Joan Bennett


Actor
Joan Bennett

About

Birth Place
Palisades, New Jersey, USA
Born
February 27, 1910
Died
December 07, 1990
Cause of Death
Heart Attack

Biography

Personable, extremely pretty and prolific star of a wide range of films in the 1930s and 40s. Bennett began her film career as a demure blonde ingenue (e.g. in George Cukor's "Little Women" 1933, William K. Howard's breathtaking "The Trial of Vivienne Ware" 1932). Raoul Walsh's delightful "Me and My Gal" (1932), though, did give her an offbeat chance to indulge in sharp wisecracking. Ear...

Photos & Videos

There's Always Tomorrow - Movie Posters
Scarlet Street - Movie Posters
The Woman in the Window - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

John Marion Fox
Husband
Married c. 1926; divorced c. 1928.
Gene Markey
Husband
Producer, author, screenwriter. Married in 1932; divorced in 1937.
Walter Wanger
Husband
Producer. Married in 1940; divorced in 1965.
David Wilde
Husband
Film and theater critic, publisher. Married from 1973 until her death.

Bibliography

"The Bennett Playbill"
Joan Bennett with Lois Kibee (1970)

Notes

"I don't think much of most of the films I made. But being a movie star was something I liked very much." --Joan Bennett in 1986. (NEW YORK POST, December 10, 1990)

"If it happened today, I'd be a sensation. I'd be wanted by all studios for all pictures." --Joan Bennett in a 1981, discussing the 1951 scandal (NEW YORK TIMES obituary, December 9, 1990

Biography

Personable, extremely pretty and prolific star of a wide range of films in the 1930s and 40s. Bennett began her film career as a demure blonde ingenue (e.g. in George Cukor's "Little Women" 1933, William K. Howard's breathtaking "The Trial of Vivienne Ware" 1932). Raoul Walsh's delightful "Me and My Gal" (1932), though, did give her an offbeat chance to indulge in sharp wisecracking. Early on her acting abilities seemed a bit modest, but Bennett's warm speaking voice and quietly piquant charm gave her considerable appeal as a screen personality.

Gregory LaCava's pioneering study of mental health problems, "Private Worlds" (1935), gave Bennett an unusually good acting opportunity, and the sensitivity and vulnerability she brought to the role showed the increasing resonance she was bringing to her screen work. If she never did possess the acting bravura of Hollywood's most intense dramatic divas, Joan Bennett was nonetheless intriguing, likable and highly watchable, her sometimes aloof, serene presence highly effective at suggesting muffled passion. In 1938 she followed the trend of going brunette and parting one's hair in the middle (inspired by Hedy Lamarr's strong first Hollywood impression), and the look stuck. "Trade Winds" (1938) was an enjoyable Tay Garnett romp, and "The Housekeeper's Daughter" (1939) gave Bennett a good Hal Roach comedy, but she soon developed into a sultry, brunette fixture who proved outstanding in several 1940s films noirs. Sometimes sympathetic, sometimes a femme fatale, Bennett acted in a quartet of Fritz Lang thrillers, "Manhunt" (1941), "Woman in the Window" (1944), "Scarlet Street" (1945) and "Secret Beyond the Door" (1948), which represent some of her best work in film.

Bennett also appeared in a wide variety of other films during this time, ranging from the semi-musical period drama, "Nob Hill" (1945) to the interesting Hemingway adaptation "The Macomber Affair" (1947), which traded in on her more seductive noir roles. As middle age approached, Bennett shifted to the role of witty and nurturing mother in Vincente Minnelli's comedies "Father of the Bride" (1950) and "Father's Little Dividend" (1951). She was also especially fine as a mother whose family is jeopardized in Max Ophuls's unusual noir, "The Reckless Moment" (1949).

