A&E Biography about life and times of the beautiful actress of the 40's and feature interview of her ex-husband, her second daughter and her co-star.



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Episode credited cast:
Jeanine Basinger ...
Herself - Film Historian
Pat Byrne ...
Herself - Sister
Christina Cassini ...
Herself - Daughter
Himself - Former Husband
Himself - Host
David Raksin ...
Himself - Composer 'Laura'
Kay Adell Stork ...
Herself - Stand-In
Herself (archive footage)
Himself - Actor


A&E Biography about life and times of the beautiful actress of the 40's and feature interview of her ex-husband, her second daughter and her co-star.

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Release Date:

26 March 1999 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Gene Eliza Tierney: "Life Is Not a Movie"
20 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Well, the first reviewer certainly captures the essence of this episode, which focuses a great deal upon many negative aspects working against this lovely star, who delivers many fine performances throughout her career at 20th Century Fox Studios, so I'll just fill in a few additional details....

Peter Graves narrates this account of the life and career of actress Gene Tierney, from her 1920 birth, in Brooklyn, New York, through her career on stage and in film, and the many obstacles which challenge her well-being along the way.

After attending Saint Margaret's School in Waterbury, Connecticut, and Unquowa School in Bridgeport, Gene attends Brillantmont Finishing School in Lausanne, Switzerland, learning French. She returns to the States to complete her education at Miss Porter's School and has her débutante coming out party in 1938.

Gene decides upon an acting career and travels to Hollywood to test for Warner Bros. Studios, but her family declines Warner's offer, and so she studies theatre and appears on Broadway, receiving favorable reviews in "Mrs. O' Brien Entertains," especially for her graceful beauty.

Howard, Sr. assists his daughter in establishing her film acting contract with Columbia Studios, but she would have no roles with them other than as an unrequited object of Howard Hughes' attentions. She returns to Broadway for "The Male Animal" (1940), which Darryl F. Zanuck attends and signs her to a contract with 20th.

Gene soon marries Costume Designer Oleg Cassini, in 1941, and stars throughout the 1940's opposite many headlining stars of the day. During a break in her marriage, Gene shares a romance with John F. Kennedy, who curtails things, as he chooses instead to run for the U.S. House of Representatives, and later the Senate, with designs on the Presidency, because involvement with any married actress may prove a political liability.

But while Gene's star rises, her emotional well-being becomes threatened by depression and disorientation, reportedly stemming from the handicaps of newborn daughter Daria, in 1943, after which Gene undergoes a series of 27 shock treatments at two institutions, climaxing with a 1957 climb onto the ledge of the 14th floor of her apartment building, after which she is admitted to Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, to begin her recovery process.

After leaving Oleg, Gene remains in Topeka and accepts a position as a sales clerk in a dress shoppe, dealing with customers and the press alike, amid much-publicized newspaper items regarding her downward spiral, which Gene openly discusses at the time, as well as in her 1979 autobiography, "Self-Portrait," a title reminiscent of her film "Laura," which also reflects the sub-title of this episode.

Gene marries again, sharing some twenty years of happiness with W. Howard Lee, as they establish residence in Houston, Texas, where Gene is said to enjoy a quiet life around family and friends, making a few films during the 1960's and also television appearances along the way, until losing Howard, in 1981.

(To avoid confusion, Gene's father and brother are named Howard, her second husband also Howard, and then there's Howard Hughes, who fails to win Gene, but assists her with some of Daria's medical expenses after the fact becomes known that a Marine Corps servicewoman had spread Rubella infection to Gene's unborn child while Gene was serving at the Hollywood Canteen, in 1943.)

Gene's marriages are with Oleg Cassini (1941–52) and W. Howard Lee (1960–81). Gene and Oleg welcome daughters, Daria and Christina.

Interview Guests for this episode consist of Pat Byrne (Sister), Christina Cassini (Daughter), Kay Adell Stork (Stand-In), Jeanine Basinger (Wesleyan University Cinema Archives Director), Oleg Cassini (former Husband), David Raksin (Composer: "Laura"), and Richard Widmark (Actor), with Peter Graves (Host and Narrator).

Still Photographs include Gene Tierney (Self), Belle Taylor Tierney (Mother), Howard Tierney, Sr. (Father), Patricia Tierney (Sister), Howard Tierney, Jr. (Brother), Howard Hughes (Producer), Darryl F. Zanuck (Studio Chief), Daria Cassini (Daughter), Christina Cassini (Daughter), W. Howard Lee (Husband), and Otto Preminger (Director).

Archive film footage includes Gene Tierney, Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Cornel Wilde, Tyrone Power, Richard Widmark, Prince Ali Khan, Humphrey Bogart, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley, and Brian Keith, as well as various unidentified co-stars.

Film Clips include a screen glimpse of Gene Tierney in scenes from The Return of Frank James (1940), Laura (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), The Razor's Edge (1946), Night and the City (1950), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), Way of a Gaucho (1952), The Egyptian (1954), The Left Hand of God (1955), Advise & Consent (1962), and The Pleasure Seekers (1964), as well as footage from several home movies.

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