A lot of people tend to overly romanticize Hollywood life. They’re often blinded by the glitz and glamour that a life in film can offer while neglecting to contemplate just how taxing the spotlight can be on one’s mental and emotional well-being. Simply put, being a star isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. When living in the limelight, stars frequently lose out on a lot of, if not all of, their autonomy.
It also is incredibly difficult to maintain happy and healthy relationships when every bit of your personal life is constantly being poked, prodded, and dissected by the parasitic media. It’s almost impossible to live a “normal” life when your name is plastered on marquees across the country, and your image is being printed alongside articles with questionable claims in the pages of countless gossip rags.
In this facts-packed video, we’ll be reflecting on the many challenges and obstacles that one of the early 20th-centuries most famous stars had to face. The point of this video isn’t to make light of the trials and tribulations that this star had to face, but instead, it’s our hope that her tale can instead serve as a cautionary one.
Many of our viewers who have been watching Facts Verse videos for a while now already know all about the many downsides of living in Hollywood. From having all of the details of your romantic relationships constantly put under the microscope to suffering from mental health crises for all the world to see, being a celebrity is far from easy.
It’s hard not to be moved by the tragic life story of actress Gene Tierney. Although she was blessed with beauty and talent and managed to rise to fame at an early age, a series of very unlucky events would ultimately bring her to a point in which she would contemplate taking her own life.
Keep watching to learn all about her heartbreaking experience in Tinsel Town. Throughout this video, we’ll be sharing with you some incredibly rare photos of Tierney that show a much sadder story than you’d expect from a Hollywood megastar.
From A Life Privilege To Misery
Tierney was the daughter of a very successful insurance broker. She grew up in a very privileged household. By the time she was in her late teens, she was already quite a looker and was determined to pursue an acting career. First getting her start in Broadway productions, in time, Tierney was spotted by Hollywood mogul Darryl Zanuck who extended her a contract with 20th Century Fox.
When she was just 20 years old, Tierney appeared in her first big screen role in Fritz Lang’s The Return of Frank James, which hit theaters in 1940. By 1943, Tierney was co-starring alongside Don Ameche in the Ernst Lubitsch film Heaven Can Wait.
A year later, Gene appeared in the role in which she’d become best known for. In Otto Preminger’s Laura, Gene played a beautiful young career woman who astonishingly reappeared after she was apparently murdered. To this day, the film is still considered to be one of the greatest mysteries ever made.
In 1945, Tierney earned her first and only Oscar nomination for her performance in Leave Her To Heaven. In that movie, she portrayed a possessive socialite with deviously murderous tendencies.
For the next several years, Tierney would continue to appear in several critically acclaimed films, but behind the scenes, her turbulent personal life was beginning to take a toll on her work. In 1941, she married the playboy designer Oleg Cassini. The couple’s relationship was very challenging, to say the least, and was more tumultuous than it was passionate. Tierney and Cassini ended up getting divorced in 1948, but not long after that, they got back together. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for their relationship to wind up back on the rocks, and in 1952, they split for good.
While her love life was quite difficult, so was Gene’s health. While she was pregnant with her first child, Tierney contracted Rubella from one of her fans. When little Daria Cassini was born in 1943, she was unfortunately both deaf and extensively mentally disabled.
Before going their separate ways, Tierney and Cassini would have a second daughter, Christina, who was born in 1948.
When Tierney and Cassini’s marriage collapsed, Gene was put over the edge. She was so filled with grief that she had no choice but to withdraw from the cast of the 1953 film Mogambo. Her role instead went to then-newcomer Grace Kelly.
By the time that she appeared opposite Humphrey Bogart in 1955’s The Left Hand Of God, Tierney’s fragile emotional state made it challenging for her to recall her lines. Bogart tried his best to lend her a hand on set, but in private, he counseled her to seek professional help as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, Tierney ended up seeking out the wrong sort of help. Back in the day, the go-to treatment for mental adversities such as the ones that she suffered from was electric shock therapy. Sadly, after submitting to several rounds of shock treatment, Tierney was left with a severely impaired memory.
In 1957, Tierney reached her lowest point when she had to be talked down off a ledge at her mother’s apartment building high up on the fourteenth floor. She then spent a rather lengthy stay at the Menninger Clinic in Kansas.
