Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Constance Campbell Bennett (October 22, 1904 - July 24, 1965) was a US actress known for more for her elegant persona than her acting talents. Largely underrated today, Bennett was one of Hollywood's most luminous stars, delivering amusing, madcap, and occasionally arch performances that belie her ornamental reputation.
Born in New York City, she was the daughter of actor Richard Bennett and actress Adrienne Morrison , and the eldest sister of actresses Barbara and Joan Bennett. Independent, cultured, ironic and outspoken, Constance, first Bennett sister to enter films, appeared in New York-produced silents before a chance 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; divorced, she resumed her film career with the advent of talking pictures (1929), and with her delicate blonde features and glamorous fashion style, quickly became a popular film star.
She also captured numerous headlines in 1932, when she married one of Gloria Swanson's former husbands, Henri le Bailly, the Marquis de La Coudraye de La Falaise (1898-1972), a French nobleman and film director. They were divorced in 1940.
A 1931 contract with Warner Brothers Studios earned her $300 000 for two movies and made her one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. 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 gave her finest performance. In this movie she is a star-struck waitress, named Mary Evans, who manages to make a good impression on a prominent film director (played by Lowell Sherman ); with his patronage she became a movie star. While the director have some serious alcoholic problems, she marries a wealthy playboy (played by Neil Hamilton), who genuinely loves his wife but is jealous of the demands made on her by her career. So he leave her, but not before Mary has been impregnated. She began to turning her attentions to her mentor, but it is too late: he kills himself in her bedroom. Hoping to heal her emotional wounds, Mary flees to Paris with her child, where she is reunited with his contrite husband.
Then Bennett showed her versatility in the likes of Our Betters (1933), The Affairs of Cellini (1934), After Office Hours (1935), Topper (1937, in a career standout as ghostess-with-the-mostest Marian Kirby, a role she repeated in the 1939 sequel, Topper Takes a Trip ), with Cary Grant, Merrily We Live (1938) and Two-Faced Woman (1941, in a hilarious performance supporting Greta Garbo).
She was a close friend of Gloria Morgan-Vanderbilt, and despite the potential harm to her career, stood by Vanderbilt all through her notorious 1934 child custody trial. She married her third husband, the actor Gilbert Roland in 1941 and had three children with him, before they divorced in 1946. By this time she was working less frequently in film but was in demand in both radio and theatre. Her shrewd investments had made her a very wealthy woman, and she founded a cosmetics and clothing company that added to her wealth, but Bennett enjoyed being a celebrity and so continued to work.
In June 1946 the 41-year-old actress married US Air Force Colonel John Theron Coulter , who was then 34. After her marriage, she concentrated her efforts on providing relief entertainment to US troops still stationed in Europe, winning military honors for her services. In recognition of her military contributions, and as the wife of Coulter, who had by then achieved the rank of Brigadier General, she was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Coulter died in 1995 and was buried with her.
She made no films from the early 1950s until 1965 when she made a comeback in the film Madame X (released posthumously in 1966), still looking chic while playing Lana Turner's mother. Shortly after filming was completed, Bennett collapsed and died from a cerebral hemorrhage.
Constance 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.
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