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Former Hollywood Heartthrob Montgomery Clift Hid His Sexuality and Struggled with Addiction

Rodolfo Vieira
Oct 22, 2021
03:40 P.M.
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Montgomery Clift is one of the most famous faces in Hollywood history, not only because of his work in front of the cameras but also his astonishingly good looks.

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Although he was talented, his appearance brought him quite a lot of attention as he was considered to be one of the most handsome men in the entertainment industry.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1920, son to William Clift and Ethel Clift, the late star has been hailed one of Hollywood's true Method actors and specialized in playing emotional characters.

Montgomery Clift and Joanne Dru on the left and Montgomery Clift years later on the right | Photo: Getty Images

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A WEATLHY UPBRINGING

While most artists had humble lives before rising to fame, Clift was born into a quite wealthy family, so he grew up in a very privileged environment.

When his father, a Wall Street broker, was away on work, Clift would accompany his family on trips all around Europe and Bermuda, where they had a second home.

Montgomery Clift at Paramount Studios during time of filming "A Place in the Sun" | Photo: Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

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A NEW BEGINNING

However, the family's luxurious life would get slammed by the 1929 stock market crash, forcing them to adapt to a brand new life, a modest one, in Sarasota, Florida.

Shortly after entering his teenage years, Clift tried his luck at the local theater company, where his mother first noticed his talent for acting and encouraged him to continue down that path.

Portrait of American actor Montgomery Clift as he looks over the back of a chair in the late 1940s or early 1950s | Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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After moving once again, this time to Massachusetts, Clift managed to get a role in Broadway's "Fly Away Home," followed by the leading role in "Dame Nature," in New York.

At 17 years old, Clift was already seen as a Broadway star, and his fame just kept on rising with each part, such as in "There Shall Be No Night," "Our Town" and "The Skin of Our Teeth."

Actor Montgomery Clift in 1950 | Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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THE NEXT STEP

The youngster loved being on stage, which was where he felt most comfortable, so he was very hesitant when the opportunity to jump to the big screen presented itself.

Nonetheless, and despite having reservations regarding his future and the directors he would be working with, he got his first gig in front of the cameras in the 1948 film "Red River."

Montgomery Clift and Joanne Dru in a poster for the 1948 film "Red River" | Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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Although it wasn't a huge role, Clift had the opportunity to work alongside one of the biggest stars at the time, western legend John Wayne, as well as director Howard Hawks.

It didn't take long for the actor to get another role as he also appeared in "The Search" that same year, where he portrayed an American G.I. in post-war Germany.

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The film skyrocketed Clift's career, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and allowing him to become involved in other high-rated projects.

Clift worked with Elizabeth Taylor in "A Place in the Sun," was cast by iconic filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock in "I Confess" and was on screen with Frank Sinatra and Deborah Kerr in "From Here to Eternity."

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HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH ELIZABETH TAYLOR

Taylor, however, was the only one he became really close to, with Charles Casillo, the author of "Elizabeth and Monty: The Untold Story of Their Intimate Friendship," calling them "soulmates."

The accident altered his appearance and he lost the incredibly handsome looks.

According to Casillo, Taylor, who was 17 at the time, already knew the effect that she had on man and tried to seduce Clift, with the two being caught kissing in the back of limos on more than one occasion.

Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1951 film "A Place in the Sun" | Photo: John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

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The handsome actor was definitely attracted to her as much as she was to him, but he reportedly couldn't bring himself up to tell her his secret - that he was gay.

For this reason, he kept their relationship at a purely platonic level, which only drove Taylor, who was used to men falling under her spell, to want him even more.

Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift's in the 1951 film "A Place in the Sun" | Photo: John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

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In the book, Casillo revealed that she would often invite him into her room to rehearse, and then undress in front of him and maintain a conversation with him while she was taking a bath. He said:

"He sat on the edge of the bathtub and actually rehearsed. This was intriguing to her because men were interested in her for her physicality. I really do think he's the first one who saw interest in her as a person."

Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in the MGM film "Raintree County" in 1957 | Photo: MGM Studios/Getty Images

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TELLING HER THE TRUTH

As time went by, they got closer and Clift eventually mustered the courage to open up to her about his sexuality. She understood and accepted him, and tried to think of other gay men he could meet.

Clift was gay during a very tough period in history when it comes to homosexuality, so he would keep his life private to the best of his ability.

Montgomery Clift relaxing in an armchair with his feet up in 1950 | Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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According to recent chroniclers, Clift was quite comfortable with who he was, and although he wouldn't necessarily hide the fact that he was gay, like Rock Hudson, he didn't flaunt it either.

The late star was a man who lived for his art since acting was his passion, and not necessarily the fame that came along with him. But his life took an unexpected turn in 1956.

Actor Montgomery Clift in 1955 | Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

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LEFT DESFIGURED

As he was leaving a party at Taylor's home, and under the effect of a couple of "downers," Clift crashed his car into a telephone pole and sustained serious injuries, such as a broken nose and jaw.

In his book, Casillo even claimed that Taylor saved his life by rushing toward him and reaching into his throat to pull out some broken teeth, which were obstructing his windpipe.

Montgomery Clift in the film "Judgment at Nuremberg" in 1961 | Photo: United Artists/Courtesy of Getty Images

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HE STRUGGLED WITH ADDICTION

The accident altered his appearance and he lost the incredibly handsome looks that he was known for. This loss of perfection, and physical pain, led him to develop a drug and alcohol addiction.

Still to this day, however, some biographers suggest that his addiction was fueled by the fact that he was forced to his hide sexuality, although there is no proof of it.

Clif passed away in 1966 at the age of 45, after one of his housemates was unable to wake him up. Following the autopsy, doctors determined that he died of a heart attack.

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