SHE played Ophelia to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet and won her first Oscar nomination at the age of 18, dazzling cinemagoers in her native Britain and around the world.

But for one night in January, 1950, Hollywood star Jean Simmons was Glasgow’s belle of the ball..

Lifelong fan Robert Campbell, who has been researching the famous actor’s career for eight years, got in touch to share the story of her string of visits to Glasgow.

Glasgow Times:

“I was beguiled by her when the very first wide-screen Cinemascope picture, The Robe, came to our local cinema in Alexandria on February 14, 1955,” said Robert, who lives in Paisley.

“Incredibly, as no biography of her exists, I started to look into her career, and I was interested to learn that the place she kept returning to was the then-grey and industrial city of Glasgow.

"It would be interesting to discover if any Glasgow Times readers retain memories of her visits…”

Glasgow Times:

Our picture archives include a wonderful shot of Simmons being made an ‘honorary student’ for Glasgow University’s Student’s Charity Week in January 1950.

Robert explained: “She was welcomed at Central Station, visited East Park Home for Infirm Children to present a cheque for £1000 from the previous year’s collection and then lunched with students at the Union.

“On the stage of the Odeon cinema in Renfield Street, Jean was presented with a large cake to mark her 21st birthday and later she was guest of honour at the SRC dinner.

“That evening, dressed in a silken evening gown, fun-loving Jean was belle of the ball at the Charities Ball in the City Chambers.”

This was not Jean’s first visit to Glasgow – she had appeared in Tolstoy’s The Power of Darkness at the King’s Theatre in April 1949, alongside her fiancé, Stewart Granger.

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Robert explained; “Alas, the play proved altogether too dark for theatregoers and its London season later that year was axed after a few days.

“On September 10, 1949, Jean was back in Glasgow as guest of honour at the Scottish Industries Exhibition in Kelvin Hall. In the arena there, she presented the 300,000th visitor, Mr Joseph McLachlan of Craigielea Drive in Paisley, with a table lamp, a season ticket for the exhibition and a box of chocolates.”

Glasgow Times:

Born in 1929 in London, Simmons attended Orange Hill School for Girls before her mum sent her to the Aida Foster School of Dancing and Drama in Golders Green.

“After just two weeks, film producer and director Val Guest chose her to appear in his film Give us the Moon with Britain’s number one female star, Margaret Lockwood,” said Robert.

“A natural actress, she soon gained plaudits for her roles in David Lean’s Great Expectations and Olivier’s Hamlet; by the time she followed her fiancé to Hollywood in 1950, she had appeared in 18 films.”

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Simmons married Granger the same year and went on to work with many of Hollywood’s great leading men, including Robert Mitchum, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando and Richard Burton.

She died in 2010.

Glasgow Times:

Robert said: “Jean’s final visit to Glasgow came on September 10, 1950, when she visited the Kelvin Hall, appearing in performances of Variety Night, touring the stands and attending a mannequin parade.”

“It would be really interesting to hear if anyone remembers Jean’s visits to Glasgow,” said Robert.

Did you see Jean in Glasgow?

Send your stories and photos to or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, Print Centre, 125 Fullarton Drive, Cambuslang G32 8FG.