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

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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...

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