Thursday, October 7, 2010

Joan Bennett (1910-1990)

The American born beauty came into acting quite naturally. She's the daughter of stage star Richard Bennett and sister to actresses Constance and Barbara Bennett. (I will post on her very successful sister Constance at a later date).  I've always thought that Joan and Constance could pass as twins early in their careers and then Joan went to her naturally dark hair color in later movies.  (I can't imagine what kind of damage that would do to your hair having it bleached on a regular basis so kudos to the studios for allowing  the change).

So beautiful!

Joan went into acting to make ends meet at 18 after an impulsive marriage ended in divorce and with a child to support.  Her career started in theater like her father then she soon got bit parts in movies and relocated to Hollywood.  Her first notable role was playing Amy in the film "Little Women" 1933. Soon after Joan married for a second time to a Producer, divorced shortly after then married the very successful Producer Walter Wranger.  This is when her career really took off.  It was in her husbands movie "Trade Winds" in 1938. (This is the role in which she dyed her platinum hair black).

Stunning as a blonde or brunette!

Joan starred in over 60 films during her long career as well as over 20 television shows.  My favorite Joan Bennett film is "Father Of The Bride" 1950 where she played the very patient wife of Spencer Tracy and mother to the stunning Elizabeth Taylor. (If you have only seen the remake of this great film please do yourself a favor and find the original). Joan acted in television shows until the late 70's her most notable television role was on the cult hit "Dark Shadows" until 1971.  She retired to Scarsdale, NY soon after to spend time with her 4th husband, movie critic David Wilde and her four daughters and 13 grandchildren.

click on Joan's autograph from my collection and photo's for a larger view.

with George Sanders publicity still for "Green Hell"

Joan is interred at Pleasant View Cemetery in Pleasant, NY next to her parents. 

Fun Joan Bennett Facts:  

Joan starred in more of the German Director Friz Lang's films than any other American actress.

Joan's 3rd husband Director Walter Wranger shot her agent while in a jealous rage, almost ending her career in 1951. (Her agent was wounded but survived and her husband pleaded Temporary Insanity at his trial and served a short sentence then went on to have a successful career).

Joan sang all of her own songs in films and was never dubbed.

She was one of many actresses up for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind and when she lost the part to Vivien Leigh, Selznick offered the role of Bonnie Blue to her daughter Diana to make amends. Joan turned down the offer most likely because her daughter was 11 and Bonnie Blue was just a toddler.

The Director Ron Howard offered Joan a part in his hit movie "Cocoon" by that time she was in frail health and declined.

Thank You for stopping by and come back soon,


  1. I would like to find recordings of Joan's songs she sang in the movies. Please! I'm surprised her voice didn't take off more as well as her acting. Wonderful lady! I'm a big fan.

    1. rho,
      Joan was a great actress wasn't she? I think you can find a couple clips of her singing via Youtube.
      Thanks for stopping by and please come back often.
      There's plenty in my archives as well as new bios coming up so stay tuned! : )