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Gene Tierney

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Subject: Laura (1944 film), The Egyptian (film), 20th Century Fox Studio Classics, Leave Her to Heaven, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Collection: 1920 Births, 1991 Deaths, 20Th Century Fox Contract Players, 20Th-Century American Actresses, Actresses from New York City, American Academy of Dramatic Arts Alumni, American Film Actresses, American Memoirists, American People of Irish Descent, American Radio Actresses, American Stage Actresses, American Television Actresses, Burials at Glenwood Cemetery (Houston, Texas), Deaths from Emphysema, Disease-Related Deaths in Texas, People from Brooklyn, People with Bipolar Disorder
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Gene Tierney

Gene Tierney
Born Gene Eliza Tierney
(1920-11-19)November 19, 1920
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died November 6, 1991(1991-11-06) (aged 70)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Cause of death Emphysema
Resting place Glenwood Cemetery
Nationality American
Education St. Margaret's School (Waterbury, Connecticut)
Unquowa School (Fairfield, Connecticut)
Brillantmont International School
Miss Porter's School
Occupation Actress
Years active 1938–1980
  • Oleg Cassini (1941–1952)
  • W. Howard Lee (1960–1981, his death)
Children Antoinette Daria Cassini (1943–2010)
Christina Cassini (1948–2015)
Website /tierney/

Gene Eliza Tierney (November 19, 1920 – November 6, 1991)[1] was an American film and stage actress. Acclaimed as a great beauty, she became established as a leading lady.[2][3] Tierney was best known for her portrayal of the title character in the film Laura (1944), and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Ellen Berent Harland in Leave Her to Heaven (1945).[4]

Tierney's other roles include Martha Strable Van Cleve in Heaven Can Wait (1943), Isabel Bradley Maturin in The Razor's Edge (1946), Lucy Muir in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Ann Sutton in Whirlpool (1949), Maggie Carleton McNulty in The Mating Season (1951) and Anne Scott in The Left Hand of God (1955).


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Broadway 2.1
    • Film career 2.2
    • Health issues 2.3
    • Comeback 2.4
  • Personal life 3
  • Later years 4
  • Death 5
  • Broadway credits 6
  • Filmography 7
  • Radio appearances 8
  • Quotes 9
    • By Tierney 9.1
  • Cultural references 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
    • Works referenced 12.1
  • External links 13

Early life

Tierney was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Howard Sherwood Tierney and Belle Lavina Taylor. She was named after a beloved uncle, who died young.[4] She had an elder brother, Howard Sherwood “Butch” Tierney, Jr., and a younger sister, Patricia “Pat” Tierney. Their father was a successful insurance broker of Irish descent, their mother a former physical education instructor.[4]

Tierney attended St. Margaret's School in Waterbury, Connecticut, and the Unquowa School in Fairfield. She published her first poem, entitled "Night", in the school magazine and wrote poetry occasionally throughout her life. Tierney played Jo in a student production of Little Women, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott.

Tierney spent two years in Europe, attending Brillantmont International School in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she learned to speak fluent French. She returned to the U.S. in 1938 and attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut. On a family trip to the West Coast, she visited Warner Bros. studios, where a cousin worked as a producer of historical short films. Director Anatole Litvak, taken by the 17-year-old’s beauty, told her that she should become an actress. Warner Bros. wanted to sign her to a contract, but her parents advised against it because of the relatively low salary; they also wanted her in a higher social position.[4]


