Where Are they Now? Movie Star Gene Tierney Part 2

About the movie star Gene Tierney, history and biography of her movie career, mental breakdown, and life afterwards.


Headline--1994: GENE TIERNEY

On Feb. 28, 1952, she divorced Cassini for the second time. The following year she entered into a much-publicized relationship with Muslim Prince Ali Khan. Columnists have said the collapse of this affair was instrumental in bringing about her mental breakdown in 1954.

For six years off and on (1954-1960), Gene Tierney was under psychiatric care at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kans. By the time she returned to Hollywood, she was 39 and no longer in demand. Three times she planned a comeback, but twice she became ill and had to turn down the roles. Her last feature film was in 1965.

And Today: She is no longer the svelte, lambent-eyed beauty of her Hollywood years. It's not just a matter of the natural aging process; the allure has also been replaced, by a more open, warmer, albeit somewhat matronly appearance. She is, in her own words, a very changed woman. In her Hollywood days she was seeking a career. Now she seeks rest, relaxation, and family togetherness.

For over 16 years Gene has been living in Houston, Tex., with husband Howard Lee, who was formerly married to Hedy Lamarr. Lee, a millionaire oilman, married Tierney shortly after her release from Menninger. They enjoy traveling, entertaining, and working in the garden. And they are very involved with their six grandchildren (Tierney has 2, Lee 4). From time to time, Gene engages in fund-raising and charity campaigns.

Questioned about her life in an interview, Tierney stated simply, "I enjoy my retirement tremendously."

Tierney believes her breakdown was largely a product of emotional stress generated by her career. Since her marriage to Lee, she has never been readmitted to Menninger. She still has difficulty with stress and remains under a physician's care to control depression, which surfaces now and then. Recently she told an interviewer, "We have never been able to pinpoint exactly what triggers it. I think I have a basic weakness. It could have lain dormant had I lived a serene life. It wasn't the job itself that got me, but the emotional stress of my career."

Since she has been linked with some of the world's leading men--among them Jack Kennedy--the question of old romances comes up frequently. But in a 1977 interview she dismissed the subject easily, remarking, "I get so bored with old romances. When you've been happily married for 16 years, it seems like such old hat." Nonetheless, she makes sure to quell rumors that she might have married Kennedy. She says she dated Kennedy only 10 times, and that was long before he was in the public eye. Gene also minimizes her relationship with Ali Khan, emphasizing that she went out with him only for a year. She notes casually, "Anyone who went out with him made headlines."

The turbulence has gone out of Gene Tierney's life. But she plans to tell us more about it in a book on her fight with mental illness.

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