An Acting Family
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Download PDF (37.8 KB)
When I was a student at Oregon State University, the English Department sponsored an every-Friday-night International Film Series. There I first encountered many marvelous foreign-language films of the period, including Bread and Chocolate, Spirit of the Beehive, Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000, and Seven Beauties. ...
Download PDF (39.3 KB)
âThere are only three great actors still alive in America today, âRichard Bennett told a reporter in the early 1930s. âMaude Adams, Feodor Chaliapin, and Lionel Barrymore. Four if you count me!â Bennett could afford to be immodestâat the time he made that comment, he had racked up a record of achievement that few other ...
Chapter One. 1870â1900
Download PDF (69.9 KB)
Long before he was famous for being the father of Constance and Joan Bennett, Richard Bennett had been famous for the intensity of his stage performances, his heavy drinking, his brushes with the law, his long-winded curtain speeches, and perhaps most of all, for his incendiary temper. He unleashed it freely and often, until it became ...
Chapter Two. 1900â1904
Download PDF (52.2 KB)
From the time they met during rehearsals of A Royal Family, Mabel Morrison was one woman Richard Bennett consistently failed to dominate. No doubt this first-generation actor was somewhat intimidated by Mabelâs distinguished theatrical pedigree. Her father, Lewis Morrison, was one of the most successful actor-managers of ...
Chapter Three. 1904â1914
Download PDF (81.5 KB)
Throughout her career, Constance Bennett delighted in confusing the public, friends, and even family about the exact year of her birth. She carried it to extremes, as if it were somehow a point of honor. After they had both become successful Hollywood stars, Joan often remarked that Constance had started out the oldest sister, ...
Chapter Four. 1914â1920
Download PDF (81.3 KB)
With Damaged Goods, Richard had overturned conventional notions about what American theatrical audiences would accept. For his next Broadway vehicle, he chose another Brieux play, Maternity. Although it too dealt with a risky subjectâlegalized abortionâit made its way to the stage with few obstacles. Again, Richard ...
Chapter Five. 1920â1924
Download PDF (88.9 KB)
In the summer of 1920, after two years in Greenwich Village, the Bennetts moved to a large apartment at 950 Park Avenue, at Eighty-second Street. It was the grandest address they had had up to that time, and as tangible a sign as any of Richardâs increasing professional stature. Barbara and Joan were enrolled in Miss Hopkinsâs ...
Chapter Six. 1925â1927
Download PDF (60.7 KB)
By mid-1925, Richard had reached the peak of his career, while hist wo oldest daughters were just beginning to make their presence known. Despite, or because of, Philip Plantâs continued objections, Constance seemed at last to have settled on an acting career. Since Cytherea, she had gone from one film to another, appearing in a ...
Chapter Seven. 1927â1929
Download PDF (66.4 KB)
Jack Foxâs job with the Stock Exchange was short-lived. One nigh the told Joan that a hot theatrical prospect awaited him in London, the kind of opportunity he had been waiting for and that was guaranteed to launch him successfully in the business at last. Joan was skeptical, but at the last minute weakened and let him go, while she ...
Chapter Eight. 1929â1930
Download PDF (60.4 KB)
On January 20, 1929, Sarah Savina Armstrong, a twenty-eight-year-old Belfast housemaid, checked into Londonâs Royal Free Hospital. The following day, she gave birth to a robust and beautiful boy, whom she named Dennis Arthur Armstrong. The babyâs father was Arthur Hewitt, an English laborer, whom Miss ...
Chapter Nine. 1930â1931
Download PDF (89.0 KB)
While Constance and Joan flourished in Hollywood, Richard wandered around New York, complaining to anyone who would listen that Broadway was in its death throes. The Depression had unquestionably caused business to decline. A total of 239 productions in 1929â1930 fell to 187 the following season, and the numbers ...
Chapter Ten. 1931â1932
Download PDF (69.7 KB)
Joanâs years as a contract actress with Fox Films were busy and prolific. She worked steadily, both for the studio and on loan-out, but it is doubtful whether any young actress was ever stuck with such a miserable run of films. In the next two years, she would complete ten pictures, nearly all of them worthless. Fox tried her ...
Chapter Eleven. 1933â1935
Download PDF (986.5 KB)
Early in 1932, Joan had rented a two-story, white stucco, Spanish-style house at 1121 Tower Road, in Benedict Canyon, and Gene joined her there. Diana, who had never known her own father, was delighted to have Gene in her life and immediately took to calling him Daddy. Every night, when Diana was ready for bed, Gene drew ...
