Constance Worth (born Enid Joyce Howarth; 19 August 1911 – 18 October 1963) was an Australian actress who became a Hollywood star in the late 1930s. She was also known as Jocelyn Howarth.

Constance Worth
Constance Worth 1938.jpg
Constance Worth in The Wages of Sin (1938)
Born
Enid Joyce Howarth

(1911-08-19)19 August 1911
Sydney, Australia
Died18 October 1963(1963-10-18) (aged 52)
Alma materSt. Gabriel's School
Ascham School
Years active1933–1949
Spouse(s)
George Brent
(m. 1937; div. 1937)

William A. Pierce
(m. 1946)

Early life and careerEdit

She was born in Sydney, Australia, youngest of three daughters of businessman Moffatt Howarth and his wife Mary Ellen (née Dumbrell).[1][2][3][4]

She attended Ascham School and a finishing school.[5][6] She appeared on stage at Sydney's Independent theatre in a production of Cynara.

Film career in AustraliaEdit

 
Jocelyn Howarth and Nancy Bird Walton, ca. 1932 – by unknown photographer.

She was cast in the title role in the Cinesound movie The Squatter's Daughter (1933), produced and directed by Ken G. Hall. Ken Hall claimed Howarth's first screen test showed "light and shade, good diction, no accent and (that) she undoubtedly could act with no sign of the self-consciousness which almost always characterised the amateur."[7] The film was a big success.

In August 1933 Cinesound put her under an 18-month contract, a very rare thing at the time,[8] and paid for her to tour Australia as their rising star.

In late 1933, Smith's Weekly raved enthusiastically about the young actress; "Young Joy Howarth who leapt into publicity when she became the Squatter's Daughter a few months ago, is just the big hit nowadays...."[7]

She had a support role in Hall's next film, The Silence of Dean Maitland (1934). This was another box office success. Cinesound wanted to use her in their version of Robbery Under Arms.[9] That film ended up not being made.

She planned on going overseas but in June 1934 she signed a contract with J.C. Williamson Ltd for whom she appeared on stage in The Wind and the Rain by Merton Hodge.[10][11] Howarth toured in the play around the country for the next few months and then went to New Zealand

Move to HollywoodEdit

In April 1936, she sailed for the United States and Hollywood.[12] A report in the Los Angeles Times said she was going to England, but she decided to stay in the US.[13] (She later said she was stranded in the country due to a maritime strike.[14])

In August 1936 she reportedly put her head in the oven and tried to kill herself because she was "despondent about getting work".[15] It was later explained this was just an accident.[16]

RKOEdit

In October 1936 she signed a year long contract with RKO Pictures.[17] Worth tested for a film by Edward Small, Clementina. It was not made. However she was top billed in her first film for RKO: China Passage (1937), originally called Miss Customs Agent. Because she appeared opposite established Hollywood actor Vinton Hayworth, RKO decided to give her a new name "Constance Worth". [18]

In December 1936 RKO announced she would co star with Robert Donat in Son of Monte Cristo.[19] In February 1937 RKO announced her for Borrowed Time.[20] Instead she was in Windjammer (1937) which she made with George O'Brien.[21] She broke her hip during filming.[22] After Windjammer, RKO offered her no more films.

Her next role was in Willis Kent's 1938 exploitation quickie, The Wages of Sin (1938), playing a young woman lured into prostitution.

Worth had a support role in Mystery of the White Room (1939) at Universal. [23]

In June 1939 she returned to Australia for a three month visit.[24][25] She returned in late October. He name was linked romantically to Ivan Goff around this time.[26]

In March 1940 an ankle injury reportedly took her out of a role in The Night of January 16th at Paramount, though she got some radio work with Cary Grant.[27]

ColumbiaEdit

In August 1940 she signed a contract with Columbia.[28] She had a support part in Angels Over Broadway 1940) with Rita Hayworth; Worth wanted to resume her name "Joy Howarth" but it was felt this was too close to Hayworth so she kept her new stage name.[29] Columbia put her in Meet Boston Blackie (1940).[30][31]

At PRC she had a support role in Criminals Within (1941), directed by Joseph H. Lewis, then she appeared in an uncredited minor role in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941).[32]

