Charles Clarence "Richard" Bennett (1870 - 1944)

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Nicknames: "Richard Bennett"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Deacon's Mills, IN, USA
Death: Died in Los Angeles, CA, USA
Cause of death: Heart attack.
Occupation: Actor
Managed by: Ric Dickinson
Last Updated:

About Charles Clarence "Richard" Bennett

Richard Bennett (May 21, 1870 – October 22, 1944) was an American actor. A matinee idol of the stage and early silent movie era, Bennett is probably best-known for his role as Major Amberson in Welles's motion picture adaptation of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). He played the dying millionaire, John Glidden, in If I Had a Million (1932). Bennett is also known for adapting socially conscious works of Eugène Brieux, such as Damaged Goods and Maternity.

He was born in Deacon's Mills, Indiana, the son of George Washington Bennett and Eliza Huffman. His younger sister was Ina Blanche Bennett.

For a time, he was a professional boxer, medicine showman, troubadour and night clerk in a hotel in Chicago.

Bennett made his stage debut in the play The Limited Mail (1891) in Chicago. He went to New York, where his Broadway debut was in His Excellency the Governor (1899), which was produced by Charles Frohman. In his third Broadway production, he played the role as Father Anselem in Frohman's A Royal Family (1900). In 1905, Bennett won fame as the leading man, Hector Malone, Jr., in Shaw's Man and Superman. That was followed by his role as Jefferson Ryder in the stage hit The Lion and the Mouse (1905).

A series of spectacular roles followed. In 1908, he played the role as John Shand opposite Maude Adams in Barrie's What Every Woman Knows. Frequent quarrels between the stars occurred during the run of the play, and when Adams opened in Peter Pan, Bennett telegraphed his congratulations "on achieving your long ambition to be your own leading man."

He was married to Grena Heller in 1901 in San Francisco. They soon separated, and were divorced in 1903. Using her married name, she starred in a few plays on Broadway, and went on to a successful career as a music critic for the Hearst newspaper New York American, which later became the New York Journal American.

On November 8, 1903, Bennett and actress Adrienne Morrison were married in Jersey City. They had three daughters, Constance Bennett (1904-1965); Barbara Bennett (1906-1958); and Joan Bennett (1910-1990). He and Morrison were divorced in April 1925. Their first and third daughters, Constance and Joan, became successful movie stars. Their second daughter, Barbara, was also briefly an actress, but with less success. She married the popular singer Morton Downey. The controversial television talk-show host Morton Downey, Jr., was Richard Bennett's grandson.

In 1913, Bennett had a theatrical success starring as Georges Dupont in the social disease stage drama Damaged Goods, which he also co-produced.

Bennett won a reputation for his curtain harangues, which friends—and critics—said were at least as good as his stage portrayals when, in 1913, he wound up an appearance in Damaged Goods by stepping in front of the curtain and castigatigating the police and courts for "narrow-mindedness." He developed this penchant until his ab-lib speeches won greater applause than many of the plays in which he acted.

His silent movie debut was a reprisal of his stage role in Damaged Goods (1914), which co-starred his wife, Adrienne Morrison. He helped adapt the screenplay and direct the drama. In the drama The Valley of Decision (1916), which he wrote, Bennett appeared on the screen with his wife, Morrison, and his three daughters.

In 1922, Bennett starred in Broadway's English-language version of Leonid Andreyev's melodrama He Who Gets Slapped, playing the title role as He. The success of the play led to its being filmed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with the production starring Lon Chaney in Bennett's role.

His daughter Barbara acted with him on stage in The Dancers (1923).

In 1925, he became acquainted with Aimee Raisch in San Francisco, during the production of Creoles, in which she played a minor role. She was a young socialite and aspiring actress who was divorcing her millionaire clubman and polo player husband, Harry G. Hastings.

Bennett and Raisch were married July 11, 1927, in Chicago. He and Aimee, who later went by Angela, separated April 3, 1934, and were divorced in 1937. She died in San Francisco, in 1955.

His daughter Joan made her stage debut acting with him in Jarnegan (1928). This play, in which he played Jack Jarnegan, provided one of his favorite roles—that of a belligerent, drunken movie director given to acidulous and profane comments on Hollywood.

Bennett was fond of saying that the movie industry was not a business, but a madhouse. However, with the advent of the talkies he returned to the screen as a character actor. In 1931 he appeared with Constance Bennett in Bought.

Richard Bennett died at age 74 from a heart attack at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. Episcopal funeral services were conducted on October 24, 1944, in Beverly Hills. He is interred in Pleasant View Cemetery, Lyme, Connecticut, beside his second wife and mother of his daughters.

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Richard Bennett's Timeline

1870
May 21, 1870
IN, USA
1901
1901
Age 30
San Francisco, CA, USA
1903
November 8, 1903
Age 33
Jersey City, NJ, USA
1903
Age 32
1904
October 22, 1904
Age 34
1906
August 13, 1906
Age 36
Palisades Park, NJ, USA
1910
February 27, 1910
Age 39
Palisades Park, NJ, USA
1944
October 22, 1944
Age 74
Los Angeles, CA, USA