Deaths elsewhere

December 18, 2009|By The Washington Post

JENNIFER JONES, 90

Actress won Oscar for 'Song of Bernadette'

Jennifer Jones, an actress who won an Academy Award for playing a saint in "The Song of Bernadette" and became a popular sinner in Hollywood melodramas including "Duel in the Sun" and "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," died Thursday at her home in Malibu, Calif.

By most accounts, Ms. Jones' career faltered under the guidance of producer David O. Selznick, her second husband and one of the most powerful moguls in Hollywood. He tried to transform her into what film scholar David Thomson mockingly called "the greatest actress in the world," while eliminating her quirky charms that first captivated audiences.

Few actresses have launched their careers with more fanfare than Ms. Jones, who received a huge publicity buildup for her first major film, "The Song of Bernadette" (1943). She played a 19th-century French peasant girl who sees visions of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes and defies Catholic Church authorities who claim she is a fraud.

After "The Song of Bernadette," Ms. Jones played a charming home-front ingenue who faces wartime realities in "Since You Went Away" (1944) and a servant girl with a zest for plumbing in Ernst Lubitsch's "Cluny Brown" (1946).

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