In November 1940 she reportedly signed a three picture deal with Paramount but appears not to have made movies for them.[33] She lost a part in They Dare Not Love because Brent was cast.[34]

Worth was fourth billed in the gangster B film Borrowed Hero (1941) at Monogram and a spy story at PRC, The Dawn Express (1942).[35] Back at Columbia she was third billed in Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood (1942)[36] then at Universal she was uncredited in When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1942). In January 1942 she was linked to Clementina again.[37]

She went to work as a waitress at a drive in restaurant. This led to an item in a gossip column and drew the attention of Harry Cohn. In December 1942 she reportedly signed a five year contract with Columbia.[38] "It was not a star's contract by any means," she said later, "but I grabbed it very gratefully. I stayed at Columbia for about two years, but never did anything but small roles and a few leads in B pictures. In fact I became known as 'Queen of the B's' at Columbia."[39]

Worth had a minor role in Columbia's City Without Men (1943) but she was third billed in Republic's serial G-Men vs. The Black Dragon (1943).[40] At Columbia she supported in Let's Have Fun (1943) and She Has What It Takes (1943), then was uncredited in Crime Doctor (1943), Appointment in Berlin (1943), Dangerous Blondes (1943), My Kingdom for a Cook (1943). She was at least billed in The Crime Doctor's Strangest Case (1943) and had a decent role in Klondike Kate (1943) directed by William Castle. She was third billed in Who's Hugh? (1943).[41]

Worth was uncredited in Cover Girl (1944), Jam Session (1944).

At Paramount she was uncredited in Frenchman's Creek (1944). At Columbia she was Charles Starrett's leading lady in the Westerns Cyclone Prairie Rangers (1944) and Sagebrush Heroes (1945). [42]

Last RolesEdit

For Sigmund Neufeld at PRC she played a support part in The Kid Sister (1945) and was unbilled in Dillinger (1945) at Monogram.[43]

Worth had a support part in PRC's Why Girls Leave Home (1945) and Monogram's Sensation Hunters (1945), and a minor role in RKO's Deadline at Dawn (1946). In August 1945 she said "I have no desire to play romantic leads any more, though I do think I still look good enough for such roles. I'm now concentrating on character parts, similar to those that have made Claire Trevor famous. I think I can do them, and I feel they'll offer me a longer screen life than romantic leads. At least the competition won't be so stiff."[39]

She was uncredited in The Set-Up (1949). Her last film was a minor role in the Johnny Mack Brown Monogram Western Western Renegades (1949). [44]

Throughout her career and as late as 1961, publicity in Australia repeatedly suggested she was on the verge of signing a major studio contract again. This did not happen.[45]

Personal lifeEdit

On 10 May 1937, she married Irish actor George Brent in Mexico after a courtship of six weeks. After only a few weeks, they separated, and a divorce was granted the same year.[46] Brent sought an annulment claiming that the marriage in Mexico was not legal. The case went to trial in August 1937 and was highly publicized - Worth broke down in tears during proceedings.[47] The court ruled the marriage was legal in September. She sued for divorce in November and it was granted in December.[48][49][50][51]

The marriage and drama of the divorce attracted enormous newspaper publicity in Australia. Denis O’Brien comments that even in 1939 "the Weekly was still dredging the Howarth saga" in its report on her latest film Mystery of the White Room (1939).[52] "I didn't get a penny," she declared in 1945, "though I could have demanded $120,000 as my share of George's community property. But I was too proud then to accept money from a man who didn't want me. I'd not be so proud now."[39]

In January 1946, she was again in newspapers, cited in divorce proceedings by the wife of Hollywood scriptwriter William A. Pierce. Both denied any impropriety, but within a year of his divorce, they married.[53]

In August 1947, Australian newspapers reported that she had been severely injured in a car accident and had undergone plastic surgery.[54]

Constance Worth died, aged 52, in Hollywood on 18 October 1963, an "ordinary housewife", reportedly from anemia. Ken Hall remarked that "unhappy circumstances" surrounded her death.[55]

She is occasionally mistaken for a British silent-era stage and film actress of the same name, active 1919–1922.

