Oscar History

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Twins: Montgomery & Ethel

While Gemini is ruling, we're celebrating twins: real, fictional, and other. Double the pleasure! If it's your birthday we'll celebrate both of you in the comments.

Did you know that legendary actor Montgomery Clift had a twin sister? That's him with his twin sister Roberta above. She was born first making Monty the youngest of the Clift's three children. Monty and the family called her "Ethel" which was their mother's name though there mother went by "Sunny". Confusing!

Monty and Ethel in 1933. They were thirteen years old.The kids had a strange upbringing, moving frequently both abroad and in the States and they were privately tutored and well bred as if they had far far more money than they did. Monty theorized without a ton of conviction that his drive toward acting may have had to do with competition with his sister (and older brother), neither of whom pursued acting. Both of his siblings were college educated while Monty never went to high school, beginning his professional acting career at 14 on stage.

In a 1957 profile in McCall's a friend of Monty's is quoted as saying:

He's almost in a state of amnesia about his childhood. He never speaks of it, and if he's asked questions he side-steps."

The Clift kids weren't Geminis but Libras but all twins are honorary Geminis and all Geminis are honorary twins if you ask us.

It's hard to find much info about Roberta/Ethel but she married in 1945 (Monty attended) at which point Monty was already a star on Broadway collecting fans also bound for immortal fame like Marlon Brando. The next year he filmed his first movie role Red River (released later in 1948). 

His life was short and tortured but his influential legacy as one of the original brooding mumbling male superstars is long.

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Reader Comments (10)

June 16th is mine, and I keep thinking about the good/bad twin performances by Sean Young in "A Kiss Before Dying."

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

It's kind of hard to recognize Monty on his childhood pics, probably because he looks so happy on these. The adult Monty Clift didn't seem to smile that much...

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Arguably the most beautiful man in movie history. Too bad he was so tortured by himself.

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

He looks like Tom Cruise to me except authentic and not crazy.

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

My late husband.

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I agree with forever1267 - he is so beautiful.

MrW, have you seen the pictures of him and Elisabeth Taylor goofing around? They are adorable! I saw them first here, Nathaniel had posted them some time ago.

I did not know that Monty had a twin sister. I do so too! Looking forward to still more interesting twin posts.

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIvonne

So is she still alive? What's the rest of the story?

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterles

Wait, so Monty made Red River in 1946? I had no idea. Wow, he really WAS the first method mumbly actor then. His looks in Red River through at least From Here To Eternity are heart stopping.

Ivonne - I dimly remember those photos of him and Liz, but they are exceptions, I believe. In general, the word of choice to describe him seems to be 'tortured'.

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

I'm a Gemini and Clift is my favorite actor! His twin sister is actually still alive and living in Texas.

May 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany
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