Her career was short-circuited in 1951 after her husband, producer Walter Wanger, shot her agent, Jennings Lang, accusing the latter of being a "homewrecker." She was offered few film roles after that (Douglas Sirk's "There's Always Tomorrow" 1956, in which she supported Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray), though she returned to the stage in several national tours. Later in life Bennett could be seen in a leading role on TV on the highly enjoyable cult Gothic soap opera, "Dark Shadows" (1966-71) and her last film appearance was in Dario Argento's cult horror film, "Suspiria" (1976).

Daughter of famed stage (and occasionally screen) actor Richard Bennett, sister of fellow film star Constance Bennett, and also sister of actress Barbara Bennett; she was married to Wanger (her second husband) from 1940 to 1965.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Spencer Tracy Legacy (1986)
Divorce Wars: A Love Story (1982)
Adele Burgess
This House Possessed (1981)
Suddenly, Love (1978)
Suspiria (1977)
The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972)
Gidget Gets Married (1972)
House of Dark Shadows (1970)
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard
Desire in the Dust (1960)
Mrs. Marquand
There's Always Tomorrow (1956)
Marion Groves
Navy Wife (1956)
Peg Blain
We're No Angels (1955)
Amelie Ducotel
Highway Dragnet (1954)
Mrs. H. G. Cummings
Angels One Five (1952)
Waafs
The Guy Who Came Back (1951)
Kathy Joplin
Father's Little Dividend (1951)
Ellie Banks
Father of the Bride (1950)
Ellie Banks
For Heaven's Sake (1950)
Lydia Bolton
The Reckless Moment (1949)
Lucia Harper
Hollow Triumph (1948)
Evelyn Hahn
Secret Beyond the Door (1948)
Celia [Barrett] Lamphere
The Macomber Affair (1947)
Margo Macomber
The Woman on the Beach (1947)
Peggy [Butler]
Colonel Effingham's Raid (1946)
Ella Sue Dozier
Scarlet Street (1945)
Katherine "Kitty" March
Nob Hill (1945)
Harriet Carruthers
The Woman in the Window (1944)
Alice Reed
Margin for Error (1943)
Sophie Baumer
Twin Beds (1942)
Julie Abbott
Girl Trouble (1942)
June Delaney
The Wife Takes a Flyer (1942)
Anita Woverman
Man Hunt (1941)
Jerry [Stokes]
The Son of Monte Cristo (1941)
Grand Duchess Zona
Confirm or Deny (1941)
Jennifer Carson
Wild Geese Calling (1941)
Sally [Murdock]
She Knew All the Answers (1941)
Gloria Winters
Green Hell (1940)
Stephanie Richardson
The House Across the Bay (1940)
Brenda [Bentley]
The Man I Married (1940)
Carol [Hoffman]
The Man in the Iron Mask (1939)
Maria Theresa
The Housekeeper's Daughter (1939)
Hilda
Trade Winds (1938)
Kay Kerrigan [also known as Mary Holden]
Artists and Models Abroad (1938)
Patricia Harper
The Texans (1938)
Ivy Preston
I Met My Love Again (1938)
Julie [Wier Shaw]
Walter Wanger's Vogues of 1938 (1937)
Wendy Van Klettering
13 Hours by Air (1936)
Felice Rollins
Big Brown Eyes (1936)
Eve Fallon
Wedding Present (1936)
Monica "Rusty" Fleming
Two in a Crowd (1936)
Julia Wayne
She Couldn't Take It (1935)
Carol [Van Dyke]
Two for Tonight (1935)
Bobbie Lockwood
The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo (1935)
Helen Berkeley
Private Worlds (1935)
Sally McGregor
Mississippi (1935)
Lucy Rumford
The Pursuit of Happiness (1934)
Prudence Kirkland
The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1934)
Adele [Verin]
Little Women (1933)
Amy [March]
Arizona to Broadway (1933)
Lynn [Martin]
Wild Girl (1932)
Salomy Jane
Me and My Gal (1932)
Helen Riley
Careless Lady (1932)
Sally Brown
Week Ends Only (1932)
Venetia Carr
The Trial of Vivienne Ware (1932)
Vivienne Ware
She Wanted a Millionaire (1932)
Jane Miller
Doctors' Wives (1931)
Nina Wyndram
Hush Money (1931)
Joan Gordon
Many a Slip (1931)
Pat [Coster]
Crazy That Way (1930)
Ann Jordan
Puttin' on the Ritz (1930)
Dolores Fenton
Moby Dick (1930)
Faith
Scotland Yard (1930)
Xandra, Lady Lasher
Eleven Men and a Girl (1930)
Bulldog Drummond (1929)
Phyllis
Disraeli (1929)
Lady Clarissa Pevensey
The Mississippi Gambler (1929)
Lucy Blackburn
Three Live Ghosts (1929)
Rose Gordon
Power (1928)
A dame

