunate kiss that gave her measles, it was another tragic irony in her life that she had only taken to smoking cigarettes because studio bosses suggested it would lower her speaking voice attractively.
In her autobiography, Self Portrait (1979), Tierney candidly reported on the misfortunes of her personal life and revealed she had had many romances including dating John F. Kennedy during his Navy service. The future President had said he couldn’t marry her because he had political ambitions.
Many Hollywood actresses of beauty and talent star today and are gone tomorrow. Gene Tierney will be long remembered for being one of the screen’s greatest beauties, and as an actress who, when given good parts, gave performances equal to the best.