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.
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.
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:.
and Brian Aherne top the cast in "Merrily We Live"By Stephen Reginald on Dec 4, 2022 From Classic Movie Man
and Brian Aherne top the cast in "Merrily We Live" Merrily We Live (1938) is an American screwball comedy directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring and Brian Aherne. The supporting cast includes Ann Dvorak, Bonita Granville, Billie Burke, Tom Brown, Alan Mowb... Read full article
What Price Hollywood? (1932): StarringBy 4 Star Film Fan on May 30, 2022 From 4 Star Films
Here is a film so completely attuned to Hollywood celebrity and fandom in its heyday. We open on Hollywood fashion magazines full of stockings and lipstick, and glossies of Greta Garbo & Clark Gable. Then, Mary Evans () pushes her retractable bed into the wall to head off to her... Read full article
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 CabotBy 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
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Marion Kerby: Why don't you stop being a mummy for a few minutes and come to life? Of course, there's nothing wrong with being a mummy if you had any fun getting that way.
Cosmo Topper: But I... I didn't, you see.
Marion Kerby: No, I can tell that by the way you're staring at my knees.
Arthur Fenwick: You're my guiding star. My ideal! I don't know what I'd do if you failed me. I don't think I could live if I ever found you weren't what I think you are.
[bends to kiss her hand]
Lady Pearl Saunders Grayston: [looking down at his bent head] You shan't, if I can help it.
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