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Constance Cummings

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Constance Cummings

Cummings in 1934
Constance Cummings Halverstadt[1]

(1910-05-15)May 15, 1910
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
DiedNovember 23, 2005(2005-11-23) (aged 95)
Wardington, Oxfordshire, England
Years active1928–1999
(m. 1933; died 1973)

Constance Cummings CBE (May 15, 1910 – November 23, 2005) was an American-British actress with a career spanning over 50 years.

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Early life

Cummings was born in Seattle, Washington, the only daughter and younger child[2] of Kate Logan (née Cummings), a concert soprano, and Dallas Vernon Halverstadt, a lawyer.[2][3]

Cummings' parents separated when she was 10 years old, and she never saw her father again. She attended St. Nicholas Girls' School in Seattle.[2]


The San Diego Stock Company gave Cummings her initial acting opportunity in a "walk-on part" playing a prostitute in a 1926 production of Seventh Heaven.[2] She debuted on Broadway as a chorus girl,[4] a member of the ensemble[5] 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 20 films, including Movie Crazy opposite Harold Lloyd, and American Madness, directed by Frank Capra.[6]

Cummings was married to the playwright and screenwriter Benn Levy from July 3, 1933 until his death in 1973.[2][7] As Levy was from the UK, Cummings moved there and continued acting in films and on the stage. Few of her films were hits in the U.S., but Blithe Spirit, adapted from the Noël Coward play, was popular. Levy wrote and directed films for Cummings, such as The Jealous God (1939); he also served in the UK Parliament from 1945 to 1950 as the Labour MP for Eton and Slough. They had a son and a daughter.[citation needed] She played Mary Tyrone in the Royal National Theatre's production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night opposite Laurence Olivier and later recreated the role for television. She took over the role of Martha in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in its first London run.[8]


In 1979, Cummings won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Emily Stilson in the drama Wings (1978–1979) (written by Arthur Kopit), a play about a former aviator (Stilson) who has suffered a stroke, from which she struggles to recover.[6] This role also brought her Obie and Drama Desk awards and an Olivier nomination.[9] In 1982, she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play for her work in The Chalk Garden.[10]

She received an Evening Standard Best Actress Award for her performance in Long Day's Journey into Night.[11]

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.[citation needed]

She was a committee member of the Royal Court Theatre and the Arts Council. She has a star in the Motion Pictures section on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard. It was dedicated on February 8, 1960.[12]


Constance Cummings Levy died in Wardington, Oxfordshire, England on November 23, 2005, aged 95,[7] from natural causes.



Year Play Character Type Comments
1926 Seventh Heaven prostitute Stage debut in Seattle, Washington
1928 Treasure Girl chorus ensemble Musical comedy Broadway debut
1930 June Moon Miss Rixey Tin Pan Alley comedy [11]
1930 This Man's Town Carrie Drama
1934 Sour Grapes first appearance on London stage
1934 Accent on Youth Linda Brown Comedy
1936 Young Madame Conti Nella Conti Melodrama
1937 Madame Bovary Revival Emma Bovary Restoration Comedy
1938 If I Were You Nellie Blunt Farce
1938 Goodbye, Mr Chips Katherine Drama
1939 The Jealous God
1939–1940 Romeo and Juliet Juliet Tragedy
1939–1940 Old Vic Theatre Season
1939 Joan of Arc Joan Drama
1939 The Good Natur'd Man Miss Richland Drama
April 22, 1940 Shakespeare Birthday Festival
1942 Skylark Lydia Drama
1943 The Petrified Forest Gabby Drama
1945 One Man Show Racine Gardner Drama
1946 Clutterbuck Comedy
1948 Don't Listen Ladies Farce
1948 Happy with Either Annaluise Klopps Comedy
1949 Before the Party Laura Comedy
1950 Return to Tyassi
1952 Winter's Journey
1953 The Shrike Drama
1957 Lysistrata Greek Comedy
1957 The Rape of the Belt Antiope played at Piccadilly Theatre (1957), and then Martin Beck Theatre, NY (1960).[11]
1961 J.B. Sarah
1962 Social Success
1964 Huis Clos Inez Drama
1965 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
1966 Public and Confidential
1967 Fallen Angels Jane Banbury Comedy
1969 Hamlet Gertrude Shakespearean Tragedy
1969 The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore Mrs Flora Goforth Tragedy
1970 The Visit Claire Zachanassian Tragi-comedy
1971 Amphitryon 38 Leda Greek Drama
1971 Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Tyrone Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford, UK with Laurence Olivier as James Tyrone
1971–1972 National Theatre, London, Repertoire Season Classical drama
1972–1973 National Theatre, London, Repertoire Season
1973 The Cherry Orchard Madame Ranevsky
1974 National Theatre, London, Repertoire Season
1974 Children
1979 Wings Emily Stilson Tony Award, Obie Award, Drama Desk Award
1979 National Theatre, London, Repertoire Season
1980 Hay Fever Comedy
1981 The Golden Age
1985 The Glass Menagerie
1986 Fanny Kemble at Home
1992 The Chalk Garden Mrs St Maugham Her last appearance on Broadway
1996–1999 Uncle Vanya Maman Her last stage appearance


  1. ^ Room, Adrian (2012). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins, 5th ed. McFarland. p. 127. ISBN 9780786457632. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Goldman, Lawrence (March 7, 2013). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008. OUP Oxford. pp. 274–76. ISBN 9780199671540.
  3. ^ Hanford, Cornelius Holgate (1924). Seattle and Environs, 1852-1924: Biographical. Pioneer Historical Publishing Company. p. 222.
  4. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 163. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  5. ^ "("Constance Cummings" search results)". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Shorter, Eric (November 25, 2005). "Obituary: Constance Cummings". The Guardian. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Willis, John; Hodges, Ben (July 1, 2008). Theatre World 2005-2006: The Most Complete Record of the American Theatre. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 341. ISBN 9781557837080.
  8. ^ "Cast change at the Piccadilly", The Stage, 30 April 1964, p. 1
  9. ^ Kennedy, Dennis (2003). Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. p. 338. ISBN 978-0-19-860672-7.
  10. ^ "("Constance Cummings" search results)". Drama Desk. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c Strachan, Alan (November 26, 2005). "Constance Cummings". Independent. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  12. ^ "Constance Cummings". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017.

External links

This page was last edited on 20 February 2024, at 13:40
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