Leading Ladies: Gene Tierney

gene tierney by john rawlings- 1946 
Wouldn’t you say that this top photo looks like a classic Céline advertorial? It’s just so incredibly modern and timeless. And it’s from 1946.
 
Leading Ladies-Gene Tierney 
Beauty, class and talent. Gene Tierney was one of the most beautiful actresses of all time (my husband and I always debate on who was more beautiful, Gene or Grace Kelly – the first one usually wins) and had a magnetic presence on screen, but she didn’t have the ego of a Golden Age movie queen. She had a bright and privileged start in life, but she had more than her fair share of personal drama, too, and the grace and poise she held herself on screen testify to the gifted actress she was when you discover the tragedy in her private life.
 
Leading Ladies-Gene Tierney-1

With Clark Gable, 1953

 
A restrained star persona. Restrained was her personal style, as well. Whether tomboy (not too casual – see photo on the bike) or lady-like (not too up-tight – see last image), she carried both looks well, with great ease and elegance. And the fact that she didn’t want to have her front teeth straightened at the suggestion of the studios only added to her natural, personal charm.
 
Leading Ladies-Gene Tierney-3

Gene Tierney as Ellen Berent Harland in Leave Her to Heaven, 1945

 
Tierney was romantically involved with Howard Hughes and John F. Kennedy – pre Jackie days, and she was married to costume and fashion designer Oleg Cassini. But going back to her profession, I think she was an underrated actress. If you watched Leave Her to Heaven (she was nominated to the Academy Awards for her performance), then you must remember the boat scene on the lake. It is this scene that really exposes you to the greatness of Gene Tierney. Her calm and detached expression as she watches the young boy is so disturbing and creepy that it gives you the chills and leaves you speechless. I don’t think any other A-list actress (and there were many those days) would have had the same powerful impact. In her case, and it doesn’t happen often, her great beauty gave her an incredible versatility on screen. She was a slave to the character, not to the movie star system Hollywood used to create back then.
 
Leading Ladies-Gene Tierney-2

With her daughter, Christina, in Paris, 1951

 
photos: 1-John Rawlings, 1946 / 2,3-on movie studio lots, via The Red List / 4-movie still from Leave Her to Heaven, 1945, Twentieth Century Fox / 5-Walter Carone, 1951, Paris Match Archive (photos 2-5 edited by me)


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