The Bennetts : An Acting Family
PW Reviews 2004 October #4
For a while in the early 1930s, Constance Bennett was the highest paid actress in Hollywood; younger sister Joan was an equally prominent star who worked with A-list directors like George Cukor and Fritz Lang. Though the two are not as widely remembered today as other film stars of the period, Kellow (Can't Help Singing: The Life of Eileen Farrell) goes a long way toward addressing the oversight, beginning with their father, Richard, one of the most respected theater actors of the early 20th century and an early proponent of Eugene O'Neill. The family biography also reveals the life of the forgotten middle sister, Barbara, who never made it in show business and slid into acute alcoholism. Kellow's closely critical evaluations of their performances can verge on the cruel, as in the comparison of Constance to "a seasoned drag queen" in her final film appearance, and his judgmental tone occasionally extends to the characters' personal lives, though admirably less so than in other celebrity biographies. In most ways, Kellow is a respectfully restrained biographer, addressing even the most potentially lurid scandals-like Joan's husband shooting her agent because he suspected them of having an affair-with a sense of his subjects' dignity. 32 pages of b&w photos. (Nov.)Forecast: This latest addition to Kentucky's well-received line of classic star biographies is sure to meet with similar accolades and sales to film buffs. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.