Montgomery Clift was born Edward Montgomery Clift on October 17, 1920 in Omaha Nebraska. His father, William Brooks Clift, was a banker, whom Montgomery later described a drunk and a bigot that he did not get along with. His mother was Ethel Anderson Fogg Blair. He had two siblings: a sister named Roberta and a brother named Brooks.
Montgomery started his acting career early, and was in Broadway productions by the time he was thirteen. His performances were critically acclaimed and popular with audiences, allowing him to continue stage acting for the next ten years. The massive amounts of experience that he gained from the stage made him a natural candidate for Hollywood.
In 1948, Montgomery starred in his first film, "Red River", with John Wayne. This start led to more film roles, including 1948's "The Search", which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. In the film, he portrays an American soldier in post-WW2 Berlin that tries to help a Czechoslovakian boy find his lost mother.
In 1951, Montgomery starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor in "A Place in the Sun". This film contains one of his most famous performances as a young man who is given a job by his wealthy relatives. When he begins work in a low level position, he meets a female factory worker and they enter a relationship. However, once he is promoted to a white collar position, he falls for one of the upper class women, played by Elizabeth Taylor, and tries to ditch his old girlfriend. However, she turns out to be pregnant and threatens to reveal that fact unless he comes back to her.
In 1953, he starred alongside Burt Lancaster in "From Here to Eternity". The film focused on the lives of a group of soldiers before and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In the film, Montgomery plays a soldier stationed at Pearl Harbor.
In 1956, tragedy struck while he was filming "Raintree County". After leaving a party hosted by his costar, Elizabeth Taylor, he crashed his vehicle into a telephone pole. His friend Kevin McCarthy saw the accident and told Taylor, who rushed out to the car and removed two broken teeth that had lodged in his throat and were choking him. The accident caused tremendous damage to Montgomery's face and required considerable amounts of facial reconstruction. However, it was still apparent that his face was different when he resumed filming a few weeks later. The accident also caused him to become addicted to alcohol and pain relievers.
In 1958, he starred in "The Young Lions" with Marlon Brando. The two actors were reportedly rivals and they were often referred to as the "Golddust Twins", due to their quick rise in popularity. In the film, Montgomery plays an American soldier who is sent to Europe to fight the Nazi Army, of which Marlon Brando's character is a member. The film was a large success and took a look at the motivations and beliefs of soldiers from both sides of World War 2.
In 1960, Montgomery starred alongside Lee Remick in "Wild River". In 1961, he starred alongside Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe in "The Misfits". That year he also starred in "Judgement at Nuremberg" and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for a role that only had seven minutes of screen time. The director later claimed that Montgomery was often drunk on set and kept forgetting his lines. To solve the problem he told him to ad lib it, which he did and pulled off a good performance.
In 1962, he starred in "Freud", but was frequently absent from the set due to his alcoholism. Universal Studios sued him for causing the film to go over budget, but the film did well in theaters and the matter was resolved. In the film, he portrays Sigmund Freud, the famous psychologist, living in Vienna at the end of the 19th century.
Montgomery Clift died on July 23, 1966 from complications of his alcoholism and addiction to painkillers. He was only 45 years old at the time of his death and he was buried in Brooklyn, New York. Following his death, many believed that he could have been one of the best actors in history if he had been less selective in his roles and not become addicted to alcohol and painkillers. He was reportedly offered the lead roles in "East of Eden" and "Sunset Boulevard", among other important films, but turned them down.
During his life, he never married and his mother told writers that he was homosexual since he was a teenager. Close friends reported that he slept with both men and women in order to experiment and find himself. His friends also said that, towards the end of his life, he was impotent and unable to perform anyways due to his chemical addictions.