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Constance Bennett Overview:

Legendary actress, Constance Bennett, was born Constance Campbell Bennett on Oct 22, 1904 in New York City, NY. Bennett died at the age of 60 on Jul 24, 1965 in Fort Dix, NJ and was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Early Life and Career

Constance Campbell Bennett was born on October 22, 1904 in New York City. Her father, Richard, was a stage actor of some fame who eventually went into the film business and her mother, Adrienne, was a publishing agent who also ventured into acting for sometime. Her childhood was one of privilege and comfort as she and her three sisters went on to attend Miss Chandor's Prep School in Manhattan's upper east side. It was there that the young Constance began to take an interest in acting, hoping to follow in her parent's footsteps. She was then sent to study at the prestigious Mrs. Merrill's Boarding School for Girls just north in upstate New York. She soon made her stage debut with a small role in the play Everyman. In 1916 Constance, along with her sisters Joan, Barbara, and Blanche, all made their screen debuts in the silent film The Valley of Decision, written by their father. Although Constance was trained as a child to grow up as part of New York's High Society, her rebellious and unruly behavior put an end to that when, at age 16, she eloped and married. The marriage only lasted a year before being annulled.

After graduating High School, Bennett remained focused on becoming an actress. She began taking small roles in off Broadway theaters as well as a few New York produced silent films such as Reckless Youth, Evidence, and Into the Net. In 1924 the young actress happened to meet Samuel Goldwyn, who cast her in Bennett's debut Hollywood film Cytherea. She quickly began accruing large supporting roles in films such as The Goose Hangs High, Code of the West, and Sally, Irene, and Mary. However, in 1926 she briefly abandoned her career when she married her second husband, Phillip Plant. When the pair divorced in 1929, Bennett immediately went back to Hollywood, making her talkie debut with 1929's Rich People. Thanks to her pleasant speaking voice, Bennett's career immediately took off at a time when so many others faltered. She had a strong of hits ranging from the comedy Sin Takes a Holiday to the drama Common Clay. She then leveraged those hits and signed a 30,000 a week contract with Warner Brothers Studios for the film Bought.

Hollywood Success

In 1932 Bennett moved to RKO studios in order to star in the George Cukor show-business drama What Price Hollywood?, which is widely considered to inspiration for A Star is Born. In the film Bennett plays an aspiring waitress whose career takes off when she meets a friendly but alcoholic Hollywood producer. Despite the fact the film lost money at the box office, critics still praised Bennett's performance. She continued to act in string of successful films. In 1933 she appeared with frequent co-star, as well as on-again-off-again boyfriend, Joel McCrea. She then appeared in a string of fairly successful films, such as Bed of Roses, The Affairs of Cellini, Outcast Lady and After Office Hours. Although she never ascended to highest echelons of Hollywood, during the 1930s she remained a considerable draw and strong Hollywood personality, known for her brazen outlook and attitude towards life. 

In 1937 Bennett starred in what is probably her best-remembered credit in the fantasy comedy Topper opposite Cary Grant. In the film Bennett and Grant play a witty, fun-loving married couple who's zany antics get them killed in car accident. They remain earth as ghosts who teach a wealthy, boring Wall Street Broker , Topper, how to liven up his life. The film was great box-office hit and gave great reviews to both its leading stars. The next year she reunited with Topper director, Norman Z. McLeod for the comedy Merrily We Live. That year she also starred in the Topper sequel Topper Takes a Trip reuniting with costars Ronald Young, Billie Burke, and Alan Mowbray in Topper Takes a Trip. She continued to appear in successful film into the 1940s. She appeared as the leas in comedies such as Tail Spin and Escape to Glory. In 1941 she played the supporting character to Greta Garbo in the comedy Two-Faced Woman with many agreeing her perfect timing upstaged Garbo herself in many of their shared scenes.

After Hollywood

With the 1940s in full swing, Bennett's film career began to decline. Despite positive reviews for Two-Faced Women, her film career began to stagnate, as she was constantly cast in second-rate material such as Wild Bill Hickok Rides and Sin Town. In 1942 she began working in radio, dedicating more and more time the meeting. In 1945 she hosted her own radio talk show, Constance Bennett Calls You, which lasted a year. She then spent the next couple years entertaining the troops. She ventured behind the camera for the film Paris Underground, acting as both the films producer and star. She continued to act on the big screen with films such as Angel on the Amazon by the 1950s Bennett began working in mostly radio and television. In 1951 she made her TV debut with an appearance in Cameo Theatre. During this time she also accrued a significant fortune with a venture into the cosmetics business. In 1954 she made her only stab at Broadway with the play A Date with April. The play only lasted 13 performances. She continued to make appearances on shows like The Philip Morris Playhouse, Suspense, and It Should Happen to You. By the 1960s Bennett for the most part abandoned show business. She planned a comeback with a supporting part in what would turn out to be her screen appearance with the film Madame X. Shortly after competing the principle production; however, Bennett suffered from a lethal cerebral hemorrhage. Constance Bennett died on July 24th, 1965 in Fort Dix, New Jersey. She was 60 years old.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).

