Montgomery Clift

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Montgomery Clift, actor (1920 Omaha, Nebraska - 1966 New York City, New York)

This article should be cited as:
"Montgomery Clift", by Will Johnson, professional genealogist wjhonson@aol.com, at CountyHistorian.com URL: http://www.countyhistorian.com/cecilweb/index.php/Montgomery_Clift, copyright 2007-8, all rights reserved.

This page is locked, it is an old version of my article. To see my latest version please visit "Montgomery Clift" by Will Johnson on Knol. I am available for hire to assist you to trace your family or create a biography of you or your relative. I charge $25 per hour.

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Contents

Edward Montgomery Clift

Early life

Montgomery Clift was born 17 Oct 1920, several hours after his twin sister Roberta Ethel "Sister", in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska — the son of William Brooks "Bill" Clift and his wife Ethel "Sunny" Blair. Montgomery's father was at that time the vice-president of Omaha National Bank. William and Ethel also had one other child, an older son Brooks Clift born 18 months earlier.

A note about names. Montgomery's mother, always called "Sunny" by her relations, was adopted at birth. Her reported father was a Blair, and her reported mother an Anderson, her adoptive family were Foggs. The curious circumstances of her birth (explained under her own entry below) explain the confusion in various sources regarding what to call her. Her nick-name "Sunny" is supposed to be for her disposition and voice. As for Montgomery's sister, Montgomery always called his twin "Sister". She is called Ethel in her father's obituary. Most mentions of her in biographies, probably following the lead of Patricia Bosworth call her Roberta. But Bosworth only uses this name at her birth, later calling her Ethel as she was apparently later known. In the Ships Lists extracted below, she is called Roberta, but in the Texas Birth Index for her children, she as mother, is called Ethel. Her name *might* have been Roberta Ethel or Ethel Roberta, I'm just not yet sure. Their brother was named William Brooks Montgomery, Jr but he is most often simply called Brooks.

Montgomery and his two siblings were educated at home by his mother and private tutors. Sunny, reportedly told, at the age of 18, that she had aristocratic bloodlines, decided to raise and educate her children in a peculiar fashion. They had private tutors and a live-in nurse. Sunny was reportedly told that her own mother, who never corresponded with her, had died in 1925, so at that time she re-doubled her efforts and enlisted the help of her husband to contact her natural family. She made contact with her aunt Sophie in 1926 who, according to Sunny, told her that she had to take her children to Europe to live for a while. They spent quite a lot of time in Europe as Sunny was told that this was the way "throughbred" children were raised, as she called them. She tried to instill the idea in her children that they were of-a-higher-class and must not mix with the common people. She would often tell Monty that a certain friend was common, not of his class, of no background. Several people having met Montgomery and the family during this period, came away with the impression that he was quite a snob, as was his mother.

Brooks later told another biographer that this story, that Sophie told them to go to Europe, was just an excuse by his mother, so she could keep traveling, and that his father would do anything to please her. (see Montgomery Clift: A Biography, by Michelangelo Capua) Montgomery's father did not accompany them on these trips to Europe and possibly the impression might be raised that he was detached. But his letters as Patricia Bosworth points-out use phrases like "I miss you terribly when you're away, but mother knows best."

Career

Overview

His article at the Encyclopedia Britannica Online states : "American motion-picture actor noted for the emotional depth and sense of vulnerability he brought to his roles. Along with Marlon Brando and James Dean, he helped delineate a new paradigm for American cinematic heroes."

Background

The Great Depression had hit the Clift family. Their investments worth nothing, their antiques were auctioned off and they moved from their great house in Highland Park, Illinois, to a small apartment on West Ninth Street in the Village in New York City. Sunny took jobs, as a secretary and as a cleaning lady to make ends meet. At this point, Bill became an insurance-policy salesman.

Meanwhile, Sunny's restless foot, made her take the children, alongwith their now-tutor Walter Hayward and go rent a house in Sarasota, Florida for the winter of 1932. Hayward, knew a man who needed a 12-year-old boy for a part in a local production. This is how in March 1933, in Sarasota, Monty made his stage debut in a local theater production of As Husbands Go. On their return to New York, his mother, realizing his potential, took him around to agents, auditions and modeling gigs. He a bit later began appearing regularly on Broadway. His first appearance, at age 13 in Fly Away Home. He would appear on Broadway for about ten years before his first Hollywood films.

On 27 Jan 1935, an article in the New York Times (page X2) by Theron Bamberger about the actors in this play Fly Away Home mentions Clift prominently. For my purposes now, it gives a few datapoints. The family in 1934 was living in Sharon, Connecticut. The father "William Brooks Clift, well known in Wall Street, where he formerly was a broker, and is now the president of an insurance company." Monty he says "was both handsome and intelligent. He had lived a good part of his life abroad, spoke two European languages fluently and was exceptionally bright....the boy has a natural histrionic instinct which, if he wants to stick to the theatre should take him far."

His Encyclopedia Britannica Online article states of this period: "From 1934 to 1945 he performed regularly on and off Broadway, appearing in such notable plays as Robert Sherwood’s There Shall Be No Night (1940), Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), and Lillian Hellman’s The Searching Wind (1944)."

After several favorable reviews, Hollywood wanted him, but he rejected many offers looking for just the right vehicle. This would be a constant theme in Clift's career — that he refused to perform in "trashy" productions, which to his mind, were most of them, only seeking the very best which he thought could show his talent and range without typecasting him.

Films 1946-1950

His first film work actually started shooting in 1946. This was Red River with John Wayne, but due to a delay in the release, this film became his second film released. His first being The Search, playing American G.I. Ralph Stevenson in just-post-WWII Germany, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award in the category "Best Actor in a Leading Role". In The Search Monty finds a young boy, orphaned by WWII and and adopts him, albeit temporarily as the film ends by the boy being re-united with his mother, discovered alive, who had similarly thought her son dead. Bosley Crowther reviewed The Search for the New York Times 24 Mar 1948 and about Monty' performance stated that he : "gets precisely the right combination of intensity and casualness into the role...." (Buy it in DVD.)

Red River, finally released later that same year, "... is considered by many to be one of the best westerns ever made", opines his EB entry. He plays a sensitive cowboy who challenges his adoptive father the rough, hardened, rancher John Wayne. (Buy it in VHS or DVD.)