External links

Works referenced

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "Tierney emerged as a leading lady of equal beauty and depth...Tierney attained a strata of celebrity that put her on par with fellow sirens Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner and Ava Gardner". Turner Classics Movies
  3. ^ Gene Tierney: A BiographyMichelle Vogel, 2005. Quote: "Called the most beautiful woman in movie history, Gene Tierney starred in a number of 1940s classics, including Laura, Leave Her to Heaven and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Self-Portrait. Tierney and Herskowitz (1979). Wyden Books. pp. 1, 9-10, 14, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25-26, 27, 33, 36, 38, 65-66, 91, 97, 101, 119, 131, 133, 141-42, 144, 150-51, 164-65, 192-192, 207.
  5. ^ a b "Debutante Gene Tierney Makes Her Entrance In A Broadway Success", Life Magazine, February 19, 1940. Vol 8, No. 8, p. 25.
  6. ^ a b Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait, The Biography Channel, March 26, 1999 interview with Gene Tierney's sister Patricia.
  7. ^ at the 45th New York Film FestivalLeave Her to HeavenMartin Scorsese discusses on YouTube
  8. ^ Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait. The Biography Channel, March 26, 1999 interview with film scholar Jeanine Basinger.
  9. ^ a b Osborne (2006). Chronicle Books. Leading Ladies. p. 195.
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Kent Demaret, "Gene Tierney Began Her Trip Back from Madness on a Ledge 14 Floors Above the Street", People, 7 May 1979, accessed 21 January 2014
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b c
  22. ^ Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait, The Biography Channel. March 26, 1999.
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait, The Biography Channel. March 26, 1999
  29. ^


See also

  • Tierney was ranked number 71 in Premiere Magazine's list of "The 100 Sexiest Movie Stars of All Time".[27]
  • When Grauman's Chinese Theatre resumed making cement handprints and footprints after World War II ended in 1945, Tierney was the first actress asked to add her handprint.
  • A noted comedy routine between Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis involved Lewis (in boxing shorts and gear) stating that he's fighting Gene Tierney.[28]
  • In "House Arrest", a third-season episode of M*A*S*H*, the actors watch Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven. After Cornel Wilde kisses Tierney passionately, Hawkeye Pierce says, "If he straightens out that overbite, I'll kill him."
  • Tierney was featured as the heroine of a novel, Gene Tierney and the Invisible Wedding Gift (1947), written by Kathryn Heisenfelt.[29]
  • Agatha Christie is widely assumed to have based her 1962 novel The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side on the real-life German measles tragedy of Tierney and her baby, as the stories are virtually identical.

Cultural references

  • "I don't think Howard [Hughes] could love anything that did not have a motor in it."[11]
  • "Joe Schenck, a top 20th Century-Fox executive, once said to me that he really believed I had a future, and that was because I was the only girl who could survive so many bad pictures." —quoted in The RKO Girls

By Tierney


Year Program Episode/source
1946 Lux Radio Theatre Dragonwyck[25]
1946 Hollywood Star Time Bedelia[26]

