Standing 5' 5" tall, weighing 122 pounds, with reddish brown hair, she was immediately recognized as a new young actress of rare beauty.

After half a dozen increasingly important roles, mainly playing Asian beauties, she scored a huge and defining success as Laura Hunt, a hauntingly beautiful model who is believed murdered in the 1944 film noir classic “Laura.” A portrait of Tierney as Laura was a visual signature of the film, as a detective played by Dana Andrews fell in love with her enigmatic beauty as depicted in the painting (thus the comparison with the Mona Lisa). The "Laura painting" is actually a photograph of Tierney touched up with some paintbrush strokes.
Gene's boss and mentor, Zanuck, had preferred Jennifer Jones play Laura but she turned it down. After Hedy Lamarr did the same, Tierney tested for the role.

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