Monty starred as Morris Townsend the possibly-scheming suitor, opposite the heiress Olivia de Havilland as Katherine Sloper in 1949's The Heiress. (Buy it in VHS, or DVD.) In 1950 he, as Danny MacCullough starred in the film The Big Lift, about two Air Force sergeants who fall in love with two women in Berlin during the Berlin Air Life. (Buy it in VHS, or DVD.)

Films 1951-1956

He appeared as "George Eastman" opposite Elizabeth Taylor as "Ann Vickers" and Shelley Winters in 1951's A Place in the Sun. Based on a true story, in the film Shelley Winters is his pregnant working-class girlfriend, when he meets the glamourous socialite Elizabeth Taylor and falls for her. Shelley is disposed of by a "tragic accident" when the two of them are out together and she falls overboard and drowns. He is later convicted of her murder. (Read a bit about the true story here, and even more here.) For his work in A Place in the Sun, Monty was again nominated for "Best Actor in a Leading Role". (Buy it in VHS, or DVD, watch a Seven Minute Interview with Liz.)

Monty later appeared opposite Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, in arguably his most memorable role in 1953's From Here to Eternity as Private Robert E Lee Prewitt, and for this work, he was again nominated for "Best Actor in a Leading Role". Prewitt is a complex and tormented soldier who endures ridicule and harassment to stay true to his moral principles. He refuses to join the boxing team, because he had once blinded a man with whom he was boxing. When his friend played by Dean Martin is beaten to death by an officer played by Ernest Borgnine, Prewitt hunts the officer down and kills him in an alley. Prewitt goes AWOL, but then is shot by a sentry when he attempts to return to camp. (Buy it VHS, or DVD.)

His work in these last two films, is considered by some to be the peak of his career, although he continued working until his 1966 death, which subsequently, combined with his drinking and drug abuse, has been called the "longest suicide in Hollywood history."

Also in 1953, he starred in Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess, about a Catholic priest who won't break the sanctity of the confessional even if it means risking his own life. (Buy it VHS, download or DVD.) And he also that year starred in the rather-bad film Terminal Station also called Indiscretion of an American Wife, opposite Jennifer Jones the then-wife of producer David O. Selznick. The film is about an Italian man who falls in love with an American woman. (Buy it VHS.)

Accident

In 1956, Monty was working opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Eva Marie Saint, the three stars of the film Raintree County, which would be released late the next year on 20 Dec 1957. In this film he plays John Wickliff Shawnessy, a man who drifts away from his high school sweetheart Nell Gaither, played by Eva Marie Saint and enters into a passionate, but loveless, marriage with Susanna Drake (Elizabeth Taylor) a wealthy New Orleans belle. He later discovers that Susanna's mother died in a lunatic asylum and that she has inherited the family curse. He leaves home to fight in the Civil War, and reflects on his life. (Buy it VHS, Book, or DVD.)

On 12 May 1956 during the filming Montgomery had a serious car accident which permanently damaged his looks. He had been at a party thrown by Elizabeth Taylor and her second husband Michael Wilding, at their home in the hills of Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills. Also at the party was Rock Hudson and his wife Phyllis Gates (who had been married the past November), and Monty's close friend, fellow-actor Kevin McCarthy. Upon leaving, Monty in his car, ask Kevin McCarthy to drive in front of him down the hill as Monty was unsure of his ability to negotiate the twisting curves in the dark without guidance. His parting words to the group were: "Kevin has to help me down that mountain or I'll drive around in circles all night."

On the way down, Monty lost control of his car, rolled it down a hill and smashed it into a telephone pole. Years later, in a 1962 interview on the Hy Gardner Show, Monty stated that he had briefly nodded off. Kevin McCarthy, noticing Monty's headlights no longer behind him, went back and found the car down the hill. He went down to it and at first couldn't see where Monty was because he was down on the floor, and it was very dark. His face was left "a pulpy mess", evidently from being crushed by the steering wheel. Kevin raced back up to Elizabeth and Michael's house: "Monty's been in an accident! I think he's dead!"

They called a doctor and an ambulance, while Elizabeth is reported to have run down the hill, climbed over the back seat (as the front doors wouldn't open) and cradled his head in her hands until he was taken to the hospital. She rode in the back of the ambulance, and Phyllis Gates in the front. "His nose was broken, his jaw shattered, his cheeks severely lacerated, and his upper lip split completely in half." (Bosworth, p 2)

The doctors did their best to reconstruct his features as they were. It took several weeks for him to recover, but he insisted on finishing the movie. Elizabeth Taylor brought him to the Chateau Marmont, where she leased the penthouse as a place for him to recuperate. Watching the film today, you can notice the odd changes in his appearance in certain scenes that were spliced together. The left-side of his face was virtually paralyzed by the accident, his face appears puffy, and his upper lip and nose have changed. He continued to work, but his appeal had now changed. With no longer the same type of sex appeal he once had, his drinking and drug use became, if possible, more pronounced.

Final Films

He appeared opposite Marlon Brando in 1958's The Young Lions, as Jewish-American soldier Noah Ackerman, training to fight in WWII. (Buy it VHS, or DVD.) Monty also that year starred as journalist-turned-advice-columnist Adam White in 1958's Lonelyhearts. (Buy it VHS.) He next starred as Dr. Cukrowicz in 1959's Suddenly Last Summer opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn. Katherine Hepburn wants her niece Elizabeth Taylor, who has gone insane, lobotomized by the doctor, to prevent her from spilling the secret of how Katherine's son actually died. Watch it here on YouTube Part 1, or buy it VHS, or DVD.) In all three of his films with Elizabeth Taylor, he played her love interest. In 1960 he starred in the forgotten film Wild River as Chuck Glover, a field administrator for the TVA who is overseeing the building of a dam on the Tennessee River.

He starred in 1961's The Misfits with Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe (which was her and Clark's last movie). This film tells the story of the chance meeting of a recent divorcee, a horse rustler and a drifter. Watch seven minutes of this film here on YouTube or buy it VHS, or DVD.) Also that same year he appeared in Judgement at Nuremberg, the story of the 1948 trial of four Nazi-era judges, several years after the war has ended, for their part in sterilization and cleansing policies. Monty played the part of Rudolph Petersen, a mentally-handicapped man for which again he received an Academy Award nomination in the category "Best Actor in a Supporting Role". Also in this film was Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, and Judy Garland. (Buy it VHS, or DVD.) Despite four nominations, Montgomery Clift never received an Academy Award.

Toward the later part of his life, he became close friends with actress Nancy Walker, best known today as the mother on the TV-series Rhoda (starring Valerie Harper), and also as TV spokesperson for Bounty paper-towels.

