Photos Of Montgomery Clift Are Exposing A Side The Public Hasn’t Seen

Broadway star turned Hollywood heartthrob Montgomery Clift had a formidable career and his fair share of secrets. Amongst those were Clift’s sexuality and his history of abuse, issues he’d battle with until his death. But while many accounts tell of a star ashamed of his true identity, new information about the actor’s private life tells a very different story.

Edward Montgomery Clift was born to a wealthy family on October 17, 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska. During his youth, he enjoyed an aristocratic upbringing until the stock market crash of 1929 when the family began to live a more modest lifestyle in Florida.

When he was 13, Clift began acting in a local theater company. His mother recognized his potential and encouraged his pursuits after they moved to Massachusetts. At 15, he was given a part in the Broadway play Fly Away Home.

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For the next 10 years, he played roles in works by Tennessee Williams, Thornton Wilder, and other playwrights. Hollywood came knocking often, but he turned down many roles in the name of craft, including roles in classic films like East of Eden and the lead in Sunset Boulevard.

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The first film role Clift took, opposite John Wayne in Red River in 1948, offered a stark contrast to the western icon with a new interpretation of masculinity. Montgomery seemed born to break new ground.

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He was sensitive, vulnerable and cared for women. He broke more codes than just the stereotype of the leading man. His compassion on the screen was seen by all. Critics pointed out there was something different about Montgomery.

As one of Hollywood’s first method actors, Clift inspired other performers such as James Dean and Marlon Brando. His naturalistic style was celebrated by audiences and critics alike during the period and today.

Clift was comfortable using the full range of his beauty on screen in a way that had typically been reserved for female actors. He was a new type of actor, but that wouldn’t mean he’d have it easy.

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Deviating from the industry standard, Clift waited until after the success of his first two films to sign with a studio. He did this for many reasons, yet the big one was to keep control of his private life.

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By many accounts, Clift was comfortable with his sexuality. One of his former lovers, Jack Larson, claims that he was never worried about his sexuality and even greeted him with an open mouth kiss when they met. Unlike perceptions of the era, he was surrounded by supportive loved ones. 

Tapes recorded with his family suggest that his relatives had a very compassionate approach to his sexuality. His mother said she knew even when he was 12-13 years old.

Much of the Clift narrative is dominated by two biographies, a salacious one by Robert Laguardia and one by Patricia Bosworth which drew off of the gay self-hate cliche. These have clouded the perception of the star’s life.

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Much was speculated at the time about Clift’s relationship with Elizabeth Taylor in the gossip journals. Yet, their friendship had more layers than what was portrayed by the media.

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The two had a very close relationship for many years. She was the first one to share that he was gay and claimed him as her closest friend and confidant. 

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He advanced a collaborative approach with his directors, working over scripts and making suggestions for edits. “He wasn’t solely an actor,” Taylor said. “He had a holistic view.” Sadly, one night nearly ended all his promise.

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In 1956, the actor drove into a telephone pole on the way home from a dinner at Liz Taylor’s. His face was altered, and the plastic surgeon was unable to repair all of his facial muscles. The leading man feared he was finished.

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After the accident, Clift took on different types of roles and yet still maintained his career as an actor. His face had changed, yet he was still able to perform. In fact, he reached new heights.

The Film Collaborative

Putting his traumas behind him, Clift was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Judgement at Nuremberg. Many of these post-crash performances are his most celebrated. But he never fully recovered from the accident.

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Publicly, Clift still attended premieres with his close friend Liz Taylor. Yet, privately the crash had a dark toll on his life, which in part led to his demise.

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For the last ten years of his life, Clift struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol. He just couldn’t leave it behind. Various speculations exist about the cause of his demons, yet the most reasonable is the residual pain of the crash.

In 1966, Clift was found dead in his Manhattan apartment from a heart attack by his caretaker. The star left behind a strong legacy as a pioneer in Hollywood. His loved ones, particularly Taylor, made sure his artistic contributions were remembered. Granted, she wasn’t shy about sharing her own triumphs.

There’s a medical secret behind Liz Taylor’s entrancing gaze. She had a genetic mutation called distichiasis, which endowed her with a second row of eyelashes. It’s like Mother Nature’s own mascara!

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In 1985, Liz’s dear friend Rock Hudson became one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS. Rather than give in to grief, the actress tirelessly campaigned to raise awareness of the disease. She testified to Congress and established the American Foundation for AIDS Research.


