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Constance Cummings
Born Constance Halverstadt
May 15, 1910
Seattle, Washington
Died November 23, 2005 (aged 95)
Oxfordshire, England
Years active 1931–1986
Spouse(s) Benn W. Levy (1933–1973) 2 children

Constance Cummings, CBE (May 15, 1910 – November 23, 2005) was an American-born British actress, known for her work on both screen and stage.

Born Constance Halverstadt in Seattle, Washington to Dallas Halverstadt and Kate Cummings, she began as a stage actress, landing her first role on Broadway by the age of 18. While appearing on Broadway, she was discovered by Sam Goldwyn, who brought her to Hollywood in 1931.

Between 1931 and 1934, Cummings appeared in 21 films, most notably the Harold Lloyd picture Movie Crazy, and American Madness, which was directed by Frank Capra. She was married to the playwright and screenwriter Benn Levy from 1933 until his death in 1973. Levy went on to write and direct films for Cummings, such as The Jealous God (1939); he also served during 1945-50 as the Labour MP for Eton and Slough. They had a son and a daughter.

Cummings was uncomfortable in Hollywood and moved to England, where she continued acting, both in movies and on the stage. Few of these films became popular in America, although included amongst those that did is Blithe Spirit, adapted from a play by Sir Noël Coward.

In 1974, Cummings, who resided in the UK for many decades, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the British entertainment industry. There is no record of her relinquishing her USA citizenship, so the award would have been honorary. A peerage would have been possible only if she had acquired British nationality or citizenship.

She played Mary Tyrone in the Royal National Theatre's production of Eugene O'Neills' Long Day's Journey into Night opposite Sir Laurence Olivier, to great acclaim. She later recreated the role for a television version. In 1979, she won a Tony Award for Best Actress for her performance in the role in the play Wings (written by Arthur Kopit) of Emily Stilson, a former aviator who has suffered a stroke, from which she struggles to recover.

She was a committee member of the Royal Court Theatre and the Arts Council. Despite her truncated career in the U.S., she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6211 Hollywood Blvd.

Constance Cummings Levy died on November 23, 2005 at the age of 95.

References

  • Obituary, The Times, November 28, 2005, page 55

External links

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