Radio appearances

List of television credits, including co-stars
Year Title Role Other cast members Notes
1947 The Sir Charles Mendl Show Herself Host: Sir Charles Mendl
1953 Toast of the Town Herself Host: Ed Sullivan Episode #6.33
1954 26th Academy Awards Herself Host: Donald O'Connor, Fredric March Presenter: Costume Design Awards
1957 What's My Line? Herself Host: John Charles Daly Episode: August 25, Mystery guest
1960 General Electric Theater Ellen Galloway Host: Ronald Reagan Episode: "Journey to a Wedding"
1969 F.B.I., TheThe F.B.I. Faye Simpson Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Episode: "Conspiracy of Silence"
1969 Daughter of the Mind Lenore Constable Ray Milland TV movie
1974 Merv Griffin Show, TheThe Merv Griffin Show Herself Host: Merv Griffin
1979 Merv Griffin Show, TheThe Merv Griffin Show Herself Host: Merv Griffin
1980 Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, TheThe Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Herself Host: Johnny Carson
1980 Mike Douglas Show, TheThe Mike Douglas Show Herself Host: Mike Douglas
1980 Dinah! Herself Host: Dinah Shore
1980 Scruples Harriet Toppington Lindsay Wagner TV Mini-series
1999 Biography Herself (archive material) Host: Peter Graves "Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait", biographical documentary, March 26
List of film credits, including directors and principal cast members
Year Title Role Director Other cast members Notes
1940 Return of Frank James, TheThe Return of Frank James Eleanor Stone Lang, FritzFritz Lang Henry Fonda Technicolor
1941 Hudson's Bay Barbara Hall Pichel, IrvingIrving Pichel
1941 Tobacco Road Ellie Mae Lester Ford, JohnJohn Ford
1941 Belle Starr Belle Starr Cummings, IrvingIrving Cummings
1941 Sundown Zia Hathaway, HenryHenry Hathaway Bruce Cabot
1941 Shanghai Gesture, TheThe Shanghai Gesture Victoria Charteris aka
Poppy Smith
von Sternberg, JosefJosef von Sternberg Walter Huston
1942 Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake Eve Cromwell, JohnJohn Cromwell Tyrone Power Sepia tone (sequences)
1942 Rings on Her Fingers Susan Miller (aka Linda Worthington) Mamoulian, RoubenRouben Mamoulian Henry Fonda
1942 Thunder Birds Kay Saunders Wellman, William A.William A. Wellman Technicolor
1942 China Girl Miss Haoli Young Hathaway, HenryHenry Hathaway George Montgomery
1943 Heaven Can Wait Martha Strabel Van Cleve Lubitsch, ErnstErnst Lubitsch Don Ameche Technicolor
1944 Laura Laura Hunt Preminger, OttoOtto Preminger
1945 Bell for Adano, AA Bell for Adano Tina Tomasino King, HenryHenry King John Hodiak
1945 Leave Her to Heaven Ellen Brent Harland Stahl, John M.John M. Stahl
1946 Dragonwyck Miranda Wells Van Ryn Mankiewicz, Joseph L.Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Walter Huston
  • Vincent Price
1946 Razor's Edge, TheThe Razor's Edge Isabel Bradley Maturin Goulding, EdmundEdmund Goulding
1947 Ghost and Mrs. Muir, TheThe Ghost and Mrs. Muir Lucy Muir Mankiewicz, Joseph L.Joseph L. Mankiewicz
1948 Iron Curtain, TheThe Iron Curtain Anna Gouzenko Wellman, William A.William A. Wellman Dana Andrews
1948 That Wonderful Urge Sara Farley Sinclair, Robert B.Robert B. Sinclair Tyrone Power
1949 Whirlpool Ann Sutton Preminger, OttoOtto Preminger
1950 Night and the City Mary Bristol Dassin, JulesJules Dassin Richard Widmark
1950 Where the Sidewalk Ends Morgan Taylor (Payne) Preminger, OttoOtto Preminger Dana Andrews
1951 Mating Season, TheThe Mating Season Maggie Carleton McNulty Leisen, MitchellMitchell Leisen
1951 On the Riviera Lili Duran Lang, WalterWalter Lang Danny Kaye Technicolor
1951 Secret of Convict Lake, TheThe Secret of Convict Lake Marcia Stoddard Gordon, MichaelMichael Gordon Glenn Ford
1951 Close to My Heart Midge Sheridan Keighley, WilliamWilliam Keighley Ray Milland
1952 Way of a Gaucho Teresa Tourneur, JacquesJacques Tourneur Rory Calhoun Technicolor
1952 Plymouth Adventure Dorothy Bradford Brown, ClarenceClarence Brown Technicolor
1953 Never Let Me Go Marya Lamarkina Daves, DelmerDelmer Daves Clark Gable
1953 Personal Affair Kay Barlow Pelissier, AnthonyAnthony Pelissier
1954 Black Widow Iris Denver Johnson, NunnallyNunnally Johnson Ginger Rogers CinemaScope, Deluxe color
1954 Egyptian, TheThe Egyptian Baketamon Curtiz, MichaelMichael Curtiz CinemaScope, Deluxe color
1955 Left Hand of God, TheThe Left Hand of God Anne Scott Dmytryk, EdwardEdward Dmytryk Humphrey Bogart CinemaScope, Deluxe color
1962 Advise and Consent Dolly Harrison Preminger, OttoOtto Preminger Panavision
1963 Toys in the Attic Albertine Prine Hill, George RoyGeorge Roy Hill Dean Martin
1963 Las cuatro noches de la luna llena Martin, SobeySobey Martin Dan Dailey English title: Four Nights of the Full Moon
1964 Pleasure Seekers, TheThe Pleasure Seekers Jane Barton Negulesco, JeanJean Negulesco Ann-Margret CinemaScope, Deluxe color


Year Title Format/genre Role Staged by
1938 What A Life! Original Play, Comedy Walk on, Water carrier Abbott, GeorgeGeorge Abbott
1938 Primrose Path, TheThe Primrose Path Original Play, Drama/Comedy Understudy Abbott, GeorgeGeorge Abbott
1939 Mrs O'Brien Entertains Original Play, Comedy Molly O'Day Abbott, GeorgeGeorge Abbott
1939 Ring Two Original Play, Comedy Peggy Carr Abbott, GeorgeGeorge Abbott
1940 Male Animal, TheThe Male Animal Original Play, Comedy Patricia Stanley Shumlin, HermanHerman Shumlin