Perhaps it wasn’t a huge surprise that Taylor became a huge Hollywood star, as her mother was an actress herself. Sara Sothern enjoyed a long stage career that included a number of Broadway appearances in the 1920s.

Raised as a Christian Scientist, Elizabeth converted to Judaism in 1959. She said that the decision was purely personal, in spite of Liz taking on two Jewish husbands. To prove her dedication, she took on the name Elisheba Rachel and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

The Daily Beast

Throughout her storied career, Liz appeared on the covers of over 1,000 magazines. She became a particular favorite for Life, which had her pose for the honor a record 14 times!

As a teenager, Taylor joined an epic film franchise when she landed a (human) part in Lassie Come Home. She could’ve been paid a little better, though. Her weekly pay was $100 while Lassie raked in $250.

Doing everything in excess, Taylor got married eight times! Her first husband was hotel heir Conrad Hilton. Hungry for all the publicity that the wedding would bring, movie executives at MGM paid for the entire ceremony.

Purple Clover

Taylor didn’t care much for the 1963 epic Cleopatra, but her record-breaking $1 million salary was nothing to complain about. She famously quipped, “If someone is dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I’m certainly not dumb enough to turn it down.”


The Flintstones wasn’t just Liz’s final theatrical film appearance; it was her biggest payday. She received a $2.5 million check for playing Pearl Slaghoople, Fred’s snooty mother-in-law.

In the 1956 classic Giant, Liz played the mother of actress Carroll Baker, in spite of the fact that Baker was a year older! Taylor had firsthand experience with unusual parent-child ages, however. Her real-life stepson from her third marriage was older than her too.


Liz made a point of being fashionably late everywhere, even to her own funeral. Unbeknownst to the throngs of mourners in 2011, her will stipulated that her hearse would arrive 15 minutes after everyone else.

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Although she won an Oscar for her performance, Liz wasn’t shy about hating on BUtterfield 8. She was contractually obligated to appear in the film, but made production as difficult as possible by refusing to speak aloud to director Daniel Mann.

Quad Cinema

Almost immediately after her good friend Debbie Reynolds finalized her divorce to Eddie Fisher, Taylor swooped and married him. Strangely enough, Liz and Debbie remained close, while Liz soon ditched Eddie and never spoke to him again. And you thought your personal life was complicated!

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As much as she represented a past age of Hollywood, Elizabeth still befriended more modern stars. Notably, she grew quite close with Michael Jackson. The King of Pop even asked her to be godmother to two of his children, Paris and Prince.

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The career of Hollywood rebel Montgomery Cliff took a serious nosedive after he was in a horrific car crash in 1956. However, he likely wouldn’t have survived if his friend Liz Taylor hadn’t rushed to the scene and stopped him from choking.

The Retro Set

Nobody knew how to publicize better than Liz Taylor. To promote a new perfume line in 1996, she made surprise appearances on four different CBS television shows with the product — all in the same night!

While Liz is best-known for her adult roles, she was a child star too. She appeared in the 1942 comedy There’s One Born Every Minute when she was just ten years old. Even so, the casting director didn’t approve of her, as he claimed she didn’t “have the face of a child.”

Perhaps it should be no surprise that this fashionable icon amassed one of the world’s most impressive private jewelry collections. When it hit the auction market in 2011, the whole shebang sold for $116 million.

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Liz’s most tempestuous relationship was with actor Richard Burton, whom she married and divorced twice. However, they channeled their passionate love/hate relationship onscreen, most famously in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Taylor won an Oscar for her frenzied performance.


Even when the cameras weren’t rolling, Burton and Taylor simmered with romantic drama. One photographer caught them on the set of The Assassination of Trotsky. Liz wasn’t in the cast; she just came to follow her untrustworthy husband around.

Eva Sereny

That sharp-eyed photographer was Eva Sereny. The famed artist (below) specialized in photos taken between takes and behind the scenes. Her work graced the covers of LIFE and Newsweek, but Eva also snapped tons of pictures that we’ve never glimpsed until now…

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1. Cybill Shepherd: Unfortunately, the musical comedy At Long Last Love fizzled out at the box office, but Eva perfectly captured Shepherd’s vulnerability. The actress also made headlines for dating the film’s director, Peter Bogdanovich.

Eva Sereny

2. Marlon Brando: This eccentric method actor had a reputation for being difficult with the press, but he actually welcomed the presence of Eva Sereny. This photo has Brando suavely adjusting his necktie on the set of Last Tango in Paris.

