Jean Simmons (1929-2010)

The wonderful Jean Simmons died last week at the age of 80. I’ve always enjoyed her in the movies and on TV series. She was a talented actress who could take on any role, from classic drama (Estella in Great Expectations) to Shakespeare tragedy (Ophelia in Laurence Olivier’s production of Hamlet) to westerns (The Big Country with Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston) to light comedy (The Grass is Greener with Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, and Robert Mitchum). Simmons played the lead in epics such as The Robe and Spartacus, but could also handle a musical role in Guys and Dolls with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. But my favorite of all her performances was as the evangelist Sister Sharon Falconer in Elmer Gantry, opposite Burt Lancaster. In later years she did voiceover work and television series such as North and South and The Thorn Birds. And in nearly every role, Jean Simmons proved that beautiful can be tough, too.