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Thanks for posting this, Makarova Fan, my first hearing of it. Recently, a friend and I seem to always be talking about 'the old stars who are still with us', and she usually comes up. One never knows, of course. Yes, she was wonderful in many things, both as a child in 'Great Expectations', and as an adult, in everything from 'Hamlet' to 'The Grass Is Greener' (this is good, by the way, with a stellar cast along with Simmons, that is to say, Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, and Cary Grant). Very beautiful, but not quite a big star so much as a fine actress. May have to do with the slight quirkiness in the sound of the voice, there are some people who confuse her with Audrey Hepburn (as in a fiction story I once read about 'Desiree'), but Audrey is the bigger star, although as an actress the range was smaller (Audrey got stuck in all those Givenchy fashion-show stupid movies by the 60s). She reminds me perhaps or Vivien Leigh more, though, although I much prefer Simmons. Marvelous also in 'Elmer Gantry' and 'Desiree', of course, and I liked her in Agee's 'All the Way Home' and also 'Until They Sail' and 'Angel Face', just to mention a few. She's got a great body of work.

Just read the obit in the Times--I hadn't known that whole story about Howard Hughes and Steward Granger, fascinating that Hughes tried to ruin her with bad movies, and yet it didn't work.

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Very sad news. My favorite role of hers was Kanchi in Black Narcissus. She doesn't say a word; everything is communicated with body language and those beautiful eyes. Simmons was only a teenager when she made that film, and as good as she was in later movies, for me she never surpassed that early performance.

RIP Ms. Simmons.

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Jean Simmons was one of the actresses of my childhood and teenage that I adored.

She was lost to the world of dance having been discovered by a film director at the Ada Foster Dance School where she had started training two weeks earlier. After her first film Give us the Moon(1943), she did however complete her dance training and obtained a teachers licence at the age of sixteen.

Her performance in The Way to the Stars (1945) caught the attention of producer Gabriel Pascal who launched the careers in films of Vivien Leigh and Deborah Kerr. Pascal was to offer her a long-contract with the J. Arthur Rank Studio, though only 16 she accepted.

Miss Simmons appeared with many of the famous film stars of the 1950’s and 60’s, but it was in our tiny local cinema that showed old films where often sitting alone in the front row head back looking up at the screen that I can still see myself and the black and white images of her that captured my imagination and my heart.

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I read about her death yesterday and told my husband. He and I both liked her acting. My husband couldn't believe that she was only 80 and thought it must be a mistake. Of course, she would've turned 81 in 8 days, but still, young. So, I read more and saw that she started acting in movies at the age of 14!

I liked her modest reserve which came through as her personality even when in character for her roles. Her quiet beauty affirmed it.

Here's the link to her NYT obituary:

Jean Simmons obituary

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When I saw her as Estella in Great Expectations, I thought she was the most beautiful young girl in the world. Rest in peace.

I think in 1946 she may well have been the most beautiful young girl in the world. :D You can see why young Pip is dazzled by her.

I can't think offhand of a bad Simmons performance, but I remember with special pleasure her natural, tender and very affecting Ophelia in Olivier's Hamlet, Angel Face, The Actress with Spencer Tracy, and Elmer Gantry.

She was up for Roman Holiday, as is noted in the obit Marga helpfully linked to, but as Simmons herself pointed out it probably wouldn't have done for her what it did for Hepburn, although you never know.But if it was any comfort to her, she turned out a much better actor.

Thanks for posting, MakarovaFan. RIP.

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