Constance Cummings

Active - 1931 - 1986  |   Born - May 15, 1910   |   Died - Nov 23, 2005   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Crime, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

The daughter of an attorney father and an opera-diva mother, Constance Cummings took dancing lessons in the hopes of becoming a prima ballerina. She switched to acting, landing the role of Diana in a stock-company production of Seventh Heaven when she was only 16. Within a few years, she was appearing on Broadway as a chorus dancer in the company of such leading lights as Gertrude Lawrence and Clifton Webb. In 1930, she was brought to Hollywood by Sam Goldwyn for the Ronald Colman vehicle The Devil to Pay. She was replaced in that film by Loretta Young, but the next year she was prominently cast in Howard Hawks' prison picture The Criminal Code (1931). Seldom cast as a conventional ingenue, Constance enjoyed such complex roles as the twin-personality heroine in Harold Lloyd's Movie Crazy (1932). Upon her marriage to British playwright W. Benn Levy in 1933, Constance moved to England, where she remained for the rest of her career. Matriculating into a topnotch character actress, Constance starred in the London production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and appeared opposite Laurence Olivier in Long Day's Journey Into Night. Constance Cummings was honored with the Order of the British Empire in 1974, and in 1979 she won a "Best Actress" Tony for her Broadway performance in Arthur Kopit's Wings.

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