Jennifer Jones (Phylis Lee Isley)

Jennifer Jones

Jennifer Jones

Best known for her performance in “A Song for Bernadette,” for which she won the Academy Award in 1944. She was born Phyllis Lee Isley, the only child of Phillip and Flora Mae Isley, owners and stars of a theatrical stock company. Her family traveled the country performing plays under a tent. Phyllis was enamored by performing; she made her debut at age five as a candy cane in her parent’s show. Her father became a success purchasing bankrupt theaters. With her father’s success, Phyllis was able to enroll at Monte Casino Junior College, where she began performing in plays. After graduating High School she attended Northwestern University before moving on to the prestigious Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan. There she met actor Robert Walker, the two became inseparable, Phyllis departed the school when Walker did, they moved on to performing in local theater. Walker and Isley became local celebrities on her father’s Tulsa radio show; they married in January, 1939. They moved to Hollywood, Phyllis was offered a six month, seventy-five dollar a week contract from Republic Pictures. She made her film debut opposite John Wayne, in “Frontier Horizon.” She made a few low budget films, but desired better roles, the Walkers moved to New York to try Broadway. Her career was halted when she discovered she was pregnant, on April 15, 1940, Robert Walker Jr. was born. Less than a year later son Michael joined the family. Robert went to work on the radio for CBS. Her career would be forever changed when she met producer David O. Selznick. She auditioned for her dream role in “Claudia.” He offered her an exclusive seven-year contract and changed her name to Jennifer Jones. She lost the part in “Claudia,” but was cast instead in “The Song of Bernadette.” The film was a box-office hit. Her career took off, as did her husband Robert Walkers’, but their marriage was in ruins, and Jennifer began a relationship with Selznick. Selznick cast the unhappy couple in “Since You Went Away,” in 1944, after which Jennifer ended their five-year marriage, ironically after sharing their first onscreen kiss. On March 2, 1944 she was awarded the Academy Award for best actress. She filed divorce the following day. In 1945, Jennifer was cast in the Technicolor epic “Duel in the Sun,” opposite Gregory Peck. The role was a chance to create a new more sensual look from her previous wholesome films. In 1946, She received a third Academy Award nomination for “Love Letters.” Her next major film was “The Portrait of Jennie,” which unfortunately failed at the box office. Selznick liquidated his studio, but married Jennifer on July 13, 1949 in Italy. Her career was at a stand-still and the couple made films in Europe as well as the United States. In 1950 she starred in director William Wyler’s “Carrie.” She became pregnant during the filming, but suffered a miscarriage. She spent more time with her sons following the death of her first husband Robert Walker in 1951. On August 12, 1954 Mary Jennifer Selznick was born, following her daughter’s birth she moved to Twentieth Century Fox, where her first film was “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing,” as a Eurasian doctor. Her next film, “Good Morning, Miss Dove,” had her age thirty years on screen. “The Man in the Gray-flannel Suit,” was her third success in a row. She continued to work in the 1950s, her and Selznick made Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms,” opposite Rock Hudson. The film failed to succeed, and her poor reviews sent her to the Actor’s Studio to help her acting. She took a four year break before she appeared in “Tender is the Night.” She suffered a tragedy when her husband David O. Selznick died on June 22, 1965. She married millionaire Norton Simon in 1971. Jennifer Jones made her final film “The Towering Inferno,” in 1974. Her daughter committed suicide in 1976. Norton Simon died in 1993, and Jennifer Jones devoted the rest of her life to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California as well as charitable causes. Jennifer Jones died at her Malibu home at age 90.


  • March, 02, 1919
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma


  • December, 17, 2009
  • Malibu, California

Cause of Death

  • Natural Causes



    • Cremated

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