The Bennetts: An Acting Family

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University Press of Kentucky, Nov 26, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 576 pages

“An engrossing new page turner” about one of old Hollywood’s royal families: “theater people don't get more interesting, and it's a true tale well told" (Hollywood Reporter).
In the early 1930s, Constance Bennett was the highest paid star in Hollywood, famous for dramatic roles before reinventing herself in the classic comedy Topper, starring opposite Cary Grant. Her sister Joan played the femme fatale in films like Scarlet Street and also starred in lighter films like Father of the Bride. Though their names are not well known today, the Bennett family is one of the most storied families in Hollywood history.
The saga begins with Richard Bennett, who left small-town Indiana to become one of the bright lights of the New York stage during the early twentieth century. In time, however, Richard's fame was eclipsed by that of his two acting daughters. But the Bennett family also includes another sister, Barbara, whose promising beginnings as a dancer gave way to a turbulent marriage to singer Morton Downey and a steady decline into alcoholism.
Constance and Joan were among Hollywood's biggest stars, but their personal lives were anything but serene. In 1943, Constance became entangled in a highly publicized court battle with the family of her millionaire ex-husband, and in 1951, Joan's husband, producer Walter Wanger, shot her lover in broad daylight, sparking one of the biggest Hollywood scandals of the 1950s.


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