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

images (1972)
Cont

Cast (Special)

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1954)

Cast (Short)

Screen Actors (1950)
Herself
Hollywood Party (1937)
Herself

Life Events

1915

Had a bit part in father Richard Bennett's medium-length film, "The Valley of Decision"

1928

Stage debut (with father) in "Jarnegan"

1928

Film acting debut in "Power"

1929

First major film performance in "Bulldog Drummond"

1938

Became a brunette, adopting a "Hedy Lamarr look" for the film "Trade Winds," at suggestion of producer Walter Wanger; kept her hair dark for the rest of her career

1941

First film with director Fritz Lang, "Man Hunt"

1951

Involved in Hollywood scandal when then-husband producer Walter Wanger, shot and wounded her agent, Jennings Lang, in a Los Angeles parking lot

1954

Returned to films after a three-year absence to act in "Highway Dragnet"

1966

TV soap opera debut as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard on "Dark Shadows"; also acted in a feature film based on the series, "House of Dark Shadows" (1970)

1976

Last film, "Suspiria"

Photo Collections

There's Always Tomorrow - Movie Posters
There's Always Tomorrow - Movie Posters
Scarlet Street - Movie Posters
Scarlet Street - Movie Posters
The Woman in the Window - Movie Poster
The Woman in the Window - Movie Poster
Father's Little Dividend - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from Father's Little Dividend (1951), starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Father of the Bride - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for Father of the Bride (1950). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The House Across the Bay - Scene Stills
Here are some scene stills from Walter Wanger's The House Across the Bay (1940), starring George Raft, Joan Bennett, Lloyd Nolan, and Walter Pidgeon.
The House Across the Bay - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from The House Across the Bay (1940), starring George Raft and Joan Bennett. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The House Across the Bay - Publicity Stills
Here are a few publicity stills from The House Across the Bay (1940), starring Joan Bennett and George Raft. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The House Across the Bay - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Walter Wanger's The House Across the Bay (1940), starring George Raft and Joan Bennett. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Suspiria (1977) - Very Pretty Indeed The blind Daniel (Flavio Bucci) arriving before her, American Suzy (Jessica Harper), unaware of the murder executed by director Dario Argento in her absence, is greeted by German dance academy bosses Miss Tanner and Madame Blanc (Alida Valli and Joan Bennett, in her last movie role), in Suspiria, 1977.
Woman In The Window, The (1944) - Thanks For The Dime Having committed no offense but justifiable homicide, Professor Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) leaves Joan Bennett (title character) with the body of her sponsor, flees New York to the north, and encounters a toll collector (Joe Devlin), Fritz Lang making it more than tense, in The Woman In The Window, 1944.
Woman In The Window, The (1944) - Some Psychological Aspects Of Homicide Opening doesn’t seem for a moment incidental, establishing Edward G. Robinson as composed professor Wanley, Dorothy Peterson his wife departing for the summer with the kids, Raymond Massey and Edmond Breon as his friendly colleagues, and a portrait of Joan Bennett, in Fritz Lang’s chilling The Woman In The Window, 1944.
Woman In The Window, The (1944) - What Kind Of A Guy Is He? Alice (Joan Bennett) serves a drink to the blackmailer Heidt (Dan Duryea) in Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window, 1944.
Woman In The Window, The (1944) - Scissors All Right? Claude Mazard (Arthur Loft) makes his only appearance, unexpected by Alice (Joan Bennett) and innocent visitor Professor Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) in this pivotal scene from The Woman In The Window, 1944.
Woman In The Window, The (1944) - A Long Low Whistle Alice (Joan Bennett) finds Professor Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) admiring her portrait in Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window, (1944).
Little Women (1933) - March Dining Room Theatre Author, producer and performer Jo (Katharine Hepburn) organizing sisters (Joan Bennett, Jean Parker, Frances Dee) for the Massachusetts March family Christmas pageant, staged by George Cukor in Little Women, 1933.
Scarlet Street (1945) - Not Even When I Was Young Following his testimonial dinner, Chris (Edward G. Robinson) with Charlie (Samuel S. Hinds) discussing their bosses' mistress, then meeting Kitty (Joan Bennett), in Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street, 1945.
Scarlet Street (1945) - Use Your Imagination The scene confirming that Johnny (Dan Duryea), previously seen beating Kitty (Joan Bennett), is in fact her boyfriend, who now schemes to fleece her incorrectly presumed-rich suitor, in Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street, 1945.
House Of Dark Shadows (1970) - Thank You, Daphne After an eventful credit sequence, Daphne (Lisa Richards), secretary to Elizabeth (Joan Bennett), leaves "Collinwood" on foot, is attacked, then rescued by Jeff (Roger Davis), in House Of Dark Shadows, 1970.
House Of Dark Shadows (1970) - A Cousin From England Subjective camera introducing presumably benign Barnabas (Jonathan Frid), who meets Collins cousins (Joan Bennett, Louis Edmonds, Nancy Barrett) and doctor friends (Thayer David, Grayson Hall), early in House Of Dark Shadows, 1970, the first of two features based on the ABC daytime soap opera.
Wife Takes A Flyer, The (1942) - Alien Legs Allyn Joslyn plays a comical Nazi in occupied Holland, whose girl-hunting brings him to the Woverman household, where he meets the butler (Erskine Sanford), and mother (Georgia Caine), and we meet leading man Franchot Tone, a downed British flyer, and finally leading lady Joan Bennett, early in MGM’s The Wife Takes A Flyer, 1942.