In 1962 Monty starred as Sigmund Freud in the semi-autobiographical film Freud, which recounts five years in the life of Freud. That same year he appeared for his first television interview on the Hy Gardner Show. Watch it on Youtube (in five parts) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, I cannot find Part 5 on YouTube.

His last film was the 1966 The Defector in which he played James Bower, an American physicist recruited by the CIA. (Watch it on YouTube Part 1.) Although he was set to star opposite Elizabeth Taylor in 1967's Reflections in a Golden Eye, shooting had not commenced at his death, and his part was subsequently played by Marlon Brando. (Buy it on VHS, or DVD, or watch it on YouTube Part 1.)

Family

Montgomery, while growing, was very close to his twin Ethel, but she married in 1945 to lawyer Robert Campbell McGinnis (1918-95), moving first to Dallas County, Texas where she had two children: Mary Blair McGinnis 1946, and Edward Campbell McGinnis 1948. And then moving to Austin, Travis County, Texas where she had her last three: John Montgomery McGinnis 1949, Michael James McGinnis 1953, and Robert Clift McGinnis 1952.

Montgomery meanwhile continued to live mostly in New York City, even while appearing at times in Hollywood movies. He lived for a few months at a time in the Hollywood area while working in film, and like most actors, occasionally on-location wherever they happened to be shooting. He did on-occasion visit his twin at her home in Austin. Ethel McGinnis appears in an interview about him, many years after his death.

Montgomery both loved and hated his mother. He found her controlling and interfering, but still visited her often. Montgomery's father was an affable person, but distant and weak-willed when it came to exerting family power against his wife. The Clifts lived in New York City until Mr Clift died in 1964. Then at some point prior to her own death, Ethel moved to Austin, Texas where her daughter Ethel lived.

Brooks Clift

William Brooks Clift, Jr was born 4 Feb 1919 in Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska. He was mostly called "Brooks" to distinguish him from his father. The family lived at times in Chicago, and New York and also Brooks with his mother and siblings lived in Europe for months at a time while growing up.

Brooks was at times an actor, producer and exporter. When his eldest child Suzanne was born in 1941 Brooks lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey as she is called "a native of that place, but raised in Boston from infancy." They also had another daughter Cathy who was "raised virtually by her grandmother [Ethel]". And they had a son William, who is called age 18 in 1962. William Brooks Clift III, born 5 Jan 1944 in Boston, became a well-known photographer, with several annual entries in Who's Who in American Art and also in Who's Who in the West.

It's not yet clear when Brooks and his first wife divorced, but it was before 1962 when she is described as already remarried to Peter Thomson "a Boston engineer". In 1951 Brooks is mentioned as the producer of NBC-TV's "Home" show. Brooks also had three children by his second wife Eleanor (Roeloffs) Clift (b. 7 Jul 1940) the noted author and columnist. Those children were Edward Montgomery Clift, Woodbury Blair Clift and Robert Anderson Clift. Eleanor's NNDB entry here states that Brooks died in 1986. Brooks IMDb entry here states that he died 24 Sep 1986 in Los Angeles, California. His California Death Index entry is here, curiously his mother's name is there listed as Fogg.

Brooks also had a son Jamison Clift by actress Kim Stanley, although this son was known as Jamison Conway until the 1980s, when he changed his name. (see The New York Times, 21 Aug 2001, "Kim Stanley...dies at 76") Jamison does or did at one time live in New Mexico, possibly in the Santa Fe area, and might be an artist.

In newspaper accounts dated 1962, Brooks is called a "movie and television producer in New York". Brooks, taking up his mother's passion in genealogy, has done extensive research on the family, according to Monty's biographer Patricia Bosworth. In 1967 Brooks was in a movie called "Vice Girls, Ltd". In an article dated 20 Aug 1975 in the Anderson Daily Bulletin by syndicated columnist Dorothy Manners she states that Brooks "a resident of Atlanta, Ga. with mostly TV commercials to his credit" did a good screen test and landed the part of a white baseball team owner who is the first to sign a black player in the 1930s. The Universal picture was called "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings", the executive producer was stated to be "boss of Motown" Berry Gordy.

Suzanne Clift

An interesting sidenote is that one of Brook's children Suzanne Clift, when she was 21, pled guilty to manslaughter in the 1 Oct 1962, murder of her boyfriend, Piero Brentani, a Swiss-Italian electronics engineer. She shot him in the head and castrated him, according to the 2000 report in The Boston Globe. In newspaper reports of the time, it does not mention that he was castrated. Suzanne's mother is called "Mrs Peter Thompson, divorced and remarried....", while her father "William Brooks Clift Jr" is called a "movie and television producer in New York". Suzanne was put in jail without bail, and a month later while still being held, it was discovered that she was pregnant. Suzanne was committed, during her trial, to the Massachusetts Mental Health Center for tests to determine her mental state. She offered to plead guilty to manslaughter and related to the judge that her boyfriend had told her he would never marry her. She however was "hopelessly in love" and due to bear his child. "I never told him because I knew his feelings. He told me if I ever became pregnant, I would have to have an abortion." She was sentenced to indefinite but voluntary incarceration at the Mental Health Center and ten years probation. In June she gave birth to a baby girl. Suzanne spent three years in the mental hospital before she was released. She came to see Monty after she was released and they played with the baby. (Bosworth, p. 361)

Booze, Drugs and Sex

Monty drank substantially, several times mentioned as "falling down drunk", but while he was working on a film or play he was very focused on the material and not drunk. In addition he took a quantity of drugs, mostly uppers and tranquilizers. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that he used cocaine, marijuana or heroin. Evidently preferring his drugs in pill-form.

Montgomery Clift certainly had sexual relationships with both men and women. He has been described as having a very tortured life. Being gay or bisexual in the 1940's and 50's was almost universally viewed by psychiatrists as a mental abnormality. There is scant evidence that he had a sexual relationship with Elizabeth Taylor, but they were very close friends. C. David Heymann in his biography of Elizabeth states that Monty's personal secretary at least a few times found them in bed like "sleepy siamese kittens". However Monty told another friend that when he and Liz tried to have sex he "couldn't rise to the occasion". Elizabeth is supposed to have asked Monty to marry her before her abrupt marriage to Nicky Hilton in 1951, and just before her second marriage, which was in 1952 to Michael Wilding, she phoned him, and again asked him to marry her. He and Elizabeth remained close friends from their first film, right up until his death. Of course their closeness waxed and waned and was strongest when she wasn't married. His nickname for her was "Bessie Mae". At the end of his career, when he wasn't insurable, she put up her own money for the insurance bond, for the last movie they were to do together, but he died before shooting began.

