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Constance Bennett

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Constance Campbell Bennett October 22, 1904 – July 24, 1965 was an American stage, film, radio and television actress She was a major Hollywood star during the 1920s and 1930s and for a time during the early 1930s, she was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood, as well as one of the most popular Bennett frequently played society women, focusing on melodramas in the early 1930s and then taking more comedic roles in the late 1930s and 1940s She is best known today for her leading roles in Topper 1937, in which she co-starred with Cary Grant; its sequel Topper Takes a Trip 1938; and What Price Hollywood 1932 Bennett also had a prominent supporting role in Greta Garbo's last film, Two-Faced Woman 19411

She was the daughter of stage and silent film star Richard Bennett, and the older sister of actress Joan Bennett1

Contents

  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Later career and death
  • 5 Filmography
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Early lifeedit

Bennett was born in New York City, the daughter of actor Richard Bennett and actress Adrienne Morrison, whose father was the stage actor Lewis Morrison Morris W Morris, a performer of English, Spanish, Jewish, and African ancestry2 Constance's younger sister was prominent actress Joan Bennett Their other sibling was actress/dancer Barbara Bennett

Careeredit

After some time spent in a convent, Bennett went into the family business Independent, cultured, ironic and outspoken, Constance, the first Bennett sister to enter motion pictures, appeared in New York-produced silent movies before a meeting with Samuel Goldwyn led to her Hollywood debut in Cytherea 1924 She abandoned a burgeoning career in silents for marriage to Philip Plant in 1925, but resumed her film career after their divorce, with the advent of talking pictures 1929, and with her delicate blonde features and glamorous fashion style, she quickly became a popular film star

In the early 1930s, Bennett was frequently among the top actresses named in audience popularity and box-office polls For a short time, she was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood So successful was Bennett during this time, that RKO, Bennett's home studio at the time, controlled the careers of actresses Ann Harding and Helen Twelvetrees in a similar manner, hoping to duplicate Bennett's success3 In 1931, a short-lived contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer earned her $300,000 for two movies which included The Easiest Way and made her one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood Warner Brothers paid her the all-time high salary of $30,000 a week for Bought! in 19314 Richard Bennett, her father, was also cast in this film The next year she moved to RKO, where she acted in What Price Hollywood 1932, directed by George Cukor, an ironic and at the same time tragic behind-the-scenes looks at the old Hollywood studio system, in which she portrayed waitress Mary Evans, who becomes a movie star Lowell Sherman co-starred as the film director who discovers her, and Neil Hamilton as the wealthy playboy she marries It was a critical and box office hit at the time of its release The film Morning Glory had been written with Bennett in mind for the lead role, but producer Pandro S Berman gave the role to Katharine Hepburn, who won an Academy Award for her performance

Bennett next showed her versatility in the likes of Our Betters 1933, Bed of Roses 1933 with Pert Kelton, After Tonight 1933 co-starring with future husband Gilbert Roland, The Affairs of Cellini 1934, After Office Hours 1935 with Clark Gable, the original Topper 1937, in a career standout as Marian Kerby opposite Cary Grant, a role she repeated in the 1939 sequel, Topper Takes a Trip, the ultimate madcap family comedy Merrily We Live 1938 and Two-Faced Woman 1941, supporting Greta Garbo

By the 1940s, Bennett was working less frequently in film but was in demand in both radio and theatre She had her own program, Constance Bennett Calls on You, on ABC radio in 1945-19465 Shrewd investments had made her a wealthy woman, and she founded a cosmetics and clothing company

Personal lifeedit

Bennett and her daughters, with a portrait of herself and her son 1944

Bennett was married five times and had four children In 1921, Bennett eloped with Chester Hirst Moorehead of Chicago, the son of a surgeon The marriage was annulled in 1923 In 1925, she eloped again with millionaire socialite Philip Morgan Plant in 1925; they divorced in 1929 In 1932, Bennett returned from Europe with a three-year-old child, whom she claimed to have adopted and named Peter Bennett Plant In 1942, however, during a battle over a large trust fund established to benefit any descendants of her former husband, Bennett announced that her adopted son actually was her natural child by Plant, born after the divorce and kept hidden in order to ensure that the child's biological father did not get custody During the court hearings, the actress told her former mother-in-law and her husband's widow that "if she got to the witness stand she would give a complete account of her life with Plant The matter was settled out of court"67

In 1931, Bennett made headlines when she married one of Gloria Swanson's former husbands, Henri le Bailly, the Marquis de La Coudraye de La Falaise, a French nobleman and film director Bennett and de la Falaise founded Bennett Pictures Corp and co-produced two films which were the last filmed in Hollywood in the two-strip Technicolor process, Legong: Dance of the Virgins 1935 filmed in Bali, and Kilou the Killer Tiger 1936, filmed in Indochina They were divorced in Reno, Nevada in 19408

Bennett's fourth marriage was to actor Gilbert Roland They were married in 1941 and had two daughters, Lorinda and Christina aka Gyl They were divorced in 1946 Later that year, Bennett married for the fifth and final time to US Air Force Colonel later Brigadier General John Theron Coulter After her marriage, she concentrated her efforts on providing relief entertainment to US troops still stationed in Europe, winning military honors for her services Bennet and Coulter remained married until her death in 1965

