Page last updated at 07:35 GMT, Saturday, 23 January 2010

British-born Hollywood actress Jean Simmons dies at 80

Jean Simmons in Murder She Wrote
Jean Simmons was one of Hollywood's most popular leading ladies

British film actress Jean Simmons, who played Ophelia in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet and sang with Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls, has died aged 80.

Simmons, who won an Emmy Award for her role in The Thorn Birds in the 1980s, died at her home in Santa Monica on Friday, her agent told the LA Times.

She had been suffering from lung cancer for some time.

The actress, who moved to Hollywood in 1950, first made her name playing Estella in 1946's Great Expectations.

She went on to become one of Hollywood's leading ladies, starring alongside Gregory Peck, Paul Newman and Kirk Douglas.

Jean Simmons during the 10th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Hollywood in 1956

Born in London in 1929, Simmons began her career at the age of 14, when she was plucked from a dance class to make her movie debut in the 1944 British production Give Us the Moon.

She then appeared in several minor British films before her breakthrough role in Great Expectations, followed by Black Narcissus and then Hamlet in 1948, where she earned an Oscar nomination.

The actress also proved her mettle playing Desiree to Marlon Brando's Napoleon, appearing alongside him again in Guys and Dolls in 1955.

She picked up a second Oscar nomination for 1969's The Happy Ending, before moving largely to television roles in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Simmons' first marriage was to fellow British film star Stewart Granger, who she met on the set of Caesar and Cleopatra.

The couple had been befriended by reclusive tycoon Howard Hughes in LA, who arranged their marriage in Tucson, Arizona.

Simmons and Granger had a daughter, Tracy, and starred in several films together.

However the pair divorced in 1960, with Simmons going on to marry Richard Brooks, who had directed her in Elmer Gantry.

Their marriage, which produced a daughter, Kate, ended in divorce in 1977.



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Obituary: Jean Simmons
23 Jan 10 |  UK


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