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Jean Simmons
Studio publicity Jean Simmons.jpg
Jean Simmons in a 1955 studio publicity shot
Jean Merilyn Simmons

(1929-01-31)31 January 1929
Lower Holloway, London, England, UK
Died 22 January 2010(2010-01-22) (aged 80)
Cause of death Lung cancer
Nationality English-American
Alma mater Aida Foster School of Dance
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1944–2009
Stewart Granger
(m. 1950; div. 1960)

Richard Brooks
(m. 1960; div. 1980)
Children 2
Parent(s) Charles Simmons
Winifred Loveland Simmons

Jean Merilyn Simmons, OBE (31 January 1929 – 22 January 2010) was an English actress and singer. One of J. Arthur Rank's "well-spoken young starlets", she appeared predominantly in films, beginning with those made in Great Britain during and after the Second World War, followed mainly by Hollywood films from 1950 onwards.

Simmons was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Hamlet (1948), and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for Guys and Dolls (1955).

Other notable film appearances included Young Bess (1953), The Robe (1953), Elmer Gantry (1960), Spartacus (1960), and the 1969 film The Happy Ending, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Life and career

Jean Simmons in Young Bess trailer
Jean Simmons in Young Bess trailer

Simmons was born in Islington, London, to Charles Simmons, a bronze medallist in gymnastics at the 1912 Summer Olympics and his wife, Winifred (née Loveland) Simmons. Jean was the youngest of four children. During the Second World War, the Simmons family was evacuated to Winscombe, Somerset.

Her father, a physical education teacher, taught briefly at Sidcot School, and some time during this period, Simmons followed her eldest sister onto the village stage and sang songs such as "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow". At this point her ambition was to be an acrobatic dancer. On her return to London Jean enrolled at the Aida Foster School of Dance. Simmons was spotted by the director Val Guest, who cast her in Give Us the Moon.

She began her acting career while still a teenager. As a very promising young actress, she came to Hollywood in 1950 where she became a very popular actress. In the 1970s, she gradually turned to television work, notably in the highly successful miniseries The Thorn Birds (1983), for which she won an Emmy Award for best supporting actress, and North and South (1985).

Simmons was married twice. Her first was to actor Stewart Granger from 1950 to 1960, with whom she had a daughter. Simmons and Granger became American citizens in 1956. The second was to film director Richard Brooks from 1960 to 1977, with whom she had a second daughter. Both marriages ended in divorce.

Simmons died aged 80 in Santa Monica, California surrounded by family.

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