Later career and deathedit

She had a major supporting role in Warner Bros's The Unsuspected 1947 opposite Claude Rains, in which she played the program director who helps prove that Rains is guilty of murder She made no films from the early 1950s until 1965 when she made a comeback in the film Madame X released posthumously in 1966 playing Lana Turner's mother-in-law Shortly after filming was completed, on July 25, 1965, Bennett collapsed and died from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 60 In recognition of her military contributions, and as the wife of Theron John Coulter, who had achieved the rank of brigadier general, she was buried in Arlington National Cemetery Coulter died in 1995 and was buried with her

Bennett has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to motion pictures, at 6250 Hollywood Boulevard, a short distance from the star of her sister, Joan

Filmographyedit

Silent films
Year Title Role Notes
1916 The Valley of Decision Unborn soul Lost
1922 Reckless Youth Chorus Girl
1922 Evidence Edith Lost
1922 What's Wrong with the Women Elise Bascom Lost
1924 Cytherea Annette Sherman Lost
1924 Into the Net Madge Clayton, his sister Lost
1925 The Goose Hangs High Lois Ingals Lost
1925 Code of the West Georgie May Lost
1925 My Son Betty Smith Lost
1925 My Wife and I Aileen Alton Lost
1925 The Goose Woman Hazel Woods
1925 Wandering Fires Guerda Anthony
1925 Sally, Irene and Mary Sally
1925 The Pinch Hitter Abby Nettleton Lost
1926 Married Marcia Livingston
Sound films
Year Title Role Notes
1929 Rich People Connie Hayden
1929 This Thing Called Love Ann Marvin Lost
1930 Son of the Gods Allana
1930 Three Faces East Frances Hawtree / Z-1
1930 Common Clay Ellen Neal
1930 Sin Takes a Holiday Sylvia Brenner
1931 The Easiest Way Laura Murdock
1931 Born to Love Doris Kendall
1931 The Common Law Valerie West
1931 Bought! Stephanie Dale
1932 Screen Snapshots Herself Short Subject
1932 Lady with a Past Venice Muir
1932 What Price Hollywood Mary Evans
1932 Two Against the World Miss Adele 'Dell' Hamilton
1932 Rockabye Judy Carroll
1933 Our Betters Lady Pearl Grayston
1933 Bed of Roses Lorry Evans
1933 After Tonight Carla Vanirska, aka K-14 and Karen Schöntag
1934 Moulin Rouge Helen Hall / Raquel
1934 The Affairs of Cellini Duchess of Florence
1934 Outcast Lady Iris
1935 After Office Hours Sharon Norwood
1935 Legong Producer only
1935 Starlit Days at the Lido Herself Short subject
1936 Everything Is Thunder Anna von Stucknadel
1936 Ladies in Love Yoli Haydn
1937 Daily Beauty Rituals Herself Short subject
1937 Topper Marion Kerby
1938 Merrily We Live Jerry Kilbourne
1938 Service de Luxe Helen Murphy
1938 Topper Takes a Trip Marion Kerby
1939 Tail Spin Gerry Lester
1940 Escape to Glory Christine Blaine
1941 Law of the Tropics Joan Madison
1941 Picture People No 2: Hollywood Sports Herself Short subject
1941 Two-Faced Woman Griselda Vaughn
1942 Wild Bill Hickok Rides Belle Andrews
1942 Hedda Hopper's Hollywood No 5 Herself Short subject
1942 Sin Town Kye Allen
1942 Madame Spy Joan Bannister
1945 Paris Underground Kitty de Mornay
1946 Centennial Summer Zenia Lascalles
1947 The Unsuspected Jane Moynihan
1948 Smart Woman Paula Rogers
1948 Angel on the Amazon Dr Karen Lawrence
1951 As Young as You Feel Lucille McKinley
1954 It Should Happen To You Guest Panelist
1966 Madame X Estelle Released posthumously

Referencesedit

  1. ^ a b Kellow, Brian 2004 The Bennetts: An Acting Family Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky ISBN 978-0813123295 
  2. ^ Downey, Phil, A Black, Jewish Officer in the Civil War, Jewish-American History Documentation Foundation Retrieved May 8, 2013
  3. ^ Leading Ladies 
  4. ^ The Warner Bros Story - Clive Hirschhorn p 106; ISBN 0-517-53834-2
  5. ^ Dunning, John 1998 On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio Revised ed New York, NY: Oxford University Press p 180 ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3 
  6. ^ September 14, 1942, Time
  7. ^ November 29, 1943, Time
  8. ^ "Famous people divorced in Reno new" renodivorcehistoryorg Retrieved 2015-10-15 

External linksedit

  • Biography portal
  • Constance Bennett Website
  • Constance Bennett on Internet Movie Database
  • Constance Bennett at the TCM Movie Database
  • Constance Bennett at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Constance Bennett at AllMovie
  • Constance Bennett at Find a Grave
  • Constance Bennett Photo Gallery
  • Photographs and literature

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