"I'm a lot more sartorial than thespian. They come to see me and go out humming the costumes." -- Constance Bennett
I swear, I'll stop tieing this feature into Turner Classic Movies eventually – but they're wrapping up their excellent Summer Under the Stars series, and I don't know if they've run out of stars, or what, but it's ... amusing to see a whole day devoted to lil' Connie Bennett. It's not exactly a total waste of airtime, but it is curious: Constance Bennett was not a very good actress, but she made a few very worthwhile films, and she was certainly an extremely competant celebrity. She might, in fact, be my number two favorite star of the 1930s to read gossip about (nobody beats Marlene in that regard).
Connie and her sister Joan Bennett were essentially the Hilton Sisters of their day – celebutante rich girls who went into acting because there was little else to do with their copious beauty and suspicious free time – although neither Bennett ever gave the critics the kind of ammunition that the older, blonder Hilton seems to dole out for a living. Meager acting muscles aside, Connie got to star alongside Cary Grant in the Topper films, and Joel McCrea in a couple of pre-Code gems; she was also reportedly a crack poker player who routinely played at the boys table and cleaned up. Turn on your TV right now and you'll catch Bennett's most interesting film, What Price Hollywood?, which became the blueprint for the three incarnations of A Star is Born; tune in later tonight to see the Topper films, as well as the camptastic Madame X.