I had my first glimpse of Montgomery Clift in the film, Suddenly Last Summer. I was hooked. He showed a man full of mystery and vulnerability that I personally could relate to, and I had never seen that in men on the big screen. I soon became a fan of Monty.
His most memorable role was probably that of Rudolph Peterson in Judgment at Nuremberg, but that was not released until the 60’s after an automobile accident had scarred his face and his psyche. My favorite role of Monty’s was in the 1957 film, Raintree County, when he falls in love with the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor character. In 1956, during filming of Raintree County (1957), he ran his Chevrolet into a tree after leaving a party at Elizabeth Taylor’s; it was she who saved him from choking by pulling out two teeth lodged in his throat. His smashed face was rebuilt.
Unfortunately, Monty was more like his character in Suddenly Last Summer. Confused, introverted and emotionally unstable. Like many of Elizabeth Taylor’s close friends, Monty struggled with his sexuality and his Hollywood persona and his life ended tragically and too quickly for this great screen star. After many years he reconciled with his estranged father, but he continued bedeviled by dependency on drugs and his unrelenting guilt over his homosexuality. On July 22, 1966, his companion Lorenzo James found him lying nude on top of his bed, dead from what the autopsy called “occlusive coronary artery disease.” His death was called the longest suicide in history by famed acting teacher, Robert Lewis.