Montgomery Clift was an actor that came into prominence during the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Montgomery was a huge star, but his career could’ve been even more impressive if it wasn’t for a car accident that he suffered. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Montgomery Clift needed plastic surgery during his painful recovery.
Montgomery Clift Was a Different Type of Leading Man
During the 1950s, there started to be a change in Hollywood. The prime years of Hollywood’s Golden Age had seen the screen filled with male leads that were all exceptionally masculine figures, rarely showing an ounce of sensitivity. Around the time after World War II, we started to see more sensitive male leads on the screen. When one thinks of some of the most notable actors from this transitory period, the names that come to mind might include Marlon Brando and James Dean. However, there was one less notable actor that beat them to it. That actor would be Montgomery Clift.
Montgomery Clift was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on October 17, 1920. His adopted mother came from a rich family, and that meant that Montgomery had a pretty upscale upbringing. That is, until the Great Depression came around. The Great Depression saw the fortune of Montgomery’s adopted mother fade away, meaning that the final years of the future star’s youth weren’t quite as glamorous as the ones that came before. Still, Montgomery’s family never wanted for much. During the period before Montgomery’s adopted mother’s vast wealth had been used up, the future star was given the opportunity to travel the world. He received an extensive education, with private tutors being employed.
Montgomery Clift had a brother and sister, and they both went on to receive higher educations upon their coming of age. This was the path that had been set out for them, but Montgomery had different ideas. Instead of pursuing his higher education, Montgomery decided that he wanted to jump right into acting. The burgeoning star had already gotten a head start, appearing on Broadway at the age of only 15. The role was in a play by the name of Jubilee.
Montgomery Had Some Serious Acting Chops
A decade had passed since Montgomery’s aforementioned Broadway debut by the time that the aspiring star began appearing in films. As established, Montgomery came onto the acting scene with a male presence that was decidedly different from the ones that had come before. However, that wasn’t the only thing that set the actor apart from many of his contemporaries and forbearers in the industry.
In addition to having a unique presence, Montgomery Clift also came into films with a unique way of doing business. The traditional method of hiring actors during Hollywood’s Golden Age had seen actors and actresses sign long-term contracts with studios. This meant that said performers essentially became the property of the studios during their time under contract. As one might imagine, this oftentimes proved incredibly unfair to the stars involved. Stars could easily get taken advantage of, even if there were a select few who managed to bite the bullet and come out on top.
When Montgomery Clift started working in films, he used the clout of his Broadway experience to secure a few roles for himself that didn’t require him to sign a contract. The actor then used the success of these roles to establish a career for himself on the big screen. The actor was never tied down to any single studio. Nowadays, signing actors to long-term contracts has essentially gone the way of the dinosaur. That is, outside of multi-film franchises. Some actors aren’t successful when they do things their way, but Montgomery Clift proved that he knew what he was doing. He was selective about his roles, and he stayed out of the tabloids.
Montgomery Clift Kept His Personal Life Private
Montgomery Clift passed away in 1966, at the tragically young age of only 45. In the 1970s, it was revealed to the public that the actor had either been bisexual or homosexual. However, it seems that the actor’s preference for the same sex may have been an open secret in Hollywood during his entire career. During Hollywood’s Golden Age, there were a handful of stars that had same-sex preferences and hid them away from the public. The majority of these stars, including Rock Hudson, did so at the behest of the studio. Rock Hudson was forced to put on the façade of heterosexuality via a sham marriage. Montgomery didn’t have this problem, but he still preferred to keep his personal life private.
Most people believe that Montgomery Clift was a full-fledged homosexual, though there are some that have suggested that the star had the occasional dalliance with women. One woman that Montgomery may have possibly had a romantic relationship with was Elizabeth Taylor, whom he graced the screen alongside a few times. The more notable of the movies that Montgomery and Elizabeth appeared in together was 1951’s A Place in the Sun. The film was a major success, and the two leads were dubbed the most beautiful couple to have ever graced the cinema screen. Sadly, Montgomery’s looks would be altered by a nearly fatal car accident not long after.