HONORS and AWARDS:

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She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. Bennett was never nominated for an Academy Award.

BlogHub Articles:

On Blu-ray: and Brian Aherne in Merrily We Live (1938)

By KC on Sep 17, 2019 From Classic Movies

The lightly silly screwball comedy Merrily We Live (1938) was a pleasant revelation for me. Set in the world of the super wealthy, it centers on a family that lives in chaos, much like the brood in My Man Godfrey (1936). While this Hal Roach production isn’t quite as witty as Godfrey, it’... Read full article


Pre-Code on DVD: in Our Betters (1933)

By KC on May 7, 2019 From Classic Movies

I’m a big fan of pre-code , with her razor sharp hip bones and saucy quips. She doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her contribution to the lively adult-themed flicks of that time. While Our Betters (1933) is not the best of those films, Bennett is reliably excellent as... Read full article


Wild Bill Hickok Rides (1942) with and Bruce Cabot

By Orson De Welles on Jun 25, 2015 From Classic Film Freak

Share This! WILD! That’s How He Lived! That’s How He Loved! That’s How He Fought! Though not in the class of a B picture, it is almost assured that no one came to the set to make 1942’s Wild Bill Hickok Rides with any delusions that they were making Gone with the Wind. What t... Read full article


Wild Bill Hickok Rides (1942) with and Bruce Cabot

By Orson De Welles on Jun 25, 2015 From Classic Film Freak

Share This! WILD! That’s How He Lived! That’s How He Loved! That’s How He Fought! Though not in the class of a B picture, it is almost assured that no one came to the set to make 1942’s Wild Bill Hickok Rides with any delusions that they were making Gone with the Wind. What t... Read full article


All in the Family: Joan Bennett and

By Annmarie Gatti on Oct 22, 2013 From Classic Movie Hub Blog

Sisters Joan Bennett and ? ?was?born Constance Campbell Bennett?on October 22, 1904 in New York City.?Her elder sister, actress Joan Bennett, was born Joan Geraldine Bennett?on?February 27,?1910?in?Palisades, New Jersey.? Middle sister, actress Barbara Bennett was a... Read full article


See all articles

Constance Bennett Quotes:

Maximillan 'Max' Carey: Let me give you a tip about Hollywood. Always keep your sense of humor then you can't miss.
Mary Evans: Don't worry about me. I got a great sense of humor.
Maximillan 'Max' Carey: Good. I'll give you my private telephone number. It's... oh well I've forgotten it, but it doesn't matter. You'll find it listed in the book under the name of my Chinese cook, Hip Sing Lung. You think I'm screwy don't you?
Mary Evans: No. I know you're screwy.


Minnie: You don't look so bad yourself for a corpse.
Lorry Evans: A corpse!
Minnie: You were supposed to be drown and you don't even look damp.
Lorry Evans: Well, I got myself resurrected.
Minnie: Well, you done a good job while you was at it.
[looking around at Lorry's opulent apartment]
Minnie: Does he own the mint?
Lorry Evans: No, but he's got an option on it.


Miss DuPont, the Interviewer: Of course you know Miss Evans, I'm writing a series of articles on the love lives of picture stars and I want your love life for the April number.
Lonny Borden: You want what?
Miss DuPont, the Interviewer: Now of course you don't mind answering just a few intimate questions. Of course I know you married for love. But was it the thoughtful reasoning kind or was it the blind passionate ummmmph kind?
Mary Evans: Well I don't know. I suppose it was the...
Lonny Borden: Well I should say it was the, uh, ummmmph kind!
Miss DuPont, the Interviewer: That's good! Now are you planning on having a family?
Mary Evans: I hope to some day.
Miss DuPont, the Interviewer: Oh how sweet. How interesting. Have you seperate bedrooms?
Mary Evans: No.
Miss DuPont, the Interviewer: Oh I must have a photograph of your bedroom! Now Miss Evans, tell me, just how far do you think a wife should go to keep a husband's love?
Mary Evans: Well I know I'd go a long way myself.
Miss DuPont, the Interviewer: And what do you think a husband should do to keep a wife's love, Mr. Borden?
Lonny Borden: I really haven't the faintest idea. Suppose you tell me!
Miss DuPont, the Interviewer: Oh oh oh. I've never been a husband. That reminds me. Have you a photograph showing your marvelous physique?
Lonny Borden: No but I have my appendix in the other room in a bottle. Perhaps you'd like to photograph that!
[Lonny gets up and exits]
Miss DuPont, the Interviewer: Has he gone to get it?
Mary Evans: No, uh, I, I don't think so, ummm.


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Constance Bennett Facts

She sang with her own voice in films, on stage, and in a nightclub act 1956-62 in which she parodied early rock-n-roll.

Her stage acting debut: Noel Coward's "Easy Virtue", 1940.

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