Broadway credits

Certain documents of Tierney's film-related material, personal papers, letters, etc., are held in the Wesleyan University Cinema Archives, to which scholars, media experts, and the public may have access.[24]

Tierney died of emphysema in 1991 in Houston.[1] She is interred in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. Tierney was survived by her daughters Daria and Christina. Daria died on September 11, 2010, aged 66. Tina died on March 31, 2015, of ovarian cancer in Paris, France.[23]


Tierney has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6125 Hollywood Boulevard.

In 1986, Tierney was honored alongside actor Gregory Peck with the first Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.[22]

Tierney's second husband, W. Howard Lee, died on February 17, 1981 after a long illness.[21]

Tierney's autobiography, Self-Portrait, in which she candidly discusses her life, career, and mental illness, was published in 1979.

Later years

In 1960, 20th Century Fox announced Tierney would play the lead role in Return to Peyton Place, but she dropped out of the project after becoming pregnant. She later miscarried.[4]

In 1958, Tierney met Texas oil baron W. Howard Lee, who had been married to actress Hedy Lamarr since 1953. Lee and Lamarr divorced in 1960 after a long battle over alimony,[21] then Lee and Tierney married in Aspen, Colorado, on July 11, 1960. They lived quietly in Houston, Texas, and Florida[11] until his death in 1981.[21]

Tierney remarried Cassini, but they divorced again on February 28, 1952. "Cassini promised in his 1952 divorce from Gene Tierney that he would write a will leaving both of his daughters half of his fortune".[19] Cassini later bequeathed $500,000 in trust to Daria and $1,000,000 to Christina.[19][20] Cassini and Tierney remained friends until her death in November 1991.

During their separation, Tierney met John F. Kennedy, a young veteran from WWII, who was visiting the set of Dragonwyck in 1946. They began a romance that she ended the following year after Kennedy told her he could never marry her because of his political ambitions.[9] In 1960, Tierney sent Kennedy a note of congratulations on his victory in the presidential election. During this time, newspapers documented Tierney's other romantic ensnarements, including Kirk Douglas [18]

Tierney and Cassini separated October 20, 1946, and entered into a property settlement agreement November 10, 1946.[14] Periodicals during this period record Tierney with Charles Feldman,[15] including articles related to her "twosoming"[16] with Feldman, her "current best beau".[17] An uncontested divorce followed in California; their final divorce decree was dated March 13, 1948. The couple reconciled on August 19, 1948.[14]

[4] Tierney's friend

In June 1943, while pregnant with Daria, Tierney contracted rubella (German measles), likely from a fan ill with the disease.[11] Daria was born prematurely in Washington, DC, weighing three pounds, two ounces (1.42 kg) and requiring a total blood transfusion. The rubella caused congenital damage: Daria was deaf, partially blind with cataracts, and severely mentally disabled. She was institutionalized for much of her life.[11] This was partial inspiration for the Agatha Christie novel The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side.

Tierney married two men: the first was Oleg Cassini, a costume and fashion designer, on June 1, 1941, with whom she eloped. Her parents opposed the marriage, as he was from a Russian-Italian family and born in Europe.[11] Cassini and she had two daughters, Antoinette Daria Cassini (October 15, 1943 – September 11, 2010)[12] and Christina "Tina" Cassini (November 19, 1948 – March 31, 2015), born after their first divorce, paternity of whom was the subject of intrigue and speculation at the time due to Tierney's links with Howard Hughes, Tyrone Power, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Charles Feldman.[13]

Personal life

Tierney's career as a solid character actress seemed to be back on track as she played Jane Barton in The Pleasure Seekers (1964), but then she suddenly retired. She returned to star in the television movie Daughter of the Mind (1969) with Don Murray and Ray Milland. Her final performance was in the TV miniseries Scruples (1980).[4]

Tierney made a screen comeback in Advise and Consent (1962), co-starring with Franchot Tone.[4] Soon afterwards, she played Albertine Prine in Toys in the Attic (1963), based on the play by Lillian Hellman. This was followed by the international production of Las cuatro noches de la luna llena, (Four Nights of the Full Moon - 1963), in which she starred with Dan Dailey. She received critical praise overall for her performances.


