Edward Montgomery Clift was an American film and stage actor. The New York Times? obituary noted his portrayal of “moody, sensitive young men”. Clift received four Academy Award nominations during his career, three for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor.
Clift was born in Omaha, Nebraska, a son of William Brooks Clift ? a vice-president of Omaha National Bank – and his wife, the former Ethel Fogg. Clift had a fraternal twin sister, Roberta, and a brother, William Brooks Clift Jr, who had an illegitimate son with actress Kim Stanley. Montgomery Clift later resided in Jackson Heights, NY, until he got his break on Broadway.
The future actor’s mother, who was reportedly adopted at the age of one year, nicknamed “Sunny”, spent part of her life and her husband’s money seeking to establish the Southern lineage that reportedly had been revealed to her at age 18 by the physician who delivered her, Dr. Edward Montgomery, after whom she named her younger son. According to Clift biographer Patricia Bosworth, Ethel was the illegitimate daughter of Woodbury Blair and Maria Anderson, whose marriage had been annulled before her birth and subsequent adoption. This would make her a granddaughter of Montgomery Blair, Postmaster General under President Abraham Lincoln, and a great-granddaughter of Francis Preston Blair, a journalist and adviser to President Andrew Jackson, and Levi Woodbury, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. None of these relationships, however, has been proven and remain speculative in the absence of documentation.
As part of Sunny Clift’s lifelong preparation for acceptance by her reported biological family, she raised Clift and his siblings as if they were aristocrats. Home-schooled by their mother as well as by private tutors in the United States and Europe, in spite of their father’s fluctuating finances, they did not attend a regular school until they were in their teens. The adjustment was difficult, particularly for Montgomery. His performance as a student lagged behind that of his sister and brother.