Sunday, July 24, 2011

Constance Dowling, Alan Curtis, Constance Bennett

Who was born on this date:

Actress Constance Dowling was born on July 24, 1920 in New York City. She was a model and chorus girl before moving to California in 1943. She was the elder sister of actress Doris Dowling. Prior to her move to Hollywood, Dowling appeared in several Broadway productions, including Panama Hattie (with sister Doris), Hold On To Your Hats, and The Strings, My Lord, Are False.

Dowling began her screen career appearing in Up in Arms (1944), then Black Angel (1946) but her film career did not advance. She lived in Italy from 1947 through 1950 and appeared in some unmemorable Italian films. Dowling returned to Hollywood in the 1950s and landed a part in the sci-fi film Gog (1954), this was her last film.

In her personal life, Dowling had been involved in a long affair with married director Elia Kazan. She was later linked with Italian poet/novelist Cesare Pavese who committed suicide in 1950 after being rejected by Dowling. In 1955, Dowling married film producer Ivan Tors and retired from acting after this marriage. On October 28, 1969, Dowling died from a heart attack at the age of 49. She is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Actor Alan Curtis was born Harry Ueberroth on July 24, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois. He began his career as a model before becoming an actor, appearing in local newspaper ads. His looks did not go unnoticed in Hollywood. He began appearing in films in the late 1930s (including a Technicolor appearance in the Alice Faye-Don Ameche film Hollywood Cavalcade and a memorable role in High Sierra (1941).

He is probably best known as one of the romantic leads in Abbott and Costello's first hit movie Buck Privates. His chance for leading-man stardom came when he replaced John Garfield in the 1943 production of Flesh and Fantasy. The film failed to establish Curtis as a major-name star, but it did typecast him in roles, like the man framed for murder in Phantom Lady (1944) and the detective Philo Vance. He died at the age of 43 on February 2, 1953 from complications during an operation. His unmarked grave is located within the Ueberroth family plot at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, Illinois.

Who died on this date:

On July 24, 1965, actress Constance Bennett died. She was born on October 22, 1904 in New York City, the daughter of actor Richard Bennett and actress Adrienne Morrison. Her career in film began with Cytherea (1924). The following year she abandoned a burgeoning career in movies to marry Philip Plant but resumed her film career after their divorce. The combination of her delicate blonde features and glamorous fashion style, quickly made her a popular film star.

In 1931, while under contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer she earned $300,000 for two movies which included The Easiest Way. This made her one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. The next year she moved to RKO, where she acted in What Price Hollywood? (1932), directed by George Cukor, an ironic and at the same time tragic behind-the-scenes looks at the old Hollywood studio system. She went on to star in films such as Our Betters (1933), Bed of Roses (1933), The Affairs of Cellini (1934), After Office Hours (1935), Topper (1937), Topper Takes a Trip (1939), Merrily We Live (1938) and Two-Faced Woman (1941).

By the 1940s, Bennett was working less frequently in film but was in demand in both radio and theatre. Shrewd investments had made her a wealthy woman, and she founded a cosmetics and clothing company. Hollywood beckoned again in 1947, when she starred The Unsuspected opposite Claude Rains. She made no films from the early 1950s until 1965, when made another comeback in the film, Madame X (1966). On July 24, 1965, shortly after filming was completed, Bennett collapsed and died from a cerebral hemorrhage. In recognition of her military contributions, and as the wife of Theron John Coulter, who had achieved the rank of brigadier general, she was buried in Arlington National Cemetery., author of "Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950"

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