Montgomery Clift grave
Brooklyn Friends Cemetery
Born in Omaha, Montgomery Clift (1920-1966) began his career as a stage actor, before becoming a leading film star of the late 1940s and 1950s. He starred in such now-classic movies as A Place in the Sun, Suddenly Last Summer (both with Elizabeth Taylor, who was unrequitedly in love with him), Red River, Judgment at Nuremberg, and From Here to Eternity.
But an automobile accident in 1956 nearly ended his career, and Clift underwent massive reconstructive surgery on his handsome face. In the middle of filming Raintree County, again with Taylor, Clift had to take months off before he was able to resume work on the film. Mentally and physically affected by his ordeal, Clift continued to make movies but more and more mourned his “disfigurement” through alcohol and drug abuse and died at the early age of 45 of a heart attack.
Clift’s homosexuality was well known in Hollywood, though he tried to keep it from becoming public knowledge for fear it would hurt his career. He had the reputation for being a loner, and most of his sexual encounters were one-night-stands with male hustlers. In 1949, he was arrested for trying to pick up a hustler on 42nd Street in Manhattan, but the incident was hushed up by his handlers. In the early ’50s, he seems to have had a quiet romance with the playwright Thornton Wilder, another gay man who prized “discretion” and suffered from internalized homophobia.
Clift’s primary residence was in Manhattan from 1951 until his death, first at 209 East Sixty-first Street (destroyed by fire in 1960), and then at the elegant three-story brownstone down the block at 217, a house with four bedrooms and six baths. After a funeral service at the Friends Meeting House, East 15th Street, he was buried at this Quaker cemetery in Brooklyn, and his grave was planted with crocuses by his friend, actress Nancy Walker.