Joan Bennett Poster


Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (32) | Personal Quotes (5) | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Palisades, New Jersey, USA
Died in Scarsdale, New York, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameJoan Geraldine Bennett
Nickname Joanie
Height 5' 3½" (1.61 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Joan Geraldine Bennett was born on February 27, 1910, in Palisades, New Jersey. Her parents were both successful stage actors, especially her father, Richard Bennett, and often toured the country for weeks at a time. In fact, Joan came from a long line of actors, dating back to the 18th century. Often, when her parents were on tour, Joan and her two older sisters, Constance Bennett, who later became an actress, and Barbara were left in the care of close friends. At the age of four, Joan made her first stage appearance. She debuted in films a year later in The Valley of Decision (1916), in which her father was the star and the entire Bennett clan participated. In 1923 she again appeared in a film which starred her father, playing a pageboy in The Eternal City (1923). It would be five more years before Joan appeared again on the screen. In between, she married Jack Marion Fox, who was 26 compared to her young age of 16. The union was anything but happy, in great part because of Fox's heavy drinking. In February of 1928 Joan and Jack had a baby girl they named Adrienne. The new arrival did little to help the marriage, though, and in the summer of 1928 they divorced. Now with a baby to support, Joan did something she had no intention of doing--she turned to acting. She appeared in Power (1928) with Alan Hale and Carole Lombard, a small role but a start. The next year she starred in Bulldog Drummond (1929), sharing top billing with Ronald Colman. Before the year was out she was in three more films--Disraeli (1929), The Mississippi Gambler (1929) and Three Live Ghosts (1929). Not only did audiences like her, but so did the critics. Between 1930 and 1931, Joan appeared in nine more movies. In 1932 she starred opposite Spencer Tracy in She Wanted a Millionaire (1932), but it wasn't one she liked to remember, partly because Tracy couldn't stand the fact that everyone was paying more attention to her than to him. Joan was to remain busy and popular throughout the rest of the 1930s and into the 1940s. By the 1950s Joan was well into her 40s and began to lessen her film appearances. She made only eight pictures, in addition to appearing in two television series. After Desire in the Dust (1960), Joan would be absent from the movie scene for the next ten years, resurfacing in House of Dark Shadows (1970), reprising her role from the Dark Shadows (1966) TV series as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. Joan's final screen appearance was in the Italian thriller Suspiria (1977). Her final public performance was in the TV movie Divorce Wars: A Love Story (1982). On December 7, 1990, Joan died of a heart attack in Scarsdale, New York. She was 80 years old.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Eighteen-year-old Joan Bennett had intended to avoid the Bennett tradition of acting but, divorced and with a child to support, had little choice; she accepted a role in her father's play "Jarnegan", then her first leading film role in Bulldog Drummond (1929). Her popularity growing, she made 14 films under a Fox contract, mostly as vapid blonde ingénues; the best of these, Me and My Gal (1932), as a wisecracking waitress. Leaving Fox to appear in Little Women (1933), she then signed a personal contract with independent producer Walter Wanger, who managed her career from then on. When Wanger and director Tay Garnett made her a brunette for Trade Winds (1938), the seemingly trivial change drastically altered her screen image from insipid ingénue to smoldering temptress. Dark-haired for the rest of her career, she made her finest films in the 1940s with director Fritz Lang: Man Hunt (1941), The Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street (1945), becoming the queen of film-noir femme fatales. In December 1951, Wanger (by then her husband of 11 years) shot her agent in a jealous rage; the resulting scandal virtually ended Joan's film career. Aside from TV-movies, she made six more theatrical films. From 1950 through the1970s she worked steadily in theatre and TV, starring for five years in Dark Shadows (1966). A 1967 interviewer found her happy and contented. She last appeared in a 1986 TV documentary on Spencer Tracy.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Rod Crawford < puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Spouse (4)

David Wilde (14 February 1978 - 7 December 1990) (her death)
Walter Wanger (12 January 1940 - 20 September 1965) (divorced) (2 children)
Gene Markey (12 March 1932 - 3 June 1937) (divorced) (1 child)
John Marion Fox (15 September 1926 - 30 July 1928) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (1)

Often played untrustworthy but sexy femme fatales

Trivia (32)

