The secret life of legendary actor Montgomery Clift has been revealed by his nephew.
For decades, the star has been the subject of Hollywood gossip and speculation, and Robert Clift is determined to share his uncle's untold story.
"I was warned not to trust all the stories," Robert told Closer Weekly in a tell-all interview.
Montgomery has been painted as a desperately unhappy gay man with self-destructive patterns that many said led to his death from a heart ailment at age 45 in 1966. Robert said the image portrayed was misleading.
"I feel his life has been defined through a lens that’s informed by outdated and homophobic ideas," he said.
Controversy followed Montgomery and he risked fueling more rumors when he went against the norm by refusing to sign a seven-year studio contract. It ended up being a good decision as it allowed him to maintain his privacy.
"He valued his independence and didn’t want to participate in a sham marriage," Robert said. "He rejected [the studio system] in order to maintain the freedom to see whom he wanted, and to live a life that included seeing people of the same sex."
Amy Lawrence, author of "The Passion of Montgomery Clift," described Montgomery as a private man who was not interested in fame.
"There were photo spreads in fan magazines but he was recognized almost immediately as uncooperative," she explained. "He was there for the acting and not for the stardom. He was also hiding his private life."
In 1956, Montgomery was involved in a car crash that marred his physical appearance. The four-time Academy Award nominee, who was labeled a Hollywood heartthrob, broke his jaw and nose after smashing into a telephone pole that fateful night. There have since been rumors that this was what sparked his self-destructive habits, but Lawrence said nothing could be further from the truth.
"The accident did change his looks, but mostly it changed the public perception of his looks," she said. "He continued to work and he cared about the work. That is what kept him going."
Lawrence believes Montgomery's "long, slow suicide" began long before the accident and was triggered by health issues and a pattern of overindulgence.
"A lot of his problems predated the accident. I think nothing could have altered the trajectory of his life," she said.
"He made 17 films and at least six or eight of them are great movies," Lawrence added. "I think he’d like to be remembered for his work. Period."
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