Eva Sereny

3. Meryl Streep: Eva’s photographic prowess earned her the chance to shoot the Sophie’s Choice actress inside an empty New York apartment. The artist felt she had trouble connecting with Streep at the time, but the quality of her work says otherwise.

Eva Sereny

4. Sean Connery and Claudia Cardinale: In between Bond flicks, Connery appeared in the adventure film The Red Tent. Eva snapped him goofing around on set between takes while his co-star Cardinale plays along.

Eva Sereny

5. Clint Eastwood: Away from the bustle of a Hollywood film set, Eva joined Eastwood for a quiet shoot near his home in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. After settling there, the actor/director became mayor of the town in 1986.

6. Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Harrison Ford: Archaeology is hard work! That’s why Eva snapped these key players taking a breather on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Eva Sereny

Eva’s work also has a knack for catching creatives right in the midst of their process. Here, she depicted the working bond between Capshaw and Spielberg, which took a turn a few years later. The two of them married in 1991!

7. Audrey Hepburn: Over the years, Eva forged a strong relationship with Steven Spielberg, who invited her behind the scenes of Always. This project was notable for providing Hepburn with her final film role before retirement.

Eva Sereny

8. Liza Minnelli: Acting in A Matter of Time, which would be her father Vincente Minnelli’s final directorial effort, Liza hauntingly stares past the camera. Eva might have captured some real-life anxiety here, as the studio forced Vincente off the project due to budget and scheduling concerns.

Eva Sereny

9. Luciano Pavarotti: Eva’s skill brought her face-to-face with all aspects of show business. She took the occasional break from movie sets to meet with music personalities, like famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti. He clearly had canines on his mind that afternoon.

Eva Sereny

10. Charlotte Rampling: One of Eva’s strongest professional friendships began when she met Rampling during the production of The Night Porter. A few years later, she caught the actress’ rebellious side as she enjoyed a smoke atop her Ford Thunderbird.

Eva Sereny

11. Al Pacino: Even though Eva politely approached the leading man on the set of Bobby Deerfield, he reacted with scorn. Pacino snapped, “That’s what you do, isn’t it?” before reluctantly agreeing to pose for a few photos.

Eva Sereny

12. Sigourney Weaver: Ahead of the premiere of Alien, Eva met with Ellen Ripley herself in Paris for a promotional shoot. Evoking the movie’s sci-fi aesthetic, she had Sigourney don a minimalist dress and pose around the futuristic Centre Pompidou museum.

Eva Sereny

13. Anthony Quinn: Though he was in his 70s when shooting The Greek Tycoon, Quinn playfully danced between takes. He enjoyed himself, but audiences positively despised this spin on the romance between Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy.

Eva Sereny

14. Mia Farrow and Robert Redford: These two acting legends shone as Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby in 1974’s The Great Gatsby. Eva was on set, and she didn’t just shoot film stills, either.

Eva Sereny

Eva also shot portraits in between takes to help the performers get in character. For example, this shot features Redford’s swagger shining through as he gets ready to enter the mind of the mysterious playboy.

Eva Sereny

15. Bianca Jagger: When she found some time between her acting and humanitarian projects, the then Mrs. Mick Jagger invited Eva to her home for a photo session. Inside, she snapped some “candid” shots of Bianca exploring her immaculate wardrobe.

Eva Sereny

16. Christopher Reeve: In contrast to his steely public image as Superman, Reeve wanted to show fans the more thoughtful, vulnerable side of him. Eva found that dimension of the actor with a series of him intently playing piano in his home.

Eva Sereny

17. Sydney Pollack and Robert Redford: This portrait has director and star of The Electric Horseman nervously wait for the crew to set up. Eva herself was already at the ready, with an arsenal of four cameras up and running.

Eva Sereny

18. Raquel Welch: When Eva first met this film icon during production of The Last of Sheila, Raquel tried to kick the photographer off the set. However, they later became friends, leading to Welch posing for many more photographs.

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19. Werner Herzog: Eva caught the famed director paging through his notes for Nosferatu the Vampyre. Impressively, he managed to cozy up in a hammock while reading some truly terrifying material.

Eva Sereny

20. Donald Sutherland and Federico Fellini: The photographer described the Italian director as an “artist who worked without brush or palette.” Fellini certainly got to show off his visual talents in this over-the-top retelling of Casanova.