His father, William Brooks Clift, was a vice-president of Omaha National Trust Company. (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 Irish ancestry.As part of Sunny Clift's lifelong preparation for acceptance by her reported biological family, a goal which she never fully achieved, she raised Clift and his siblings as if they were aristocrats.Home-schooled by their mother as well as private tutors in the United States and Europe, in spite of their father's fluctuating finances, they did not attend a regular school until they were in their teens.According to Elizabeth Taylor (as quoted in Patricia Bosworth's biography of Clift), "Monty could've been the biggest star in the world if he did more movies." Clift was notoriously picky with his projects.His next movie, A Place in the Sun (1951), is one of his iconic roles.He worked extensively on his character and was again nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.
The studio marketed Clift as a sex symbol prior to the movie's release in 1949.
The movie was nominated for a screenwriting Academy Award, but the original writers were credited.
Clift's performance saw him nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He signed on for the movie in order to avoid being typecast.
She spent part of her life and her husband's money attempting to establish the Southern lineage that had reportedly been revealed to her at age 18 by the physician who delivered her, Edward Montgomery, after whom she named her younger son.
According to Clift biographer Patricia Bosworth, Ethel was the illegitimate daughter of Woodbury Blair and Maria Anderson, whose marriage had been annulled before her birth and subsequent adoption.