Similarly it is very unlikely that he had a sexual relationship with James Dean who he called "weird". Montgomery however was one of James Dean's idols and Jimmy sometimes called Monty "just to hear his voice". The situation with Roddy McDowell is ambiguous. They were close friends, but other than that I'm not sure. Patricia often mentions Monty and Roddy, and others getting together to do this or that event. Similarly Roddy remained a friend right up until his death, but like most of his friends, at the end they were thin on the ground.

About his relationship with Libby Holman, an older mother-figure, Patricia Bosworth believes it was sexual. Monty certainly stated that it was, during his life. Monty and Libby drifted apart after his accident.

Patricia Bosworth mentions several male lovers, including some who lived-in, and including some who were apparently somewhat famous as she declines to name them, referring to them only in oblique ways like "this famous actor" or "a certain well-known...". She however alludes to details which it may be possible to track to find out today who they were. His last live-in lover is called "Gillie" in the book. They were together for some time and then split-up toward the end. It was at this time that a live-in nurse was hired in the form of Lorenzo James. There is no evidence that they were sleeping together. Lorenzo was his doorman, nurse, and secretary up until Monty's death, and it was Lorenzo who found Monty dead in his own bed.

Monty is quoted as saying "I love men in bed, but I really love women!" His closest relationships were either to couples like the Greenes and the McCarthys, or to married women seperately such as Elizabeth Taylor, Nancy Walker and Myrna Loy. One female friend said that these were safe relationships. He knew the women were married and so off-limits, so they could be close friends without complications.

Death

Montgomery Clift died of a heart attack in his New York City, four-story brownstone (townhouse) at 217 East 61st Street on 23 Jul 1966, age 45. He was found in his bed, by his personal secretary (some say "companion"), Lorenzo James. His early death may have been exascerbated by his drinking and drug use, but the official cause of death, after an autopsy, was listed as "...occlusive coronary arteriosclerosis with pulmonary edema."

He was buried at Quaker Cemetery in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. Montgomery Clift has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6104 Hollywood Blvd.

His estate was valued at $200,000 and probate in Surrogate's court in New York City. The bulk of the estate went to his sister Ethel McGinnis of Austin, Texas and to his mother Mrs Ethel Clift of New York. He left $12,000 by bequest to his brother William B Clift Jr of Atlanta.
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Primary sources for 1

  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the "Fort Victoria" out of Hamilton, Bermuda on 29 May 1926, arriving New York 31 May 1926 : "Ethel Clift, 32, born 1894 New York, living at Southill, Yorktown Heights, New York; W Brooks Clift, age 7, born 1919 Omaha NE; Roberta Clift, age 5, born 1921 Omaha NE; Montgomery Clift, age 5, born 1921 Omaha NE; Emma Wilke, 40, single, born 1886, Chicago IL, living at Southill, Yorktown Heights, New York"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the "Fort Victoria" out of Hamilton, Bermuda on 7 May 1927, arriving New York 9 May 1927 : "Ethel Clift, 34, born 1893 Yorktown Heights, NY, residence Yorktown Heights, NY; Brooks Clift, 8, born 1919 Omaha, NE; Edward Clift, 6, born 1921 Omaha, NE; Roberta Clift, 6, born 1921 Omaha, NE; Emma Wilkie, 44, born 1883 Chicago, IL"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the "Bremen" 16 Sep 1930 out of Bremen, arriving at New York 22 Sep 1930 : "Ethel Clift, born 29 Sep 1892 Philadelphia PA, residence 1400 Dearborn Street Chicago, IL; Brooks Clift, born 4 Feb 1919 Omaha NE; Montgomery Clift born 16 Oct 1920 Omaha, NE; Ethel Clift, born 16 Oct 1920 Omaha, NE; Emma Wilke, born 6 Feb 1885, Detroit, IL [as found]"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the "Conte Grande" out of Genoa 6 Nov 1931, arriving New York 16 Nov 1931 : "Ethel Clift, born 29 Sep 1892 Philadelphia, PA, residence 44 Wall Street, New York; Brooks Clift, born 4 Feb 1919 Omaha, NE; Ethel Clift born 6 Jun 1922 Omaha, NE; Montgomery Clift, born 6 Jun 1922 Omaha, NE....Emma Wilke, born 6 Feb 1885 Beecher, IL, resident 44 Wall Street New York"
  • The Frederick Post (Frederick, Maryland), 27 Jul 1966, "Montgomery Clift, Actor, Dead at 45" : "New York (AP) — A funeral service was held Tuesday for actor Montgomery Clift. Clift, 45, was stricken Saturday with a coronary caused by hardening of the arteries. He died in his Manhattan apartment. Born in Omaha, Neb., Clift started his acting career at age 13 in an amateur production in Sarasota, Fla. A year later he was on Broadway in 'Fly Away Home' starring Thomas Mitchell. In all, Clift appeared in 13 Broadway plays. Clift shunned the glamor of Hollywood, staying there only long enough to make pictures. Among the 10 movies in which he starred he was nominated for an Academy Award in 'The Search', 'From Here to Eternity' and 'A Place in the Sun.' However he never won an award. Clift, who never married, is survived by his mother, Ethel Clift of New York City; a brother, Brooks of Atlanta, Ga., and a sister Ethel McGinnis of Austin, Tex."

Secondary sources for 1

  • "Montgomery Clift: The Hidden Star" on Biography, watch on YouTube :
    • (Parts of this are missing obviously)
    • Part 1 (1:34), Intro
    • Part 2 (7:27), covering year 1950
    • Part 3 (5:44), covering years 1951-1954
    • Part 4 (9:57), covering years 1953-1958
    • Part 5 (7:06), covering years 1961-1962
    • Part 6 (5:57), covering years 1962-1966, notice at time 5:34 "Sunny Clift outlived both her sons, and died three months shy of her 100th birthday in 1988"
  • "Montgomery Clift", Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Montgomery Clift : A Biography, by Patricia Bosworth; Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; New York (1978), 397 pages. Buy the paperback edition here
  • "Montgomery Clift" at Findadeath.com
  • "Montgomery Clift" at Findagrave.com
  • "Montgomery Clift" on Wikipedia
  • "Montgomery Clift" on IMDb

