Jean Simmons: Portrait of a Complicated Lady

From early fame as a thorny English rose, Jean Simmons moved to Hollywood, where her star waned slowly but her talent never died


English actress Jean Simmons died on Jan. 27, 2010, at her home in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 80

"I think she's very pretty," says poor young Pip of the slightly older Estella. "I think she's very proud." Extraordinarily pretty and proudly defiant: that was the indelible first impression the 17-year-old Jean Simmons made on moviegoers in David Lean's Great Expectations in 1946, at the beginning of a long, full career that lasted from her early teens to her death on Jan. 22 at 80, in Santa Monica, Calif., of lung cancer. The actress's screen impact in her early flush of stardom could also be defined by another pair of clashing adjectives that a British distributor slapped onto She Couldn't...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!