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Oscar-Winning Actress Jennifer Jones


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Oscar-Winning Actress Jennifer Jones

by Claudia Luther


Actress Jennifer Jones

LOS ANGELES, California. -- Jennifer Jones, the actress who won an Academy Award for her luminous performance in the 1943 film. "The Song of Bernadette" and who was married to two legendary men -- Producer David O. Selznick and Industrialist and Art collector Norton Simon -- died Thursday, December 17 of natural causes at her home in Malibu. She was 90.

Her death was reported by Leslie C. Denk, a spokeswoman for The Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena, California. Jones oversaw the museum following Simon's death in 1993, but she was best known for her movie career. In all, she starred in more than two dozen films, playing opposite such A-list actors as William Holden, Joseph Cotten and Gregory Peck.

In addition to her best-actress win for "The Song of Bernadette," Jones was nominated for an Academy Award for leading roles in three other films, "Love Letters" "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" and "Since You Went Away." "Love Letters" (1945), a soaper in which an amnesiac is cured through the love of a man, played by Cotten; the western epic "Duel in the Sun" (1946), with Peck;

and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" (1955), in which she played Dr. Han Suyin opposite Holden. She also was nominated as best supporting actress for "Since You Went Away" (1944), in which she starred with her first husband, Robert Walker.

The tall, sensitive Jones might never have risen to stardom but for Selznick, who was the first to see something special in the beautiful "big-eyed girl" who showed up in his New York office to test -- although not very well -- for the part of Claudia in the 1943 film of the same name. (Dorothy McGuire won the role.) After seeing her second test, he decided she was "the best sure-fire female star to come along since Leigh and Bergman" --referring to Vivien Leigh and Ingrid Bergman, both then under contract to the producer.

He found the young actress a new name and began grooming her for stardom, finding Jones her first big role in "Bernadette" and, afterward, producing or choosing most of her films. He endlessly pestered Hollywood with his memos about her makeup, her camera angles, her costumes. She was his prot

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