Further reading

William Brooks Clift

William Brooks "Bill" Clift was born 18 Dec 1886 in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee, the son of Moses Haney Clift by his second wife Florence Virginia "Flo" Parrot. Bill was the second-youngest child of his father's children. The youngest sibling was named Florence after their mother. Bill went to Cornell University, New Jersey in 1908 and served four years as a captain in the infantry while going to college. In 1910 while they were both at Cornell he met Ethel "Sunny" Blair. He graduated in 1912 with a degree in engineering, while she stayed on to finish her own degree. They kept in touch by letters and became engaged during her senior year at Cornell. Sunny met his family that year, Bill's father had died in 1911. Even though Bill's mother Flo disapproved of her, Sunny and Bill were married in October 1914. "They didn't have enough money for a honeymoon instead they went directly to the tiny hamlet of Saltillo, Mississippi, where Bill had a job building dams". (His Life, pg 13) Sunny encouraged Bill to leave engineering and become a banker. By 1917 he had become a bond salesman for National City Company of Chicago, Illinois, and in June of that year, on his WW1 Draft Registration Card, he lists his residence as Nashville, Tennessee. He had blue eyes, dark brown hair, was of medium height and slender.

At some point between 1914 and 1919 they lived also in Kansas, and Bill "sold more Liberty Bonds than anyone else in the mid-West" during World War I. But by early 1919, they had moved to Omaha, Nebraska where their first child William Brooks Clift Jr was born 4 Feb 1919 and where William was nominated for the vice-presidency of the Omaha National Bank. Eighteen months later, their twins Montgomery and Roberta were also born there in October 1920. After enduring several hard-scrabble years, in Omaha they lived in a three-story house with stained-glass windows, a maid and a nurse. When Ethel was pregnant with Brooks, she had to lie immobile for three weeks to save the baby at the end of her pregnancy. Emma Wilke, then head of nursing, admiring Ethel's strength, then became the private nurse to the Clift family and stayed with the family until Brooks went off to college. About 1921 or 1922, Flo wrote from Chattanooga saying she wanted to meet her grandchildren. The meeting did not go well, which Bosworth seems to put down to Sunny's aggressive attitude but I think it was also possibly her still-unresolved anger over her mother-in-law's prior treatment of her. Flo never saw her Sunny or her grandchildren again.

One of Monty's obits states that "eight months [after his birth] the family moved to Chicago" but another source states that "in 1924, Bill obtained a more lucrative position as sales manager of Ames Emerich Investment Company" in Chicago. The family moved to a large house in Highland Park and Bill began making a substanial amount of money. During this period Sunny's restless nature kept her and the children on the move, traveling to New England, Bermuda, Europe and back to the United States. The Winter of 1925 was spent in Somerset, Bermuda where Sunny learned that her mother Maria had just died and was buried at West Point next to her father Robert Anderson. Since Bill's occupation kept him traveling to Manhattan often, to the New York Stock Exchange, they also took a house in Yorktown Heights, New York. In 1926 and 1927, Ethel on her Ships Passenger Lists entries, lists her own residence as Yorktown Heights. It was in 1925 or 1926 that Bill spent time in Virginia and Washington DC trying to track down Sophie Anderson and persuade her to make contact with her niece Ethel. She finally did in 1926, at which time, in the Fall of that year, she told Ethel that Woodbury Blair didn't know she existed.

Bill worked long hours to try to provide enough money for the kind of jaunting lifestyle his wife enjoyed for herself and the children, even if it meant not seeing them for months at a time. Bill was a bit long-suffering, while Ethel and the children spent months away, Bill continued to live and work in New York City, never apparently accompanying them. During this time period, Ethel did not do outside work, but at home her word was law. Ethel has been described as wearing the pants in the family with Bill deferring to her about anything related to the household or the children.

The Great Depression now hit the Clift family. Their investments worth nothing, their antiques were auctioned off and they moved from their great house in Highland Park, to a small apartment on West Ninth Street in the Village in New York City. Sunny took jobs, as a secretary and as a cleaning lady to make ends meet. At this point, Bill became an insurance-policy salesman. Meanwhile, Sunny's restless foot, made her take the children, alongwith their now-tutor Walter Hayward and go rent a house in Sarasota, Florida for the winter of 1932. Hayward, knew a man who needed a 12-year-old boy for a part in a local production, and so in March 1933, in Sarasota, Monty made his stage debut. Upon their return, Sunny took Monty around to agents and auditions on Broadway which started his stage career. At some point Bill became a stockbroker and the family lived on Wall Street itself for a short time.

The family fortunes improved enough that they could send their children to college. Ethel attended Bryn Mawr and graduated in 1941. She joined the Junior League and went to work in Washington DC for the government. On 10 May 1945, her engagement to Lieut. Robert C McGinnis of the Navy was announced in the New York Times. At that time "Mr and Mrs William Brooks Clift" were living at 116 East Fifty-Third Street. Robert McGinnis was the son of the Karl McGinnises of Austin, Texas. Lieutenant McGinnis graduated from the University of Texas and in 1941 from the Yale Law School. At the time of their engagement he was stationed near San Francisco (New York Times, 10 May 1945, pg 18).

William Brooks Clift died 24 Feb 1964 of a heart attack, at New York Hospital, New York City, New York. At the time of his death, he and his wife were living in New York City, while Brooks may have already been living in Atlanta, Georgia (where he was in 1966) and Ethel, the wife of lawyer Robert Campbell McGinnis (1918-95) was then living in Austin, Texas.

