Tag Archive | Androcles and the Lion

StarChoice 21: JEAN SIMMONS: Lovely – Radiant – Luminous

1 Spartacus

As Varinia in  Spartacus

On January 31, 1929 a child was born in Crouch End, London. Her parents, physical education teacher Charles Simmons, and his wife, Winifred, named her Jean Merilyn Simmons. 2 Black Narcissus

Black Narcissus

Later “discovered” from the Aida Foster School of Dancing in Golders Green in North London, she would become known to the world as Jean Simmons, the beautiful, radiant actress who made a name for herself especially through British and Hollywood movies working with some of the greatest talents in the film business. 3 Black Narcissus

Black Narcissus

In a career that flourished more than 60 years, she would go on to receive numerous award nominations, and also win an Emmy Award (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie) for her role in the 1983 mini-series, The Thorn Birds. The British honoured her with an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 2003 for her services to acting. 4 Although I had seen David Lean’s film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” (1946), it was her role as the passionate Kanchi, the Indian servant girl in the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger film “Black Narcissus” (1947 – starring Deborah Kerr) that brought Simmons to my attention. 5 -The-Robe

With Richard Burton in The Robe

Soon after, I saw her in The Robe (1953 – D: Henry Koster), the Biblical film she is most known for. Indeed, it was the potent mixture of Biblical events in addition to the  presence of talents like Richard Burton and Victor Mature that impelled me to see this film adaptation of Lloyd Cassel Douglas’ (The Big Fisherman) Roman epic novel about the magic robe of Christ. 6-The-Robe

With Richard Burton in The Robe

In that first CinemaScope movie, Jean Simmons, with her startlingly attractive dark looks and screen presence, performed well amidst a fine troupe of stars. She played the graceful Diana, a noble Roman with Christian beliefs, in love with Roman centurion Marcellus Gallio (Richard Burton) who wins the robe worn by Jesus in a dice game. 12 -The-Big-Country-with-Carrol Baker

With Carroll Baker in The Big Country

7Later, I saw her captivating beauty and talent in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948 – as Ophelia); in the screen version of George Bernard Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion (1952 – D: Gabriel Pascal); Angel Face (1952 – D: Otto Preminger); The Egyptian (1954 – D: Michael Curtiz); with Marlon Brando in Désirée  (1954 – D: Henry Koster), in Guys and Dolls (1955 – D: Joseph L. Mankiewicz); The Big Country (1958 – D: William Wyler); Elmer Gantry (1960 – D: Richard Brooks); Spartacus (1960 – D: Stanley Kubrick); etc. Then there were many lost opportunities for her like the role of Princess Ann in Roman Holiday (1953) which director William Wyler wanted Simmons to play. But as fate had it, the role eventually went to Audrey Hepburn and earned Hepburn the Best Actress Academy Award for 1953. Simmons once summed up her career with a quote, “My career has had a lot of ups and downs, but basically it has been wonderful.”     8a 11 Spartacus

With Kirk Douglas in Spartacus

Married to Stewart Granger (m. 1950–1960) and Richard Brooks (m. 1960–1977), the doe-eyed British beauty died on January 22, 2010, at her home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California. 13 Black Narcissus

Black Narcissus

14 January 31 also marks the birthdays of several popular personalities: Tallulah Bankhead; Suzanne Pleshette; James Franciscus; Kelly Lynch; Portia de Rossi; Carol Channing; Mario Lanza; Derek Jarman; Daniela Bianchi; …. Austrian Composer Franz Schubert; Authors Zane Grey and Norman Mailer; etc. As Jean Paul Richter quotes, “Our birthdays are feathers in the broad wing of time.” Bye for now, Jo 15 Notes:

a) The DVDs of this movies referred above are available with main dealers such as amazon.com, TCM Shop, etc.

b) This illustrated article is meant for the promotion of the movies mentioned above. Please refer to “About” for more details.

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With Kirk Douglas in Spartacus

 (© Joseph Sebastine/Manningtree Archive)

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