They returned to Tulsa for a 13-week radio program arranged by her father, and then headed for Hollywood. Isley landed two small roles, first in a 1939 John Wayne western titled New Frontier, followed by a serial entitled, Dick Tracy's G-Men. In these two films, she was billed as "Phyllis Isley" (Phyllis now spelled with two Ls). However, when she and Walker failed a screen test for Paramount Pictures, they decided to return to New York City.
She was carefully groomed for stardom and given a new name: Jennifer Jones. Director Henry King was impressed by her screen test as Bernadette Soubirous for The Song of Bernadette and she won the coveted role over hundreds of applicants. In 1944, Jones won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as St. Bernadette. That year, Jones' friend, Ingrid Bergman, was also a Best Actress nominee for her work in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Jones apologized to Bergman, who replied "No, Jennifer, your Bernadette was better than my Maria." Jones presented the Best Actress Oscar the following year to Bergman for Gaslight.
Over the next two decades, Jones appeared in a wide range of roles selected by Selznick. Her dark beauty and sensitive nature appealed to audiences and she projected a variable range. Her initial saintly image — as shown in her first starring role — was a stark contrast three years later when she was cast as a provocative bi-racial woman in Selznick’s controversial film Duel in the Sun. Other notable films included Since You Went Away, Love Letters, Cluny Brown, Portrait of Jennie, Madame Bovary, Carrie, Ruby Gentry, Indiscretion of an American Wife, Beat the Devil, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, Good Morning Miss Dove, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and A Farewell to Arms. Her leading men during this period included Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, John Garfield, Charlton Heston, Lord Laurence Olivier, Montgomery Clift, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, Robert Stack, Sir John Gielgud, Rock Hudson and Jason Robards.
The portrait of Jones for the film Portrait of Jennie, was painted by Robert Brackman.
Jones married Selznick on July 13, 1949, a marriage that lasted until his death on June 22, 1965. After his death, she semi-retired from acting; her last appearance was a supporting role in the 1974 film The Towering Inferno. Jones' only child with Selznick, Mary Jennifer Selznick (August 12, 1954—1976), committed suicide by jumping from a 20th-floor window. This led to Jones's interest in mental health issues.
On May 29, 1971, Jones married multi-millionaire industrialist, art collector and philanthropist Norton Simon, who sadly also survived the suicide death of his son Robert, in 1969. Years before he'd met future wife Jennifer Jones, he had attempted to buy the portrait of her used in the film Portrait of Jennie (1948). Later Simon met Jennifer Jones at a party hosted by fellow industrialist/art collector Walter Annenberg. Norton Simon died in June 1993. Jennifer Jones-Simon is currently on the board of directors of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena.
|1943||Academy Award||Best Actress||The Song of Bernadette|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama|
|1944||Academy Award||Best Supporting Actress||Since You Went Away|
|1945||Academy Award||Best Actress||Love Letters|
|1946||Academy Award||Best Actress||Duel in the Sun|
|1947||Golden Apple Award||Least Cooperative Actress|
|1955||Academy Award||Best Actress||Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing|
|Photoplay Award||Most Popular Female Star|
|1974||Golden Globe Award||Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture||The Towering Inferno|
|1975||David di Donatello Award|
|1997||German Film Award||Life Achievement Award|
|1939||New Frontier||Celia Braddock|
|Dick Tracy's G-Men||Gwen Andrews|
|1943||The Song of Bernadette||Bernadette||Academy Award for Best Actress; Golden Globe|
|1944||Since You Went Away||Jane Deborah Hilton||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1945||Love Letters||Singleton/Victoria Morland||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1946||Cluny Brown||Cluny Brown|
|Duel in the Sun||Pearl Chavez||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1948||Portrait of Jennie||Jennie Appleton|
|1949||We Were Strangers||China Valdés|
|Madame Bovary||Emma Bovary|
|Gone to Earth||Hazel Woodus|
|Ruby Gentry||Ruby Gentry|
|1953||Beat the Devil||Mrs. Gwendolen Chelm|
|1954||Indiscretion of an American Wife||Mary Forbes|
|1955||Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing||Dr. Han Suyin||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress|
|Good Morning Miss Dove||Miss Dove|
|1956||The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit||Betsy Rath|
|1957||The Barretts of Wimpole Street||Elizabeth Barrett|
|A Farewell to Arms||Catherine Barkley|
|1962||Tender Is the Night||Nicole Diver|
|1969||Cult of the Damned||Astrid Steele|
|1974||The Towering Inferno||Lisolette Mueller||Nominated - Golden Globe|