Primary Sources for 2

  • 1900 Census of Chattanooga Ward 6, Hamilton County, Tennessee
  • 1910 Census of Chattanooga Ward 6, Hamilton County, Tennessee
  • World War I Draft Registration Cards : "William Brooks Clift; resident of 120 24th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee; born 18 Dec 1886 in Chattanooga, Tenn; bond salesman for National City Co. of 137 South LaSalle, Chicago; married; Capt. Infantry, 4 years, Cornell University, NJ; claims exemption because of Support of Wife; Signed W B Clift; Medium height, slender build, blue eyes, dark brown hair, no disabilities; signed by City Clerk Chicago IL, but recorded at Nashville 5 June 1917"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the Fort St George, out of Hamilton, Bermuda 8 Aug 1925, arriving New York 10 Aug 1925 : "W Brooks Clift, 39, born 1886 Chattanooga, Tenn, residence Yorktown Heights, New York"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the Fort Victoria, out of Hamilton, Bermuda, 1 Jan 1927, arriving New York 3 Jan 1927 : "William B Clift, 40, born 1886, Chattanooga, Tenn, resident of 5 Nassau St, New York, NY"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the Berengaria, out of Southampton 25 May 1929, arriving New York 31 May 1929 : "William Brooks Clift, 42, born Chattanooga, Tenn, 18 Dec 1886, residence at 15 Sheridan Square, New York, NY"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the Nieuw Amsterdam, out of Southampton, 25 Aug 1939, arriving New York 1 Sep 1939 : "Roberta Clift, 18, single, born 16 Oct 1920 Omaha, Neb., resident of 116 E 53rd St, New York; William Clift, 54, born 23 Dec 1884 Chattanooga, Tenn, same residence"
  • New York Times, 26 Feb 1964, Obituary, "William B Clift, 78, Investment Broker" : "William B Clift, a Wall Street investment broker and the father of Montgomery Clift, the actor, died of a heart attack Monday in New York Hospital at the age of 78. He lived at 460 East 79th Street. At his death Mr Clift was a registered representative of Jesup & Lamont, 26 Broadway, members of the New York Stock Exchange. He was born in Chattanooga and was a graduate of Cornell University. In New York he was a partner in the New York Stock Exchange firm of Ames, Emmerich & Co., was associated with the exchange firm of Tucker, Anthony & R.L. Day and, from 1956 to 1962, was a partner in the exchange firm of Theodore Tsolainos & Co. Surviving besides his son Montgomery, are his widow, Mrs. Ethel Fogg Clift; another son, William Jr.; a daughter, Mrs. Robert C. McGinnis; a brother, Rhotan; a sister, Mrs. Florence Horton, and nine grandchildren."

Secondary sources for 2

  • Montgomery Clift : A Biography, by Patricia Bosworth; Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; New York (1978), 397 pages
  • The history of Hamilton County and Chattanooga, Tennessee, by ... page 248 : "William Brooks Clift, who married Ethel Fogg, of Philadelphia, PA. They have three children: William Brooks Clift, Jr, Ethel Clift, and Montgomery Clift." (see also page 247 : "Major Clift's second wife was Florence V Parrott....")
  • Montgomery Clift: A Biography, by Michelangelo Capua

Ethel Blair

Early life

A dubious story is related by Patricia Bosworth in her biography of Montgomery Clift about his mother Ethel's birth. According to Patricia's report, she was told that Ethel "Sunny" had been born from the union of Woodbury "Woody" Blair and Maria "Bobbie" Anderson. Maria had formed an attachment to Woodbury, but Maria's mother Elizabeth disapproved of the relationship. Maria and Woodbury continued meeting without her mother's approval and eventually married secretly. When her mother learned about the marriage, she either had it annuled, or forced Maria to do so. She then kept Maria a virtual prisoner, sometimes guarded by her sister Sophie. (This part of the story might have occured in Washington, D.C.)

Maria however, according to this story, had already became pregnant. When it came time for the child's birth, they moved, in the Summer of 1888 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Maria gave birth on 29 Sep 1888. The birth certificate, according to Patricia Bosworth, records her parents as "Sophie and Frank Adams". Her mother forced Maria to agree to give the child up for adoption. So far, this much of the story was told to Ethel, when she was 18, by Dr Edward Montgomery who had been the attending physician at her birth, and who had kept a watch over her, even though she was adopted by the Fogg family at the age of 1.

Sophia Anderson, Maria's sister is reported to have told Sunny decades later, that Woodbury Blair was never told of his wife's pregnancy or the birth of their child. The doctor who delivered the child, Edward E Montgomery, kept her for a year, and finally she was adopted by the Charles Fogg family of Germantown. In 1895 Charles Fogg is listed as a machinist, age 48, while his wife Elizabeth is age 40. Evidently they had no children of their bodies.

When Sunny was 18, she went to Cornell on a scholarship. It was then that Dr. Montgomery told her this story of her birth. The Blair family never accepted this story, at least they had not by the time of Patrica's book, published in 1978, calling it "hogwash" according to her report. Some of the Anderson family did accept the story.

Sunny never met her mother, although she is quoted by Patricia as stating that she wrote letters that were never answered. Patricia states that Sunny learned that her mother "had recently died" in 1925/6, and at that time re-doubled her efforts to contact her family. The first odd question is that Montgomery Blair lived until 1933. So where is the evidence that she contacted him? Seven years is an awful long time.

The second odd question arises when it's realized that Sunny's grandmother Elizabeth had died in 1905. This leaves on the table, why her mother and father, who outlived the supposed "evil grandmother" by 20 years, did not contact Sunny. Something about the story passed down, doesn't quite ring true. If Maria was being "held prisoner" this certainly ended by 1905. And in fact she was a co-executor of her mother Elizabeth's estate that year.

Another rather interesting note, is that after I'd rapidly skimmed the list of contents of the "Patricia Bosworth papers" I saw no references to any member of the Blair or the Anderson family. I find that a bit too odd. If you, as an author, had heard such a bizarre story, wouldn't you follow it up to try to learn it's veracity? If you, as a mother were "determined" to be acknowledged by your relatives, wouldn't you actually simply go to Washington DC and pester them directly in person, instead of writing dozens of letters that go unanswered? Knowing that your father and mother are yet living? I'm fairly skeptical of something here... I'm just not quite sure what yet.

Marriage

Ethel married in Oct 1914 to William Brooks Clift who she had met while both were at Cornell University in New Jersey. The family apparently traveled to various places as Bill was firstly an engineer "working on a dam" in Mississippi, and then a traveling bond salesman, possibly based in Nashville where he states he is living Jun 1917. They reportedly had several hard years before Bill was nominated as vice-president of Omaha National Bank.

Ethel pregnant by the Summer of 1918 was told that at the end of pregnancy, she had to lie still to avoid problems. She was a rather small woman, which might explain this unusual advice. For the last six weeks of her pregnancy she lay in the hospital and the head of nursing Emma Wilke was so amazed that she decided to become the Clift's family nurse. In Omaha, Ethel gave birth to the couple's eldest child William Brooks Clift Jr in February 1919. A few newspaper articles, decades later, refer to Bill as Monty's "younger" brother. But this is not true.

By 1919 the Clift's were living in Omaha, Nebraska and now well-off with a three-story house with stained glass, a private maid and also nurse Emma Wilke. A year later, Ethel again became pregnant, but this time with twins, and toward the end of 1920 she gave birth to at first Roberta, but several hours later, also Montgomery.