Montgomery Called Manhattan His Home
Besides his closeted personal life and his lack of a studio contract, another thing that set Montgomery Clift apart from the majority his contemporaries and forbearers in the film industry was the fact that the actor never lived in Hollywood. Montgomery preferred living in Manhattan, and he called New York City his home until his death. This wasn’t a big deal, as the actor was very selective about what film roles he took. The star could easily travel to Hollywood for a little while and then return to Manhattan to live his life of leisure.
Montgomery Clift couldn’t have done things his way in the entertainment industry if he didn’t have the acting chops to back himself up. The first film that the actor appeared in was 1948’s Red River, and it was already apparent at that point that Montgomery was just the antidote to the fading ways of Old Hollywood that the audience was looking for. More successful films followed, including 1949’s The Heiress. However, it was 1951’s aforementioned A Place in the Sun that really kicked things off for Montgomery’s career.
1951’s A Place in the Sun was a major success, despite the fact that it included the taboo subject matter of abortion. The on-screen pairing of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor was an instant hit with audiences, and it was no surprise when the performers were paired up again later that same decade. Montgomery and Elizabeth’s second film together was 1957’s Raintree County. Tragically, Montgomery suffered a car accident during the production of the picture that would change his life- and his career- forever.
The Tragic Car Accident That Changed Everything
During the production of Raintree County, Montgomery Clift got into a car accident that nearly killed him. The actor lost control of his vehicle while driving, and the car ended up rolling head-on into a pole. Luckily, Montgomery survived. However, his recovery period would be long and difficult. The actor’s injuries were extreme, and the majority of them related to his face. Given that the actor had just made a name for himself as one half of cinema’s most beautiful couple, this was quite the tragic blow to his career.
Montgomery Clift ended up recovering from his injuries, which included a broken jaw and several lacerations to the face. The lacerations required plastic surgery in order to make Montgomery’s face appear normal. However, the actor still didn’t look exactly the same as he had before. Though Montgomery recovered, there was still something a little bit more weathered about his appearance after the accident. The actor could no longer perform roles as a romantic leading man, but he could still take on other acting gigs.
Raintree County wasn’t finished filming when Montgomery Clift got in his tragic car accident. After the accident, the production of the film was put on hold until the actor’s recovery. Once recovered, he filmed the rest of his scenes. Of course, there was a significant difference in the actor’s appearance during the scenes filmed before and after the accident. Montgomery had a sense of humor about the whole thing, remarking in the presses that his change of appearance was going to help draw gawkers to the theaters.
Montgomery Clift Was One of The Misfits
One of Montgomery Clift’s more notable roles after his car accident was in 1961’s The Misfits. Of course, this was the last film of both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Both of these stars had succumbed to substance abuse in their respective lives and didn’t have much longer to live. Coincidentally, Montgomery was mirroring their downward trajectory in his own life, and the car accident was to blame. During the painful recovery period the followed the accident, Montgomery had become hooked on painkillers. He would continue to deal with pain over the course of his remaining years, and his dependence would only get worse and worse.
Clark Gable died in 1960, before The Misfits was even released. Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, a year after it’s release. Montgomery Clift managed to hold on a little longer, passing way in 1966. Clark was the oldest of the three stars upon his passing, being 59 years old. As we’ve already established, Montgomery was 45. Marilyn was only 36. The three performers’ deaths give The Misfits a haunted feel in retrospect. According to legend, Marilyn Monroe had remarked after the production of the film that Clark Gable had been the only costar she had ever encountered that was as messed up as she was. Clift died of a heart attack.
If it hadn’t been for the car accident that occurred during the production of 1957’s Raintree County, Montgomery Clift could’ve been an even bigger star than he was. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Montgomery Clift never signed a long-term contract with a studio, and that the famously gay actor may have had a romance with A Place in the Sun costar Elizabeth Taylor? Comment down below!