Was pregnant with daughter Melinda Markey while filming Little Women (1933).
Daughter of actors Richard Bennett and Adrienne Morrison
Younger sister of actresses Barbara Bennett and Constance Bennett.
Filming on She Wanted a Millionaire (1932) was interrupted for 6 months when Joan broke her leg in a fall from a horse.
She was nearsighted and wore glasses when not on public view.
Joan's hobbies: Interior decorating, gardening/horticulture, dog breeding, collecting miniature (model) horses.
Daughters: Adrienne Ralston Fox (became Diana Markey) born 20 February 1928; Melinda Markey born 27 February 1934; Stephanie Wanger, born 26 June 1943; Shelley Wanger, born 4 July 1948.
Her 78 feature-length films include three bit parts in silents and 6 TV-movies.
At the time of her death, Joan had 13 grandchildren. Her first two great-grandchildren were on the way - one of her grandsons and his wife were expecting twins.
She was one of only three cast members who appeared on Dark Shadows (1966) from the beginning to the end. She appeared on the first episode, June 27, 1966, as well as its last, April 2, 1971.
She made five films for Fritz Lang, more than any other American actor or actress who worked with him (many actors disliked working with Lang).
Was offered the role of Beth McCarthy in Cocoon (1985). Director Ron Howard wanted to reunite co-star Don Ameche with one of his former leading ladies and he thought of Joan. Unfortunately, she was in frail health at the time and supposedly turned down the role, a decision she later regretted when "Cocoon" became one of the biggest box office hits of 1985 and spawned a sequel. The part was played by Gwen Verdon. Miss Bennett did not, in fact, turn down the role. Rather, she was talked out of taking it by her fourth husband, David Wilde. Wilde insisted that the film too closely resembled the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). He also felt that it was beneath Miss Bennett's dignity to be working under "Opie Taylor" or "Richie Cunningham".
Her first grandchild, Amanda Anderson, was born in March, 1949 to daughter Diana.
Played Amy March in Little Women (1933) with Katharine Hepburn. She played Elizabeth Taylor's mother in Father of the Bride (1950). Taylor played Amy March in the remake: Little Women (1949).
Appeared in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show (1971), although only in archive footage. The film that the characters in the movie go to see is Father of the Bride (1950), and a clip is show featuring Joan.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 82-84. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
In Italy, most of her films were dubbed by Lydia Simoneschi, including Father of the Bride (1950) and its sequel Father's Little Dividend (1951). She was occasionally dubbed by Lia Orlandini, Renata Marini and Tina Lattanzi.
Finalist for the part of Scarlett O'Hara in the classic Gone with the Wind (1939). Vivien Leigh got the role at the last minute. However, the film's producer, David O. Selznick offered to cast her oldest daughter, Diana in the role of Bonnie Blue Butler, Rhett and Scarlett's daughter as a sort of consolation prize. Miss Bennett refused the offer. In reality, Diana, who was 11 years old at the time of the film's premiere, was way too old for the role - the part called for a toddler.
Her grandfather, Morris W. Morris (an actor known as Lewis Morrison on stage), was of English and well-off Spanish ancestry. Joan Bennett spoke of this, in detail, in her 1970 autobiography "The Bennett Playbill". Morris had also served as a lieutenant during the Civil War.
Granddaughter of Rose Wood and the stage actor Lewis Morrison, birth name: Morris W. Morris (1845 - 1906).
Was called "Doanie" by her grandchildren because, allegedly, one of her granddaughters could not say "Joanie" when she was younger.
At age 39, Bennett became Tinseltown's youngest and sexiest grandmother when her daughter gave birth. Marlene Dietrich, the former title holder, sent Bennett a telegram thanking her for taking the "heat off her".
Dians Productions, Bennett's production company, was named after her daughter Adrienne (a.k.a, Diana.).
Husband Walter Wanger shot Bennett's agent, Jennings Lang, in the groin in 1951 because he discovered they were having an affair and caught them in the act in Lang's car. Wanger was convicted of attempted murder and served a four-month sentence.
Ex-mother-in-law of Don Hayden.
She was a popular target of disdain in Hedda Hopper's gossip column. To get her point across Bennett mailed Hopper a skunk as a Valentines Day gift in 1950 with a note that read, "You Stink!".
She was a very active member of both the Hollywood Democratic Committee and The Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and donated her time and money to many liberal causes (such as the Civil Rights Movement) and political candidates (including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Henry Wallace, Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter) during her lifetime.
Acting mentor and friend of David Selby.
From 1961 to 1964, Joan was romantically involved with Actor John Emery, and cared for him to the end of his final illness.
In her 1970 memoir, THE BENNETT PLAYBILL, Joan Bennett said that she found "the accent on trivia" in the press about the lives of celebrities never ceased to amaze her. In that same paragraph, she listed many of the pieces of personal trivia about herself that were reported in the press (and were true): she loved peanut butter, knocked on wood for luck, made a great hollandaise sauce, loved fresh flowers, hated turnips, slept in a nightgown, and favored "shocking pink and green." She was concerned that the focus on such minutiae overshadowed what she called "the current long-hair four-letter revolution" and the increasing presence of pornography in American culture.
Appeared in three Oscar Best Picture nominees Disraeli (1929), Little Women (1933) and Father of the Bride (1950) in three different decades.

Personal Quotes (5)

I don't think much of most of the films I made, but being a movie star was something I liked very much.
[about the attention she was getting as a cast member of the cult series Dark Shadows (1966)] I feel positively like a Beatle.
My film career faded. A man can go on playing certain roles 'til he's sixty. But not a woman.

[in 1984] The "Golden Age" is gone, and with it most of the people of great taste. It doesn't seem to be any fun any more.
[on Hollywood attorney Jerry Giesler] Whenever trouble arose in Hollywood, the first cry for legal help was, "Get Giesler!".
Meryl Streep can act Polish or English or Australian but she sure as hell can't act blonde.

Salary (1)

Dark Shadows (1966) $333 per episode

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page