Autograph Letter Signed Lot - 1950
A huge, rare and wonderful Montgomery Clift lot from a former president of the Montgomery Clift Fan Club in New York, featuring a personal Autograph Letter Signed by Clift; the letter’s envelope (postmarked May 1950) which has been signed by Clift on the back; a signed 5″ x 7″ studio photo (not secretarial); a telegram from Clift’s agent inviting the fan club president to Monty’s hotel for an interview; a fan newsletter “Bulletin” on Clift’s personal stationery with a preprinted signature, containing the juicy type of personal insights into the movie star’s life that his adoring fans would savor. These choice pieces accompany a large eight pound scrapbook album packed with press clippings from magazines and newspapers, event tickets and other memorabilia dating from 1949 to 1966, the last year of Monty’s life. All in all a marvelous homage to one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors during the 1950s and early 60s, when American films were hugely popular and movie stars were glamorized quite unlike today’s celebrity culture.
The letter and envelope are in fine condition, as are the other unsigned items. The signed photo has minor corner-mounting residue stains, and a small surface chip on the upper right border, none affecting Clift’s image or signature and all of which can easily be matted out or repaired.
MONTGOMERY CLIFT (1920-1966) was an American film actor. He was known for brooding, sensitive, working-class character roles, and received four Academy Award nominations during his career. Appearing on Broadway at the age of thirteen, Clift achieved success on the stage and starred there for ten years before moving to Hollywood, debuting in 1948’s Red River opposite John Wayne.
Clift was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in the same year for The Search. His sensitive and intense quality gave him an image as the kind of a person to be taken care of. His love scenes with Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun (1951) represented a new standard for romance in cinema. His roles in A Place in the Sun, the 1953 classic From Here to Eternity and The Young Lions (1958) were career milestones.
Clift and Marlon Brando, who was also born in Omaha, had reputations as Hollywood rivals because of their rapid rise to stardom and similar acting styles. Clift was one of James Dean’s idols and he would sometimes call him “just to hear his voice.”
Clift reportedly turned down the starring roles in Sunset Boulevard and East of Eden . At one point he was receiving so many offers of roles that scripts literally filled up his home. Friends had to squeeze past stacks of them in order to walk up the stairs.
On May 12, 1956, while filming Raintree County , he smashed his car into a telephone pole after leaving a party at the home of his Raintree County co-star Elizabeth Taylor and her then-husband Michael Wilding. Alerted by friend Kevin McCarthy, who witnessed the accident, Taylor raced to Clift’s side and kept him from choking to death by removing two of his teeth, which had become lodged in his throat. Clift suffered spinal damage. Most of the injuries on his face were apparently below the skin; doctors elected not to do plastic surgery. In a filmed interview, he later described how his nose could be snapped back into place. After a long recovery, he returned to the set to finish the film. Against the movie studio’s worries over profits, Clift rightly predicted the film would do well, if only because moviegoers would flock to see the difference in his facial appearance before and after the accident. The pain of the accident led him to rely on alcohol and pills for relief, as he had done after an earlier bout with dysentery (thanks to a film shot in Mexico) left him with chronic intestinal problems. As a result, Clift’s health and looks deteriorated considerably. Taylor and Clift remained close friends until his death.
On Monday, July 22, 1966, Clift spent most of the day in his bedroom in his New York City townhouse. He and his live-in personal secretary, Lorenzo James, had not spoken much all day. At 1 a.m., Lorenzo went up to say goodnight. The Misfits was airing on TV that night, and Lorenzo asked Clift if he wanted to watch it. “Absolutely NOT!” was the reply. Those were his last words to anyone. At 6 a.m. the next morning, Lorenzo went to wake him, but found the bedroom door locked. Unable to break it down, he ran down to the garden and climbed a ladder to the bedroom window. When he got inside, he found Clift dead. He was undressed, lying on his back in bed, with glasses on and fists clenched. He was 45 years old.