Jennifer Jones, actress wife of Norton Simon Museum founder, dies
Posted: 12/17/2009 10:23:00 AM PST
PASADENA - Jennifer Jones, arts patron, Academy Award-winning actress, and widow of Norton Simon, the industrialist and founder of Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum, died today. She was 90.
In a statement, the trustees and staff of the Norton Simon Museum acknowledged a "deep sense of loss" with Simon's death. Simon served as chair of the Norton Simon Museum from 1989 and became chair emeritus in 2003.
"Jennifer Jones Simon enjoyed an illustrious film career," Norton Simon Museum President Walter W. Timoshuk said in a statement. "Another important legacy is her leadership role in the Norton Simon Museum, where she initiated the Museum's celebrated gallery renovation by architect Frank Gehry and spearheaded the development of the Museum's public programming and outreach initiatives."
Jennifer Jones Simon, née Phylis Lee Isley, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 2, 1919. She studied drama and speech at the Benedictine school, Monte Cassino Junior College, then spent a year as a drama student at Northwestern University.
She then attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where she met her first husband, Robert Hudson Walker, who later starred in such films as One Touch of Venus, Strangers on a Train, and My Son John. They married in 1939 and had two sons, Robert Walker and the late Michael Walker. They divorced in 1945.
In the early 1940s, Jennifer Jones came to Hollywood where her screen test for David O. Selznick - the legendary producer of "Gone with the Wind," "Rebecca" and others - resulted in a film contract. Jones married Selznick in 1949 and the couple had one child, the late Mary Jennifer Selznick.
For her first major movie role, Jones received the 1944 Academy Award for best actress in "The Song of Bernadette."
She went on to star in many other films, including "Duel in the Sun," 1946; "Beat the Devil," 1953; and "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," 1955. Her final film appearance was a 1974 cameo role in "The Towering Inferno."
Several years after David O. Selznick's death in 1965, Several years after David O. Selznick's death in 1965, Jennifer Jones met California industrialist and celebrated art collector Norton W. Simon. After a four-week romance, they married on May 30, 1971. After Norton Simon's death in 1993, Mrs. Simon became involved with the operations of the Norton Simon Museum and, as Chairman of the Board, worked with other Trustees to increase the Museum's programming and public outreach. Most notably, Simon collaborated with renowned architect Frank O. Gehry on the renovation of the museum's galleries, which was completed in 1999.
Simon is survived by her son, Robert Walker, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions can be made to the Norton Simon Museum or the Hereditary Disease Foundation
JONES, Jennifer (Phylis Lee Isley)
Born: 3/2/1919, Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
Died: 12/17/2009, Malibu, California, U.S.A.
Jennifer Jones - westerns - actress:
New Frontier - 1939 (Celia Braddok)
Duel in the Sun - 1946 (Perla Chavez)