There are other classic ladies of the
screen who have been nominated for the title of "most durable
star," but a sure contender is Joan Bennett, whose active
career has spanned an incredible four decades. It ranged from
fragile blonde heroines of the '30s through sultry '40s maneaters
to the mother of the bride in the '50s to the glamorous matriarch
of a haunted household in her latest, MGM's house of Dark Shadows.
All in all, there have been more than 70 films, not to mention
a successful stage career in those periods when she was not
before the cameras.
Four years ago, she scandalized her professional colleagues
by taking a role on a daytime television drama, a nice name
for soap opera. A smart move it turned out to be, since the
show was Dark Shadows, which zoomed to popularity within a year;
and as it happened, more and more "name" stars followed
her trail to the afternoon screen.
Now Dark Shadows is a film
called house of Dark Shadows, the first ever made from a "daytime
television drama," and Joan Bennett has yet another title
to add to the impressive roster that includes Little Women,
The Macomber Affair, Woman in the Window, There's Always Tomorrow
and Father of the Bride.
In an interview in her lush-but-comfortable apartment on Manhattan's
East Side (the living room dominated by paintings, including
the famous Woman in the Window portrait), Joan talked about
her doubts when first approached for Dark Shadows on television.
"It was the pace that worried me. Learning all those lines
on just one day's show. But I did it." And still is doing
it, not to mention the double duty of making house of Dark Shadows,
during the filming of which she shuttled from TV set to film
location in Tarrytown on a schedule that would have made a teenager
She also talked about her upcoming book, due in October, called
The Bennett Playbill. "It's not only about myself, but
my whole acting family. Not just my sisters and my father, Richard
Bennett, but my mother's family who were actors for generations
back." Co-author of the book is Lois Kibbe, daughter of
the famous character actor, Guy Kibbe.
When questioned about future plans, Joan Bennett is unspecific,
but definite. "I'm not about to stop acting, wherever it
may be: stage, films, or television." It's obvious that
Joan is a true child of the acting Bennett family.
She died from a heart attack at age 80 after a 50+ year career working with many famed
actors and directors. She made many movies, including "The Woman in the Window" and
"Scarlet Street". She was one of the finalists for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind".
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