Few actors made as deep as an impact with as short of a career as Montgomery Clift, who started strong only to see misfortune derail his time in Hollywood. Clift’s second film, the Fred Zinnemann-directed The Search, beat his first, Howard Hawks’ Red River to theaters, but the appearance of both in 1948 announced the arrival of a major talent. Clift won an Academy Award nomination for his work in The Search, whose screenplay, also nominated, he reportedly helped rewrite. From there, he had parts in classics like A Place In The Sun, I Confess, Terminal Station, and From Here To Eternity. Clift had a serious car accident while shooting Raintree County in 1956, an event that left him scarred and troubled by substance abuse for the rest of his life. He kept working, but at a slower pace, appearing in just eight more films until his 1966 death at the age of 45.
Clift left behind a rich legacy, however, bringing an effortless, unaffected presence to the screen years before Marlon Brando made his film debut. It wasn’t all seclusion and mystique for Clift after the accident, however. In 1963 he made an appearance on the game show What’s My Line? promoting the John Huston film Freud: The Secret Passion: