Gene Tierney

Actress Gene Tierney had a rocky start in Hollywood, but is best known for her role as a memorable murder victim in the 1944 film Laura.


Actress Gene Tierney was born into a wealthy family on November 20, 1920, in Brooklyn, New York. She appeared on Broadway in 1938 and transitioned to film in 1940, starring opposite Henry Fonda. She continued in films through the ‘40s and ‘50s. Her most famous role was in the 1944 movie Laura. She struggled with depression in the later part of her life and died in 1991 from emphysema.

Early Life and Career

Actress Gene Eliza Tierney was born on November 20, 1920, in Brooklyn, New York. The daughter of a wealthy insurance broker, Tierney grew up with a lavish lifestyle and was educated at the finest schools in Connecticut and Switzerland. The young beauty made her Broadway debut in 1938's Mrs. O'Brien Entertains. After several years on the stage, she went to Hollywood to star opposite Henry Fonda in Fox's 1940 Western The Return of Frank James.

Tierney received her first major role that same year in Tobacco Road. Critics, however, put the young actress in disfavor, and she appeared in a long line of forgettable roles until the 1943 comedy Heaven Can Wait, which signaled an upward turn in her career. The following year, she starred as the enigmatic murder victim in the mystery classic Laura, which would prove to be the most memorable role of Tierney's career.

Career Highlights

The momentum continued and in 1945 she received an Academy Award nomination for her role as femme fatale Ellen Berent in Leave Her to Heaven. She subsequently starred in The Razor's Edge opposite Tyrone Power and in 1947's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Tierney appeared in smaller supporting roles through the late 1940s, reemerging in 1952's Plymouth Adventure with Spencer Tracy and Never Let Me Go with Clark Gable. She continued to be one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood with such films as Night and the City and The Left Hand of God to her credit.

However, the following decades proved difficult for the actress, who battled a troubled emotional life that included hospitalization and shock treatment for depression. She retired several times only to be lured back to Hollywood for such films as Advise and Consent and Toys in the Attic, along with a few television movies.


Tierney was married to Oleg Cassini from 1941 to 1952; they have two daughters, Daria and Christina. She was married to Texas oil baron Howard Lee from 1960 until his death in 1981. The actress died of emphysema in 1991.

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