Later in 1958, 20th Century-Fox offered Tierney a lead role in Holiday for Lovers (1959), but the stress upon her proved too great, so only days into production, she dropped out of the film and returned to Menninger for a time.[11]

In late December 1957, Tierney, from her mother's apartment in Manhattan, stepped onto a ledge 14 stories above ground and remained for about 20 minutes in what was considered a suicide attempt.[11] Police were called, and afterwards Tierney's family arranged for her to be admitted to the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. The following year, after treatment for depression, she was released. Afterwards, she worked as a sales girl in a local dress shop with hopes of integrating back into society,[11] but she was recognized by a customer, resulting in sensational newspaper headlines.

Tierney consulted a psychiatrist and was admitted to Harkness Pavilion in New York. Later, she went to The Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. After some 27 shock treatments, intended to alleviate severe depression, Tierney fled the facility, but was caught and returned. She later became an outspoken opponent of shock treatment therapy, claiming it had destroyed significant portions of her memory.

With difficult events in her personal life, Tierney struggled for years with episodes of manic depression. In 1943, she gave birth to a daughter Daria who was deaf and mentally disabled, the result of a fan breaking out of rubella quarantine and infecting the pregnant Tierney while she volunteered at the Hollywood Canteen. In 1953, she suffered problems with concentration, which affected her film appearances. She dropped out of Mogambo and was replaced by Grace Kelly.[4] While playing Anne Scott in The Left Hand of God (1955), opposite Humphrey Bogart, Tierney became ill. Bogart had personal experience as he was close to a sister who suffered from mental illness, so during the production, he fed Tierney her lines and encouraged her to seek help.[4]

Pin-up photo in World War II magazine Brief

Tierney had reportedly started smoking after a screening of her first movie to lower her voice, because she felt, "I sound like an angry Minnie Mouse."[10] She subsequently became a heavy smoker.[10]

Health issues

Tierney remained in Europe to play Kay Barlow in United Artists' Personal Affair (1953). While in Europe, she began a romance with Prince Aly Khan, but their marriage plans met with fierce opposition from his father Aga Khan III.[4] Early in 1953, Tierney returned to the U.S. to co-star in film noir Black Widow (1954) as Iris Denver, with Ginger Rogers and Van Heflin.

After Tierney appeared opposite Rory Calhoun as Teresa in Way of a Gaucho (1952), her contract at 20th Century-Fox expired. That same year, she starred as Dorothy Bradford in Plymouth Adventure, opposite Spencer Tracy at MGM. She and Tracy had a brief affair during this time.[9] Tierney played Marya Lamarkina opposite Clark Gable in Never Let Me Go (1953), filmed in England.[4]

Tierney was loaned to Paramount Pictures, giving a comic turn as Maggie Carleton in Mitchell Leisen's ensemble farce, The Mating Season (1951), with John Lund, Thelma Ritter, and Miriam Hopkins.[4] She gave a tender performance as Midge Sheridan in the Warner Bros. film, Close to My Heart (1951), with Ray Milland. The film is about a couple trying to adopt a child.[4] Later in her career, she was reunited with Milland in Daughter of the Mind (1969).

From the trailer for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

Tierney played Lucy Muir in Mankiewicz's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), opposite Rex Harrison.[8] The following year, she co-starred again with Power, this time as Sara Farley in the successful screwball comedy That Wonderful Urge (1948). As the decade came to a close, Tierney reunited with Laura director Preminger to star as Ann Sutton in the classic film noir Whirlpool (1949), co-starring Richard Conte and José Ferrer. She appeared in two other film noirs: Jules Dassin's Night and the City, shot im London, and Otto Preminger's Where the Sidewalk Ends (both 1950).

Tierney then starred as Miranda Wells in Dragonwyck (1946), along with Walter Huston and Vincent Price. It was Joseph L. Mankiewicz' debut film as a director, In the same period, she starred as Isabel Bradley, opposite Tyrone Power, in The Razor's Edge (also 1946), an adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel of the same name. Her performance was critically praised.

