On May 12, 1956, Elizabeth Taylor and her second husband Michael Wilding threw a dinner party at their Beverly Hills home. Montgomery Clift refused the invitation several times but later accepted and attended. The party turned out to be a terrific bore. Monty grumbled about the way the MGM director Edward Dmytryk was shooting everything in “Raintree County” in giant close-ups. He was depressed and angry. He sensed the film would be a colossal disaster. The party broke up about midnight with Monty saying goodbye in the driveway and taking off down the road Elizabeth called a “cork twister.” Kevin McCarthy was in the lead.
Within minutes, Kevin was back at Elizabeth’s house, ringing the bell. Monty Clift had had a serious car accident. His car had struck a utility pole as he rounded one of the hairpin turns in the fog. Elizabeth shrieked and demanded that Kevin immediately take her to the scene. She and Kevin arrived at the wreck: “Monty’s car was demolished, an ‘accordion-pleated mess,’ Elizabeth said. A 4,800 transformer, knocked off the pole by the impact, had narrowly missed hitting the car. McCarthy thought his friend was dead. ‘The doors were so jammed that we couldn’t get to him,’ he said.” Broken glass was everywhere – but that didn’t faze Elizabeth. She climbed in the car through a back window. “‘Adrenaline does something to you,’ she remembered.” Elizabeth hauled herself over the bloody seat. Monty’s motionless body lay beneath the steering wheel. His face was barely recognizable. “‘It was like pulp” Elizabeth called out to Monty. He reacted to her voice and indicated to her that he was choking. Several of his teeth had broken off and had lodged in the back of his throat. Reaching inside his mouth, Elizabeth pulled the teeth out, one by one. Elizabeth saved his life. Monty could once again breathe. It was nearly an hour before an ambulance arrived and, with it, a handful of frenzied photographers. Elizabeth positioned herself between the stretcher carrying Monty and the photographers’ cameras. “She was remarkable,” said McCarthy. She told the photographers that if they so much as snapped one photo of Monty’s bloodied face, she’d never allow her to take another photo of her. The photographers backed off.