Thursday, December 17, 2009

R.I.P. Jennifer Jones 1919-2009

The dowager widow of industrialist/art collector Norton Simon - Jennifer Jones has passed away in her Malibu home at age 90. She appeared on the Oscars a view years ago in their calvacade of winners sitting in bleachers. She won hers for playing French peasant Bernadette Soubirous who saw a vision of a beautiful lady in a grotto in 1858. The Lady called herself "The Immaculate Conception". Church officials were shaken since this doctrine (that Virgin Mary was also born without original sin like her son Jesus would be later) was only 4 years old and unknown to the illiterate, sickly child with minimal education. Officials harangued Bernadette to confess that she was lying about her visions - until her dying hour in a convent at age 35. They did not let up on the poor girl. Meanwhile the church could not stop the pilgrimages to Lourdes for the healing spring water.

Bernadette became a saint in 1933 and Jennifer Jones' film The Song of Bernadette was released in 1943.
Jennifer Jones was also married to Robert Walker and David O. Selznick. Her daughter with Selznick named Mary Jennifer jumped to her death from a Westwood CA building at age 22. Jennifer Jones became a great philanthropist to mental health charities.
Jennifer Jones had a lovely ethereal quality that made her mystical roles in The Song of Bernadette and Portrait of Jennie custom made for her. She showed her acting chops as a prim school teacher in the Capra-esque film Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955). Her final role was in A Towering Inferno.
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