New Book Explores the Last Years and Death of the 1950s Actor
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 28, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — Sixty-five years ago, on May 12, 1956, Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor were in the midst of filming the MGM epic Raintree County. They were due to head off for location shooting when Taylor decided to throw a small dinner party at her home in Beverly Hills before the trip. In addition to Taylor and then-husband Michael Wilding, Rock Hudson, Phyllis Gates and Kevin McCarthy were joined by Montgomery Clift for a quiet evening at the secluded home. At about 12:30 am the party began to break up and Montgomery Clift headed home, following actor Kevin McCarthy down the winding roads in the hills above Hollywood.
The night would forever alter the life of Montgomery Clift when he blacked out behind the wheel and drove off the road. Clift’s car cascaded off the side of the road, over an embankment and became wrapped around a telephone pole. He was found crumpled up under the dashboard, bloody and nearly dead.
Now, a new book from Aplomb Publishing and author John William Law details the fateful night and the impact it had on Clift’s life as well as the filming of Raintree County. The Longest Suicide in Hollywood – The Death of Montgomery Clift will be published in print and ebook on July 23, 2021, on the 55th anniversary of Montgomery Clift’s death in 1966 (Pre-orders for the book begin May 12, 2021).
With details from those who were there that night and the months it took for the actor to recover, The Longest Suicide in Hollywood chronicles the years of drug and alcohol abuse and the toll it took on Clift’s mind and body. “It was called the longest suicide in Hollywood by his acting teacher, Robert Lewis,” explains Law. “That statement became the germ behind the idea for the book, but I wanted to delve deeper into Clift’s career as well as his personal life during this period to look at the actor from a different angle than traditional biographies.”
The book takes readers back to the 1950s and behind the filming of MGM’s Raintree County – a film the studio hoped would be its next Gone With The Wind. “It didn’t turn out that way for many reasons, but one factor was the crash and the months that production shut down while Clift recovered. Initially they weren’t sure he’d ever finish the film and after his return he was still not quite healed,” says Law. “With his jaw wired shut and suffering nerve damage to the right side of his face, they were forced to film him from a distance or on his left side – and dialogue was impossible until his jaw healed. In fact, it’s been said that one of the only reasons people went to see the film was to see if they could spot scenes Clift filmed before the crash and those he filmed after.”
The Longest Suicide in Hollywood not only details the filming and release of the troubled Raintree County, but delves into the work Clift created during the last ten years of his life and the troubles he encountered on and off the set. As we watch Clift struggle and decline the book reaches into his last days and ultimately his death. “His final film The Defector was a last-ditch chance to prove he could still work, but the film leaves a tragic legacy,” says Law. “The movie was intended to show producers he was ready to work in his next big Hollywood film, which was intended to be Reflections in a Golden Eye, once again co-starring his friend Elizbeth Taylor. However, Clift would die before the filming began and The Defector would be released after his death. Reflections in a Golden Eye would instead star Clift’s old friend Marlon Brando.”
The Longest Suicide in Hollywood – The Death of Montgomery Clift includes rare stories and photographs and is available for pre-order now. In addition to the print copy, the book will be released in ebook format as well as an enhanced digital edition exclusively on iTunes iBookstore.
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