When Montgomery Clift died in 1966, his mother Ethel was then living in New York City, while her daughter Roberta, then married to Robert C McGinnis was living in Austin, Texas. Ethel died in June 1988 in Austin, Travis County, Texas, probably living with or near her daughter.

Primary sources for 3

  • 1900 Census of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
  • 1910 Census of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
  • World War I Draft Registration Cards : "William Brooks Clift; resident of 120 24th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee; born 18 Dec 1886 in Chattanooga, Tenn; bond salesman for National City Co. of 137 South LaSalle, Chicago; married; Capt. Infantry, 4 years, Cornell University, NJ; claims exemption because of Support of Wife; Signed W B Clift; Medium height, slender build, blue eyes, dark brown hair, no disabilities; signed by City Clerk Chicago IL, but recorded at Nashville 5 June 1917"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the "Fort Victoria" out of Hamilton, Bermuda on 30 Jan 1926, arriving New York 1 Feb 1926 : "Ethel Clift, 30, born 1895, Phildelphia, PA, address Yorktown Heights, New York"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the "Fort Victoria" out of Hamilton, Bermuda on 29 May 1926, arriving New York 31 May 1926 : "Ethel Clift, 32, born 1894 New York, living at Southill, Yorktown Heights, New York; W Brooks Clift, age 7, born 1919 Omaha NE; Roberta Clift, age 5, born 1921 Omaha NE; Montgomery Clift, age 5, born 1921 Omaha NE; Emma Wilke, 40, single, born 1886, Chicago IL, living at Southill, Yorktown Heights, New York"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the "Fort Victoria" out of Hamilton, Bermuda on 7 May 1927, arriving New York 9 May 1927 : "Ethel Clift, 34, born 1893 Yorktown Heights, NY, residence Yorktown Heights, NY; Brooks Clift, 8, born 1919 Omaha, NE; Edward Clift, 6, born 1921 Omaha, NE; Roberta Clift, 6, born 1921 Omaha, NE; Emma Wilkie, 44, born 1883 Chicago, IL"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the "Bremen" 16 Sep 1930 out of Bremen, arriving at New York 22 Sep 1930 : "Ethel Clift, born 29 Sep 1892 Philadelphia PA, residence 1400 Dearborn Street Chicago, IL; Brooks Clift, born 4 Feb 1919 Omaha NE; Montgomery Clift born 16 Oct 1920 Omaha, NE; Ethel Clift, born 16 Oct 1920 Omaha, NE; Emma Wilke, born 6 Feb 1885, Detroit, IL [as found]"
  • New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Sailing on the "Conte Grande" out of Genoa 6 Nov 1931, arriving New York 16 Nov 1931 : "Ethel Clift, born 29 Sep 1892 Philadelphia, PA, residence 44 Wall Street, New York; Brooks Clift, born 4 Feb 1919 Omaha, NE; Ethel Clift born 6 Jun 1922 Omaha, NE; Montgomery Clift, born 6 Jun 1922 Omaha, NE....Emma Wilke, born 6 Feb 1885 Beecher, IL, resident 44 Wall Street New York"
  • Social Security Death Index : "Ethel Clift, born 29 Sep 1892 [as found], SSN issued by New York (1964-65), died 27 Jun 1988, last residence Austin, Travis County, Texas"

Secondary sources for 3

  • Montgomery Clift : A Biography, by Patricia Bosworth; Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; New York (1978), 397 pages
  • "Ethel Fogg" on OneWorldTree

See Also

Moses Haney Clift

Col. Moses Haney Clift was born 25 Aug 1836 in Soddy, Hamilton County, Tennessee, the son of Col William Clift and his wife Nancy Arwin Brooks. He served as a Confederate soldier in the U.S. Civil War. Shortly afterward moving from Nashville to Chattanooga. Moses married firstly to Charlotte Attaline "Attie" Cook on 16 Sep 1866 in Monroe County, Tennessee. They had three or four children, before her death in 1876 in Chattanooga, aged 29. He married secondly to Florence Virginia Parrott daughter of Judge J.R. Parrott of Catersville, Georgia on 28 Jun 1883 in Hamilton County, Tennessee. They had three more children. The second-youngest of Moses' children was William Brooks Clift, father of actor Montgomery Clift.

Moses became a lawyer and eventually president of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. He died 3 Dec 1911 and was buried in his gray uniform in the Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery.

Primary sources for 4

Secondary sources for 4

Florence Virginia Parrot

Florence Virginia "Flo" Parrot was born Apr 1858 in Georgia, the daughter of Josiah Parrot by his wife Mureilla Trammell.

On 28 Jun 1883, in Hamilton County, Tennessee she married, as his second wife, Moses Haney Clift (1836-1911), a widower with three young children already. Together they had an additional three children, the middle child of these last three being William Brooks Clift.

Florence died on 16 Dec 1924 in Hamilton County, Tennessee.

Primary sources for 5

Secondary sources for 5

Woodbury Blair

Woodbury "Woody" Blair was born 1 Sep 1852 at St Louis, Missouri, the son of Montgomery Blair and his wife Mary Elizabeth Woodbury. Six months after his birth, his parents relocated back to Maryland. He became a lawyer. The family located by 1880 in Washington, DC.

The story related by Patricia Bosworth in her biography of Montgomery Clift, I will paraphrase here as :
that Woodbury's first wife, albeit by an elopement, and shortly thereafter annuled, was Maria "Bobbie" Anderson. That they had met about 1886 at some social function, that Bobbie's mother strongly disapproved of Woodbury, but that they married secretly, and then Maria returned to her mother. Eventually it came out that they were married, and her mother made her get it annuled.
By this union, Maria became pregnant. Her mother Eliza moved the family to Philadelphia, Maria was kept in confinement by her mother until the child's birth. Then a Dr. Edward Montgomery, who was an old family friend oversaw the birth and was given the child to adopt out. As the story is related, Woodbury never knew this child existed.

The Blair family, according to Patricia's report never accepted this story as true. This child who I'm here calling Ethel Blair was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 29 Sep 1888. "Immediately after the birth, the Anderson women returned to Washington, DC" (Bosworth, p10). Reader please remember that the above story is strictly based on what Brooks and Sunny told Pat Bosworth. Patricia did not verify any of this story. So far there has been no documentary evidence to back up any part of this story, and that is a tenuous position from which to build. So if you cite it, please cite it with these reservations.

On 6 Jul 1907, Woodbury, then aged 54 married to Emily Wallach, aged 38. Woodbury Blair died 14 Oct 1933 at Emergency Hospital, Washington DC. They had some connection as well to Newport, Rhode Island as his obit instructs newspapers of that place to copy.

