December 18, 2009 in Nation/World

Actress Jennifer Jones, Oscar winner, dies at 90

Bob Thomas Associated Press
 

Jones in 1955
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – Jennifer Jones, the beautiful, raven-haired actress who was nominated for Academy Awards five times, winning in 1943 for her portrayal of a saintly nun in “The Song of Bernadette,” died Thursday. She was 90.

Jones, who in later years was a leader of the Norton Simon Museum, died at her home in Malibu of natural causes.

Jones was the widow of the museum’s founder, wealthy industrialist Norton Simon, and served as chair of the museum’s board of directors after his death.

Known for her intense performances, Jones was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the 1940s and ’50s.

Among her most memorable roles were the vixen who vamps rowdy cowboy Gregory Peck in “Duel in the Sun,” and the Eurasian doctor who falls for Korean War correspondent William Holden in “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.”

Early in her career, Jones had become nearly as famous for her high-profile marriages as for her movie work. She met actor Robert Walker when both studied acting in New York, and they married and came to Hollywood, where her stardom ascended more rapidly than his.

Jones’ boss, David O. Selznick, became obsessed with his star and spent much of his time promoting her career. They married four years after she divorced Walker in 1945.

Selznick died in 1965, and in 1973 Jones married Simon. After his death in 1993, she assumed the role leading the Pasadena-based museum.

She initiated the museum’s celebrated gallery renovation by architect Frank Gehry and spearheaded development of its public programming and outreach initiatives.

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