In the 40s actress Gene Tierney was called “the golden girl of Hollywood” and “new Mona Lisa” – for her enigmatic smile. Her portraits were painted by famous artists, she was shot in films by famous directors, a lot of men dreamt about her favor. “Although Gene looked beautiful both in the movies, and photos, the camera could not transmit a tenth of the charm inherent in her life. Her beauty blinded. “Short meeting with her – one of the most powerful experiences of my life” – confessed Spencer Tracy, who did not even try to dream about the Hollywood princess Gene Tierney. Nevertheless, the fate of the beautiful, admired by millions of viewers, was far from the beautiful fairy tale.
Her fate was more like melodrama in the style of Jackie Collins – failed romance, family tragedy, the loss of faith in herself and finding happiness in the new – late love. A dramatic episode in the life of the actress was the basis for her novel “The Mirror Crack’d”. However, in reality “star” did not take revenge on a woman who accidentally stole happiness from her and health from her daughter.
Gene Eliza Tierney was born November 19, 1920 in the family of a successful broker. Was born, as they say in America, “with a silver spoon in her mouth.” Since the birth the child was spoiled by parents, with lots of presents from her rich grandfather and her relatives, every passerby was glad to oblige beautiful, like a doll, girl.
The Great Depression raged in the country, but Gene had no idea about it – she was studying in America’s Best Colleges, spent two years in a pension in Switzerland, went on vacation to France and Sweden. Such a spoiled child, probably, should become moody and selfish. However, Gene grew delicate and sensitive girl. In each of the colleges, she was considered one of the best students. Gene wrote poems, painted well, was fair and just a teenager, piously believed in the immutable moral truths taught by her father, as well as in reality of the fantastic world created for her by parents. She was convinced that in the future she will meet Prince Charming, a great love and a happy family life – like a father and mother.
In 1938, in a bright future, invented by Gene, appeared a desire be an actress! This idea did not belong to her, but the director Anatole Litvak, who casually acquainted with Miss Tierney. He immediately tried to persuade her: “You are born to be a star”. Gene liked this idea. A few months later she appeared on the Broadway stage in a small role – and was immediately mentioned in the evening papers. “The performance was frankly boring, but in the episode flashed one of the most beautiful girls in the world.” After such withdrawal studio “XX Century Fox” immediately signed a contract with a young debutante – and gave her the lead female role in the film “The Return of Frank James.”
But ironically early career coincided with the collapse of main illusion of her life: faith in a happy and lasting marriage of her parents. In 1940, Tierney learned that her father, who was for her living embodiment of honor, loyalty and decency, for several years had an affair with her mother’s best friend. In addition, it was found out that Howard Tierney, used money of his daughter to “fill holes” in his own business. Gene was not upset – she was killed. Father’s favorite, she rejected two fans just because her father didn’t like them. Her father did not consider anyone’s feelings, simply betrayed them – her mother, sister and brother.
After that, Gene not only forever quarreled with her father, but also suggested to his next rejected groom – fashion designer of Russian origin Oleg Cassini – to escape to Las Vegas and get married there. It all happened in such a hurry that at the altar the bride and groom did not even had rings. The situation was corrected – Gene broke off a fastener and put the ex-earring on the finger of Cassini.
The studio XX Century Fox didn’t like the hasty marriage of “Hollywood princess” – Gene continued to shoot, but Oleg Cassini, costume designer, lost his job. In 1942 he volunteered for the front, and Gene – with patriotic feelings – enrolled in the “defense of American power.” She sometimes appeared in the studio canteen, where military women were invited, greeted with groupies hand, signing autographs. But after one of these “campaigns” Gene, while pregnant, was horrified to find that she was ill with measles. Doctors hoped that the child would not be affected. But they were wrong. Daughter of actress with a Russian name Daria – was born blind, deaf and mentally retarded. Gene fought for her year and a half, but there was no hope: the girl could only survive in a specialized clinic. A year later at the party the actress accidentally found out that the cause of unhappiness was her glory. One of the fans happily shared with Gene: “When I was a naval officer, we had a measles epidemic. But, knowing that you’ll be in the dining room, I got to shake your hand”.
After that Tierney fell into depression, experiencing tragedy and blaming herself for what happened. Returned from the front her husband could not comfort her. Besides, tired of fruitless job search, Cassini had an affair with women. Between spouses grew wall of incomprehension.
In 1946, Gene seemed that fate finally took pity on her: actress fell in love. Her Prince Charming was the charming Lieutenant of Navy John F. Kennedy. Their affair lasted almost a year, and Gene believed that a fairy tale “happy end” will wait for her: “They got married and lived happily ever after.” However, the Kennedy clan was against the marriage of John with the actress – in the future it could damage his career. The future president heed the advice of relatives. In 1947, he said to Gene, that he would never be able to marry her. Heart of beauty was again broken.
After the break with Kennedy Tierney reconciled with Oleg Cassini – they even born another daughter Christina. But it turned out that to stick together a broken cup is impossible. In 1952, when the actress, being in Argentina, fell ill with pneumonia, Oleg refused to come to her – and thereby put an end to their marriage. Two months later, they divorced.
Pneumonia and divorce worsened mental health of Gene. During shots she forgot lyrics, did not recognize family and friends. She had love affairs with Ali Khan and Tyrone Power, but after a month or two the actress could not even remember the name of her next lover. However, the disease ruined the soul of Gene, but saved her beautiful face – the actress was still fantastically good and desirable. In 1954, after aging Clark Gable unsuccessfully tried to take care of Tierney, but she, gradually losing touch with reality, didn’t notice it.
In 1955, the family decided that Gene should visit the specialists. Psychiatry at that time was in its infancy, and the actress was prescribed “shock therapy” – an incredibly painful procedure. Tierney ran twice from the hospital – but she was found and returned back. After thirty sessions without seeing improvements, the actress tried to commit suicide. It was almost an hour on the thirteenth floor window, but she did not dare to make a fateful step. Her despair frightened relatives – and they moved her to another hospital, where she had been treated with tablets. However, not medicine saved Gene, it was a new love.
With a Texas oil tycoon Howard Lee Tierney met in 1958. Howard was twenty years older than her and didn’t look like a handsome prince. But it was he who was able to make Gene happy. “Howard loved my mother – recalls Christine. – He just knew the words of the marriage vows” in wealth and in poverty, in sickness and health, and until death do us part … ”
Marrying him, Tierney finally recovered and even returned to the cinema – as beautiful as she was. After one of the most successful films with her participation, John Kennedy – when he was president – invited the crew to dinner. At the banquet, the actress set beside him, John whispered to her: “Well, how do you live?” Gene loudly and cheerfully replied: “Great! I have a husband who loves me, and he does not care – I’m crazy or not.”
Death of Howard Lee in 1981 was the last great tragedy in the life of the actress. She lived another ten years, but never recovered from the loss. “My mother was devastated – recalls Christine. – She again turned in on herself and started smoking a lot. For her existence without Howard was “life after death. She wanted to go to him.”
Hollywood princess Gene Tierney