Constance Cummings, CBE (May 15, 1910 – November 23, 2005), born Constance Halverstadt, was an American-born British actress, known for her work on both screen and stage.
Life and career
Cummings was born in Seattle, Washington, the daughter of Kate Logan (née Cummings), a concert soprano, and Dallas Vernon Halverstadt, a lawyer. She began as a stage actress, landing her first role on Broadway in Treasure Girl (1928) by the age of 18. While appearing on Broadway, she was discovered by Samuel Goldwyn, who brought her to Hollywood in 1931. Between 1931 and 1934, Cummings appeared in more than twenty films, including the Harold Lloyd films Movie Crazy and American Madness, directed by Frank Capra.
She was married to the playwright and screenwriter Benn Levy from 1933 until his death in 1973. Her husband being from Britain, Cummings moved there and continued acting, both in films and on the stage, in Britain. Few of her films were hits in the U.S., although Blithe Spirit, adapted from the Noël Coward play, was popular. Levy went on to write and direct films for Cummings, such as The Jealous God (1939); he also served in the UK Parliament from 1945-50 as the Labour MP for Eton and Slough. They had a son and a daughter.
She played Mary Tyrone in the Royal National Theatre's production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night opposite Sir Laurence Olivier, to great acclaim, and later recreated the role for a television production. In 1979, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Emily Stilson in the drama Wings (1978-9) (written by Arthur Kopit), a play about a former aviator (Stilson) who has suffered a stroke, from which she struggles to recover. This role also brought her Obie and Drama Desk awards and an Olivier nomination.
On January 1, 1974, Cummings, who resided in Britain for many decades until her death, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her contributions to the British entertainment industry.
She was a committee member of the Royal Court Theatre and the Arts Council. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6211 Hollywood Blvd.
Constance Cummings Levy died in Oxfordshire, England, on November 23, 2005, aged 95, from natural causes.
- The Criminal Code (1931) as Mary Brady
- The Last Parade (1931) as Molly Pearson
- Lover Come Back (1931) as Connie Lee
- Traveling Husbands (1931) as Ellen Wilson
- The Guilty Generation (1931) as Maria Palmero
- Behind the Mask (1932) as Julie Arnold
- The Big Timer (1932) as Honey Baldwin
- Attorney for the Defense (1932) as Ruth Barry
- American Madness (1932) as Helen
- Movie Crazy (1932) as Mary Sears
- The Last Man (1932) as Marian
- Washington Merry-Go-Round (1932) as Alice
- Night After Night (1932) as Miss Jerry Healy
- The Billion Dollar Scandal (1933) as Doris Masterson
- The Mind Reader (1933) as Sylvia
- Heads We Go (1933) as Betty Smith / Dorothy Kay
- Channel Crossing (1933) as Marion Slade
- Broadway Through a Keyhole (1933) as Joan Whelan
- Looking for Trouble (1934) as Ethel Greenwood
- Glamour (1934) as Linda Fayne
- This Man Is Mine (1934) as Francesca Harper
- Remember Last Night? (1935) as Carlotta Milburn
- Seven Sinners (1936) as Caryl Fenton
- Strangers on Honeymoon (1936) as October
- Busman's Honeymoon (1940) as Harriet Vane
- This England (1941) as Ann
- The Foreman Went to France (1942) as Anne Stafford, the American girl
- Blithe Spirit (1945) as Ruth Condomine
- Into the Blue (1950) as Mrs. Kate Fergusson
- Three's Company (1954) as Julia (segment "The Scream' story)
- John and Julie (1955) as Mrs. Davidson
- The Intimate Stranger (1956) as Kay Wallace
- The Battle of the Sexes (1960) as Angela Barrows
- Sammy Going South (1963) as Gloria van Imhoff
- In the Cool of the Day (1963) as Mrs. Nina Gellert
- Dead Man's Folly (1986) as Amy Folliat