The capricious [Howard] Hughes ill-used her talent. She flourished, however, as soon as she broke free of him, becoming for more than a decade one of the dominant performers in an industry where the studio system was in decline. The first great part was playing the Roman patrician converted to Christianity in the widescreen epic The Robe (1953), the first feature made in CinemaScope. In it she acted opposite Richard Burton, and at different times she co-starred with Robert Mitchum, Spencer Tracy (she called her first child Tracy Granger), Gregory Peck, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster and Cary Grant, and was directed by Otto Preminger, George Cukor, Joseph L Mankiewicz, William Wyler, Stanley Kubrick, Stanley Donen and her second husband, Richard Brooks (with whom she had a daughter named Kate after Katharine Hepburn).
She appeared with Marlon Brando...
in 1955 for Guys And Dolls, the Samuel Goldwyn-produced musical in which Simmons is Sarah Brown, a Salvation Army-style reformer conned into a weekend fling in Havana by gambler Sky Masterson.
She loved the rehearsals for that film, Simmons recalled in 1988, "especially the dancing routines with Marlon trying not to step on me and choreographer Michael Kidd looking very worried".
"I got to sing," she added, "because Sam Goldwyn said, 'You might as well wreck it with your own voice than somebody else's'."