Tierney’s mental health stabilized in the early 1960s. At that point, she staged a brief comeback but not long after that she retired from films altogether.
In 1969, Tierney married oil tycoon W. Howard Lee. Previously Lee had been married to Hedy Lamarr. After tying the knot, Tierney and Lee moved to Texas.
Tierney ended up outliving her second husband by more a decade before dying of emphysema in 1991. In yet another unfortunate turn of events, it was discovered that smoking cigarettes is what caused her to develop emphysema. Incidentally, she had only picked up the habit to make her on-screen voice sound a bit more nuanced.
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She Had An Affair With JFK
In 1946, Gene Tierney was still one of the hottest stars in Hollywood thanks to her memorable performance in Otto Preminger’s Laura. Her next film role was in Joseph Mankiewicz Dragonwyck. At one point during that film’s production, Mankiewicz instructed her to turn closely and look into the camera.
When Tierney followed the director’s instructions, she found herself staring into what she would later describe as the most perfect blue eyes that she had ever seen on a man. The gentleman in question was standing close to the camera, wearing a Navy lieutenants Uniform.
While gazing into his eyes, he smiled at her. According to her 1978 autobiography “Self-Portrait”, Tierney’s reaction was something straight out of a romance novel. She even noted that her heart seemed to skip a beat.
To her, it was love at first sight, but when the scene was over, and she stepped forward to meet the man that she had just swooned over, she realized that he was none other than John F. Kennedy.
At the time, Tierney was still married to Oleg Cassini, but their marriage had been on the way for quite some time already, and they were already in the middle of divorce proceedings.
Later that evening, Tierney wrote a long, heartfelt letter to her sister, Pat. She told her that she desired for her to meet this handsome young man from Boston and speculated about who was meant to fall in love with him, she or her sister.
Tierney and JFK met again at the home of professional skater Sonja Henie. Tierney had come to the get-together with a date, but Kennedy promptly dispatched that unfortunate guy. He then took Tierney to an empty room in the house, where the proceeded to share an intimate dance.
At one point, he reportedly told her that he could dance with her for the rest of his life. Tierney decided right then and there that it would be very easy for her to fall for him.
Kennedy proceeded to ask Tierney many questions about her work. In the process, he revealed just how well he was already familiar with the topic. John’s father had previously invested in the movies and had an eye for some of the biggest actresses of his time including Gloria Swanson and Marion Davies.
While sharing a meal together, John and Gene realized that they had something else in common. Both had family members who were mentally underdeveloped. Tierney had her daughter Daria while Kennedy had his sister Rosemary.
Kennedy told her all about how Rosemary was born mentally challenged and how his family continued to love and support her. The topic was fairly awkward for him to discuss, but it allowed Kennedy to connect with Tierney in a way that few could.
Tierney and Kennedy continued to date for the better part of the next year, but eventually their relationship came to an end when Kennedy told her that he couldn’t marry her due to his political ambitions. It’s also worth noting that the Tierney family didn’t approve of their romance seeing as how they were Republicans and Episcopalians while Kennedy was a Democrat and Catholic.
In 1960, Gene sent John a not congratulating him on his victory in the presidential election. She went on to briefly date Kirk Douglas before striking up a romance with Prince Aly Khan while filming 1953s Personal Affairs in Europe. Their marriage plans were halted however when the Prince’s father Aga Khan III expressed his fierce opposition to the union.
Clearly, Gene Tierney’s Hollywood journey wasn’t exactly an easy one. From mental health struggles to numerous failed marriages and romances, It seemed as if Tierney always faced some kind of adversity at every turn.
Fortunately, her suicide attempt was thwarted just in the nick of time, and she was able to eventually regain some stability. At the time of her death in 1991, Tierney was 70 years old – so at least she was able to live out a full life.
And judging by how well she is still remembered by critics and audiences alike, it’s safe to say that Gene Tierney’s legacy will continue to flourish for many years to come.
Did you know that Gene Tierney dated JFK for almost a year and that her daughter was born both deaf and mentally undeveloped after she contracted Rubella from a fan while she was pregnant? Let us know in the comments.
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