Constance Bennett (October 22, 1904 – July 24, 1965) was an American actress who gained fame during the era of classic Hollywood. Hailing from an acting family, she was the daughter of stage and silent film star Richard Bennett and actress Adrienne Morrison, and the elder sister of actresses Barbara and Joan Bennett.
Early Career: Bennett's career began with a small role in the silent film "Cytherea" (1924). In 1925, she headed to Europe where she gained more experience on the stage and in film production. Upon her return to the United States, she played in a number of silent movies, but it was the advent of sound in cinema that boosted her popularity.
Rise to Fame: Bennett’s breakthrough came in the early 1930s, when she starred in a succession of films that leveraged her urbane style and sophistication. Among her notable early talkie films were "Common Clay" (1930) and "The Easiest Way" (1931). She soon established herself as one of the leading ladies of her time.
Peak Career: Her peak period was in the 1930s, with a series of commercial successes. Bennett showed versatility by playing varied roles in comedies, romances, and dramas. One of her most famous roles was in "Topper" (1937), a comedy film where she played opposite Cary Grant as a fun-loving socialite who becomes a ghost which was popular enough to spawn sequels.
In addition to her acting career, Bennett was a savvy businesswoman and one of the first actresses to create her own production company. She also signed a then-unprecedented deal with independent producer Walter Wanger that offered her a salary of $300,000 plus profits for two movies, a large sum at the time.
Later Career and Personal Life: While her career slowed down by the 1940s, she continued to appear in films and on stage. She later moved on to television roles in the 1950s and 1960s.
Bennett was known as much for her glamorous lifestyle as her acting. She was married five times, including to millionaire socialite Philip Morgan Plant and actor Gilbert Roland, with whom she had two daughters, Lorinda and Gyl.
Bennett was active in the American Women's Voluntary Services during World War II, contributing to the war effort by using her celebrity status to help raise funds.
Legacy: Constance Bennett passed away on July 24, 1965, from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 60. Despite not achieving the lasting fame of some of her contemporaries, she left behind an impressive body of work that includes over 50 films. Her mix of elegance, wit, and talent ensured her a place in the annals of Hollywood golden-age cinema.
For those interested in diving deeper into her filmography or learning more about her influence on early Hollywood, an examination of resources like TCM’s biography page for Constance Bennett or her IMDb profile would be valuable. Here are a couple of links for further information: