Jean Merilyn Simmons, OBE (January 31, 1929 – January 22, 2010) was an English actress. She appeared predominantly in motion pictures, beginning with films made in Great Britain during and after World War II - she was one of J. Arthur Rank's 'well-spoken young starlets' - followed mainly by Hollywood films from 1950.
Simmons was born in Lower Holloway, London, England, to Charles Simmons and his wife Winifred (Loveland) Simmons; Jean was the youngest of four children; her siblings were Edna, Harold and Lorna. Simmons began acting at the age of 14. During World War II, the Simmons family was evacuated to Winscombe in Somerset. Her father, a physical education teacher (who had represented Great Britain in the 1912 Summer Olympics), taught briefly at Sidcot School, and sometime during this period Simmons followed her elder sister on to the village stage and sang songs such as "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow". Returning to London and just enrolled at the Aida Foster School of Dance, she was spotted by the director Val Guest, who cast her in the Margaret Lockwood vehicle Give us the Moon. Prior to moving to Hollywood, she played the young Estella in David Lean's version of Great Expectations (1946) and Ophelia in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948), for which she received her first Oscar nomination. It was the experience of working on Great Expectations that caused her to pursue an acting career more seriously:
"I thought acting was just a lark, meeting all those exciting movie stars, and getting £5 a day which was lovely because we needed the money. But I figured I'd just go off and get married and have children like my mother. It was working with David Lean that convinced me to go on."