Chapter Twelve. 1934â1937
Download PDF (82.6 KB)
When he first came to Hollywood in 1931, Richard had tried to give the impression that filmmaking would fill the void left in his creative life after he had turned his back on Broadway. By 1934, he could no longer preserve this illusion, for himself or anyone else. With the exception of Arrowsmith and If I Had a Million, a 1932 ...
Chapter Thirteen. 1937â1940
Download PDF (109.9 KB)
Following her departure from MGM, Constance waited around for another decent contract offer to materialize. When none did, she signed a two-picture deal with Gaumont-British, a studio known for its Alfred Hitchcock thrillers and Jessie Matthews musicals. The first film was a World War I drama called, Everything Is Thunder, adapted ...
Chapter Fourteen. 1941â1943
Download PDF (105.3 KB)
With her retirement from acting and marriage to Morton Downey in 1929, Barbara had chosen her place out of the sunâseemingly, without regret. Her quiet life as a Connecticut housewife and mother had given her a distinction all her own: while Constance and Joan had each had three husbands by the time they turned thirty, the ...
Chapter Fifteen. 1944
Download PDF (58.0 KB)
There is a scrap of dialogue in Robert Wiseâs 1947 thriller Born to Kill that might serve as an epitaph for the film noir genre as a whole. The picture concerns a divorcÃ©e, Helen Brent (Claire Trevor), who must confront her own corrupt nature when she falls for Sam Wilde (Lawrence Tierney) whom she knows to be a psychopathic ...
Chapter Sixteen. 1945â1947
Download PDF (97.9 KB)
The Woman in the Window signaled the beginning of Joanâs most rewarding period as an actress. She always gave Lang all the credit for the fact that Hollywood suddenly began to take her more seriously. No matter that he obsessively dictated every detail of her performances. If being treated like a puppet was the price of doing ...
Chapter Seventeen. 1948
Download PDF (73.4 KB)
On July 4, 1948, Joan and Walterâs second daughter, Shelley, was born. To outsiders, the Wangersâ lives seemed satisfying and complete: the independent producer, married to the independent star, both at the peak of their careers and respected members of the Hollywood establishment, at a time when much of the industry ...
Chapter Eighteen. 1949â1950
Download PDF (78.7 KB)
By 1949, Walter was again desperate for a hit, and he hoped Tulsa and Reign of Terror (also known as The Black Book) would change his luck. As always, he earned the respect of his colleagues by researching his films meticulously: no detail of the sets or costumes escaped his attention. But with the changes in Hollywood at the ...
Chapter Nineteen. 1951â1952
Download PDF (83.3 KB)
One of the sobering truths faced by many of the biggest stars of Hollywoodâs golden age was that their time at the top would not last very long without extraordinary luck or determination. The 1950s were particularly trying times for actresses. A few were lucky: Katharine Hepburn was able to continue finding scripts ideally ...
Chapter Twenty. 1953â1958
Download PDF (893.9 KB)
By early 1953, the Coulters had been transferred to Washington, D.C., where John was to work on the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project. They rented a three-story brick townhouse at 1513 Northwest Thirtieth Street in the affluent Georgetown neighborhood. After the years of relative isolation in Germany, Constance ...
Chapter Twenty-One. 1959â1965
Download PDF (90.0 KB)
Following the demise of Love Me Little, Joan began taking serious steps toward getting out of California altogether. The only Hollywood offers she received were occasional guest shots on televisionâhardly reason enough to stay. There was plenty of reason to relocate to New York: the difficulties of the past few years seemed more ...
Chapter Twenty-Two. 1966â1971
Download PDF (67.8 KB)
Late in 1965, Joan left Ninety-sixth Street for a new apartment at 150 East Seventy-second Street, just east of Lexington Avenue. With the help of interior designer Airey Mays, she turned it into another bright and colorful reminder of her years in California. The foyer sported white-and-green wallpaper in a kind of trellis pattern, with ...
Chapter Twenty-Three. 1972â1990
Download PDF (70.7 KB)
âScarsdale,â said Diana Anderson, âis where you go to die.â Joan would not have assessed it so harshly; nonetheless, it was clear to many friends and family members that moving to Westchester County was not the easiest transition for her to make. âShe was not cut out to be a suburban housewife,â said Melinda Markey. ...
Download PDF (72.2 KB)
Selected Television Appearances
Download PDF (30.9 KB)
Download PDF (89.3 KB)
Download PDF (38.8 KB)
Download PDF (83.7 KB)
Page Count: 576
Publication Year: 2004