Tierney starred in what became her best remembered role: the title role in Otto Preminger's film noir Laura (1944), opposite Dana Andrews. After playing Tina Tomasino in A Bell for Adano (1945), she played the jealous, narcissistic femme fatale Ellen Berent Harland in Leave Her to Heaven (1945), adapted from a best selling novel by Ben Ames Williams. Appearing with Cornel Wilde, Tierney won an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. This was 20th Century-Fox' most successful film of the 1940s. It was cited by director Martin Scorsese as one of his favorite films of all time, and he assessed Tierney as one of the most underrated actresses of the Golden Era.[7]

"Lubitsch was a tyrant on the set, the most demanding of directors. After one scene, which took from noon until five to get, I was almost in tears from listening to Lubitsch shout at me. The next day I sought him out, looked him in the eye, and said, 'Mr. Lubitsch, I'm willing to do my best but I just can't go on working on this picture if you're going to keep shouting at me.' 'I'm paid to shout at you', he bellowed. 'Yes', I said, 'and I'm paid to take it – but not enough.' After a tense pause, Lubitsch broke out laughing. From then on we got along famously."[4]

Receiving top billing in Ernst Lubitsch's comedy Heaven Can Wait (1943), as Martha Strable Van Cleve, signaled an upward turn in Tierney's career. Tierney recalled during the production of Heaven Can Wait:

A small role as Barbara Hall followed in Hudson's Bay (1941) with Paul Muni and she co-starred as Ellie Mae Lester in John Ford's comedy Tobacco Road (also 1941), and played the title role in Belle Starr, Zia in Sundown, and Victoria Charteris (Poppy Smith) in The Shanghai Gesture. She played Eve in Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake (1942), as well as the dual role of Susan Miller (Linda Worthington) in Rouben Mamoulian's screwball comedy Rings on Her Fingers, and roles as Kay Saunders in Thunder Birds, and Miss Young in China Girl (all 1942).

Tierney signed with 20th Century-Fox[4] and her motion picture debut was in a supporting role as Eleanor Stone in Fritz Lang's western The Return of Frank James (1940), opposite Henry Fonda.

Gene Tierney in the film trailer for Laura (1944)

Film career

Two weeks after The Male Animal opened, play. See if you can sign that one." It was Tierney. At first, Zanuck did not think she was the actress he had seen. Tierney was quoted (after the fact), saying: "I always had several different 'looks', a quality that proved useful in my career."[4][6]

After a cameraman advised Tierney to lose a little weight, she wrote Harper's Bazaar magazine for a diet, which she followed for the next 25 years. Tierney was initially offered the lead role in National Velvet, but production was delayed.[4] When Columbia Pictures failed to find Tierney a project, she returned to Broadway and starred as Patricia Stanley to critical and commercial success in The Male Animal (1940). In The New York Times, Brooks Atkinson wrote, "Tierney blazes with animation in the best performance she has yet given".[4] She was the toast of Broadway before her 20th birthday. The Male Animal was a hit, and Tierney was featured in Life magazine. She was also photographed by Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, and Collier's Weekly.[4]

Tierney's father set up a corporation, Belle-Tier, to fund and promote her acting career. Columbia Pictures signed her to a six-month contract in 1939. She met Howard Hughes, who tried unsuccessfully to seduce her. From a well-to-do family herself, she was not impressed by his wealth.[4] Hughes eventually became a lifelong friend.

The following year, she appeared in the role of Molly O'Day in the Broadway production Mrs. O'Brien Entertains (1939).[4] The New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson wrote, "As an Irish maiden fresh from the old country, Gene Tierney in her first stage performance is very pretty and refreshingly modest."[4] That same year, Tierney appeared as Peggy Carr in Ring Two (1939) to favorable reviews. Theater critic Richard Watts, Jr. of the New York Herald Tribune wrote, "I see no reason why Miss Tierney should not have an interesting theatrical career – that is, if cinema does not kidnap her away."[4]

In Tierney's first role on Broadway, she carried a bucket of water across the stage in What a Life! (1938). A Variety magazine critic declared, "Miss Tierney is certainly the most beautiful water carrier I've ever seen!" She also worked as an understudy in The Primrose Path (1938).




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