Primary sources for 6

Secondary sources for 6

  • Washington past and present: A history, Vol IV, page 632 : "Woodbury Blair, eldest of the three sons of Montgomery and Mary Elizabeth (Woodbury) Blair, was born at St Louis, Missouri 1 Sep 1852....On 6 Jul 1907, Woodbury Blair was married to Emily N. Wallach, daughter of Richard Wallach, a former Mayor of Washington. They have no chidren."
  • the BGMI cites:
    • Encyclopedia of American Biography. New Series. Volume 3. New York: American Historical Society, . Use the Index to locate biographies. (EncAB-A 3) Biography contains portrait.
    • The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Volume 25. New York: James T. White & Co., 1936. Use the Index to locate biographies. (NatCAB 25)

Further reading for 6

Maria Latham Anderson

A certain amount of reservation must be used when stating that Maria Latham Anderson and Woodbury Blair were ancestors to the actor Montgomery Clift. Other than the biography of Montgomery Clift by Patricia Bosworth, which must ultimately rest on the word and memory of Sunny Clift, we have nothing whatosever to tie Sunny either to the Blairs or the Andersons. Patricia herself did nothing new to verify this connection, merely copying out what she was told by Sunny or Brooks.

That is a tenuous position. If Sunny fabricated, or if Dr Edward Montgomery did so, we have no way to tell yes or no. Certainly Brooks would simply believe his mother, and proceed with researching the families, without the necessary evidence to build this bridge. One remaining way might be to prove that Maria's surviving sister Sophie really did give Sunny $25,000 in her will. If that evidence surfaces, that might be an acceptable way to say that yes, there was some link there.

Please cite this link with reservations!

Maria Latham Anderson was born about 1848 probably in Ohio, but possibly in Maryland, the third child and second daughter of Major Robert Anderson by his wife Eliza Bayard Clinch. Maria's father Robert died in 1871 in Nice, France where they had gone for his health. But per the story related by Patricia Bosworth, her mother Eliza hysterically kept her daughters under close watch desiring them to stay with her as maidens until her death. This is supposed to have occurred in Washington, DC, but Pat incorrectly states that Robert "died in 1880". Maria's eldest surviving sibling also named Eliza married for the only time in 1886 when around 40 years old and moved to New York City. The next sibling was Maria who reportedly married Woodbury Blair, somewhere around Washington, between 1886 and 1888. Maria is supposed to have from this had a child in Philadelphia which was given up for adoption in 1888, and the marriage annuled. The youngest sister Sophie never married. One eldest sibling, a boy died an infant, and the only other sibling Robert died at age 20 unmarried. It would appear that at some point the entire extended family was living in New York City when they appear in the Social Register, but this is not perfectly clear yet.

Maria and Sophie were the executors of their mother's estate in 1905, and Maria was still living when her eldest sister died in 1919 leaving half her house in Elizabethtown, New York to her (the other half to Sophie). Maria is said-to-have died in 1925, either unmarried or not remarried.

Primary sources for 7

William Clift

Col. William Clift owned 45,000 acres in Soddy, Hamilton County, Tennessee. The land, rich in iron ore and timber made him a millionaire by the time he was thirty, according to the biography of Montgomery Clift by Patricia Bosworth. William served on the Union side in the U.S. Civil War.

Nancy Arwin Brooks

Secondary sources for 9

Josiah Parrot

Mureilla Trammell

Montgomery Blair

Mary Elizabeth Woodbury

Robert Anderson

Robert Anderson was born 14 Jun 1805 near Louisville, Kentucky, at "Soldier's Retreat", the home of his father's Col. Richard Clough Anderson (1784-1826) and his second wife Sarah Marshall. (see [1]) He graduated from the United States Military Academy at Westpoint, New York in 1825. He received a commission as a brevet second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Artillery. He served as a colonel in the Black Hawk War of 1832, and as a first lieutenant in the Second Seminole War in 1833, becoming an assistant adjutant general. In 1839 his book Instruction for Field Artillery, Horse and Foot was published. He was wounded in the Mexican-American War for which he received a brevet promotion to major. "He began planning a "Retreat" for the soldiers of the Regular Army, and on 3 Mar 1851 brought to a triumphant finish his labors in their behalf, when the Bill authorizing the founding of the 'Soldier's Home' in Washington as embodied in his original plan, passed Congress." (Soldier's Home, p.iii) He received a permanent promotion to major in 1857.

Even though he was a native Kentuckian and commanding officer at Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina he remained loyal to the Union. When South Carolina voted to secede, he refused to surrender his fort. He held out for four months, finally surrendering on 14 April 1861. This battle began the Civil War. "Colonel Robert Anderson, the Union commander of Fort Sumter, whose brilliant and heroic defense of that Charleston fort in 1861 (he refused to surrender to Jefferson Davis and evacuated only after four months of intensive fighting) marked the beginning of the Civil War." (Bosworth, p. 9) Anderson's actions at Fort Sumter made him an immediate national hero. He was promoted to brigadier general. He retired from the Army on 27 Oct 1863. In one of her books, his daughter Eliza gives him the name "Brevet Major-General Robert Anderson".

He married Eliza Bayard Clinch on 26 Mar 1842 in New York City. (see [2], [3]) They had five children: Duncan Lamont died young; Eliza Mackintosh "Eba" Clinch Anderson who married James Marsland Lawton on 3 Jul 1886; Maria Latham Anderson whom he nicknamed "Bobbie" after himself; Sophie Clinch Anderson and Robert Anderson who died age 20. They lived in Washington, DC, but in failing health, he and his wife went to Europe hoping to improve his condition, where he died at Nice, France in 27 Oct 1871. His body shipped back to the United States, was buried in West Point Cemetery.

Primary sources for 14

Secondary sources for 14

  • "Major Robert Anderson" on Wikipedia
  • Montgomery Clift : A Biography, by Patricia Bosworth; Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; New York (1978), 397 pages

Further reading

Eliza Bayard Clinch

Eliza Bayard Clinch was born 1820/4 in Georgia.

On 26 Mar 1842 in New York City, she married Robert Anderson and they had five children.

Eliza Bayard Clinch died on 25 Feb 1905 and is buried at the West Point Cemetery in West Point, Orange County, New York.

She had three surviving children. By her 1905 will she left $5000 to her eldest daughter Eba Anderson Lawton, and the residue of the estate split between her two other daughters Maria and Sophie.

Primary sources for 15

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