Constance Cummings

Constance Cummings

Cummings in 1934
Born Constance Halverstadt
May 15, 1910
Seattle, Washington, United States
Died November 23, 2005(2005-11-23) (aged 95)
Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Years active 1928 1986
Spouse(s) Benn Levy (19331973; his death); 2 children

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[2] This role also brought her Obie and Drama Desk awards and an Olivier nomination.[3]

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.



  2. 1 2 Shorter, Eric (November 25, 2005). "Obituary: Constance Cummings". The Guardian.
  3. Kennedy, Dennis (2003). Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. p. 338. ISBN 0-19-860672-9.

External links

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