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These days, Dean’s acting can look flighty and neurotic.

But Clift genuinely projected: he portrayed loners, defying convention and resisting the mainstream; he was at his best playing principled idealists whose will could not be bent.

He kept his tormented sexuality a secret from most everyone he knew – making discreet trips to Ogunquit, Maine, where gay men could have trysts without being noticed, then to Fire Island, which was a well-known gay getaway. Little was published about his homosexual affairs, and he was fiercely determined to keep that aspect of himself under wraps.

In 1940 he had his first regular male lover, who was a fellow actor.

Along with Marlon Brando and James Dean, Clift was one of the original method actors in Hollywood; he was one of the first actors to be invited to study in the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan.

He also executed a rare move by not signing a contract after arriving in Hollywood, only doing so after his first two films were a success—"a power differential that would go on to structure the star-studio relationship for the next 40 years." Clift had a twin sister, Ethel, who survived him by 48 years, and a brother, William Brooks Clift, Jr.

(1919–1986), who had an illegitimate son with actress Kim Stanley and was later married to political reporter Eleanor Clift.

Clift had English, as well as Dutch and Scottish ancestry.

If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better.Part of her effort was her determination that her children should be brought up in the style of true aristocrats.Thus, as long as Bill Clift was able to pay for it, Brooks, Ethel and Montgomery were privately tutored, travelled extensively in America and Europe, became fluent in German and French, and were kept apart from people whom Sunny thought "common." The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s ruined Bill Clift financially.Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift were two of the biggest young stars in the movies by the late 1940s.It was inevitable that Hollywood would pair these popular actors together on the silver screen.

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