Saturday, January 23, 2010


British actress Jean Simmons who played the character of the lovely Varinia in Spartacus, died on January 22 at her home in Santa Monica, California, after suffering from lung cancer, the Los Angeles Times said.

Adapted from the novel by Howard Fast, Spartacus concerns itself with the two extremes of Roman society: the slaves and the senators. Kirk Douglas plays Spartacus, a Thraecian slave by birth who gets recruited by a Roman gladiatorial school. There he learns to fight to the death for the amusement of pagan aristocrats. The training scenes at the school are choreographed like militaristic dances; one can see the beginnings of Kubrick’s man-as-machine obsession. Douglas, square jawed and block shouldered, hardly speaks. His Spartacus is both a savage and an automaton, able to perform with physical perfection but harboring deep, unspoken rage.
Part of that rage runs over when he falls in love with the demure slave girl Varinia (Jean Simmons). Their first scenes together are beautiful, near wordless encounters. She is presented to him as a courtesan, and he, clearly a novice at romance, does not know what to do with her. They take to giving each other long, aching glances across courtyards and through iron bars. Later, when she’s callously given to another gladiator for the evening, Spartacus must endure the sounds of love making, and he paces his cell like a caged beast. His almost constant state of repression, emotional or otherwise, constitutes what screenwriter Dalton Trumbo calls in the audio commentary the "small Spartacus." It is the Spartacus we can empathize with and pity – a dark, brooding ex-slave plagued by self-doubt and a low self-esteem. It is the Spartacus who, in spite of his humble nature, leads a spontaneous revolt against the school. Letting out all of his repressed anger, Spartacus attacks the school guards with amazing savagery and leads his fellow gladiators on a rampage through the countryside.
Apart from Kirk Douglas, Simmons also starred in films with other legendary actors such as Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando. She earned two Oscar nominations during a career spanning seven decades.

Jean Simmons
5' 6"  (168 cm)
Eye Color
Hair Color
Brown - Dark
Date of Birth
January 31, 1929
Crouch Hill, London
Star Sign
January 22, 2010 (Aged 81)
Cause of Death
lung cancer

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