Trailer

Promo

Family

Richard Bennett
Father
Actor, director. Born in 1873; died in 1944; divorced from Bennett's mother in 1925.
Adrienne Morrison
Mother
Actor. Born in 1883; died in 1940; lineage went back five generations to strolling players in 18th-century England.
Constance Bennett
Sister
Actor. Born in 1904; died in 1965; popular star of the 1920s and 30s in such films as "What Price Hollywood?" (1932) and "Topper" (1937).
Barbara Bennett
Sister
Actor. Born in 1906; died in 1958.
Diana Anderson
Daughter
Born c. 1928; father, John Marion Fox.
Melinda Bena
Daughter
Father, Gene Markey.
Stephanie Guest
Daughter
Father, Walter Wanger.
Shelley Wanger
Daughter
Father, Walter Wanger.

Companions

John Marion Fox
Husband
Married c. 1926; divorced c. 1928.
Gene Markey
Husband
Producer, author, screenwriter. Married in 1932; divorced in 1937.
Walter Wanger
Husband
Producer. Married in 1940; divorced in 1965.
David Wilde
Husband
Film and theater critic, publisher. Married from 1973 until her death.

Bibliography

"The Bennett Playbill"
Joan Bennett with Lois Kibee (1970)

Notes

"I don't think much of most of the films I made. But being a movie star was something I liked very much." --Joan Bennett in 1986. (NEW YORK POST, December 10, 1990)

"If it happened today, I'd be a sensation. I'd be wanted by all studios for all pictures." --Joan Bennett in a 1981, discussing the 1951 scandal (NEW YORK TIMES obituary, December 9, 1990

A contemporary verse when Joan Bennett turned brunette went, "Let's sing of Lamarr, that Hedy so fair/Is it true that Joan Bennett wears all her old hair?"