Partial filmographyEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald 26 August 1911, p. 14
  2. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 22 September 1921, p. 6
  3. ^ U.S. immigration records on her re-entry to the US on 13 October 1939, confirm her birth name as Enid Joyce and her year of birth 1911
  4. ^ Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld), Wednesday 15 November 1933, page 8
  5. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 1934
  6. ^ Terry Ramsaye (Ed) (1948) 1948–1948 International Film Almanac. p. 416. Quigley Publications, California, USA
  7. ^ a b Amber Sloan (1998) "Jocelyn Howarth" BONZA National Cinema and Television Database, RMIT University Archived 10 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "WHO ARE OUR POTENTIAL STARS?". Table Talk. Melbourne. 31 August 1933. p. 17. Retrieved 16 March 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "Jocelyn Howarth Gets Contract". The Sun (1584). New South Wales, Australia. 6 August 1933. p. 47. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ "Australian Film Actress Goes on the Stage". The Argus (Melbourne) (27, 412). Victoria, Australia. 27 June 1934. p. 10. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ "THRILLED WITH HER CHANCE". The Sydney Morning Herald (30, 103). New South Wales, Australia. 27 June 1934. p. 7. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  12. ^ "JOCELYN HOWARTH GOING TO HOLLYWOOD". The Daily Telegraph. 6 (24). New South Wales, Australia. 14 March 1936. p. 8. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ FLOOD WORK TAKES 11,686 FROM DOLE: Los Angeles Times 19 Apr 1936: A1.
  14. ^ Around and About in Hollywood Read, Kendall. Los Angeles Times 22 Jan 1937: A18.
  15. ^ Hearty Welcome Awaits Veterans Saturday Los Angeles Times 5 Aug 1936: A2
  16. ^ "Australian girl's". The Mail (Adelaide). 26 (1, 316). South Australia. 14 August 1937. p. 1 (Talkie News). Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  17. ^ "JOCELYN HOWARTH". The Sydney Morning Herald (30, 836). New South Wales, Australia. 31 October 1936. p. 12. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  18. ^ "Constance Worth Tells Of Hollywood Private Life Hollywood Private Life". The Mail (Adelaide). 26 (1, 305). South Australia. 29 May 1937. p. 2 (Talkie News). Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  19. ^ SCREEN NOTES Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.16 Dec 1936: 35.
  20. ^ SCHILDKRAUT AND CARNOVSKY VIE FOR CAPT. DREYFUS ROLE IN "ZOLA": Deal Arranged for More "Hopalongs" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]10 Feb 1937: 10.
  21. ^ "CONSTANCE WORTH". The Age (25902). Victoria, Australia. 25 April 1938. p. 14. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  22. ^ Boy, 12, Trainer of Elephants: Lad Amazes Playmates by Making Pachyderm Perform at Zoopark Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]27 May 1937: A1.
  23. ^ Three Screen Themes Prepared for Colbert Los Angeles Times 27 Jan 1939: 26.
  24. ^ "MISS JOCELYN HOWARTH RETURNS". Queensland Times. LXXIX (16, 404). Queensland, Australia. 21 June 1939. p. 3 (DAILY.). Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  25. ^ Joy Howarth arriving home on the SS Monterey, July, 1939. State Library of New South Wales image
  26. ^ SHIPPING NEWS LOS ANGELES HARBOR ACTIVITIES Los Angeles Times 29 Oct 1939: 12.
  27. ^ "Stage Offer For Cecil Kellaway". The Daily Telegraph. IV (314). New South Wales, Australia. 22 March 1940. p. 7. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  28. ^ "JOCELYN HOWARTH". The Port Macquarie News And Hastings River Advocate. New South Wales, Australia. 17 August 1940. p. 8. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  29. ^ Bette Davis Receives 840 Marriage Proposals This Year The Washington Post 11 Aug 1940: 51.
  30. ^ Looking at Hollywood Chapman, John. Chicago Daily Tribune 12 Dec 1940: 26.
  31. ^ Ida Lupino Wins Lead in 'Valley' at 20th: Rogers Goes Dramatic Fred, Madeleine Team Film Chest Overflows Constance Worth Cast Cooper Deal Definite Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 4 Dec 1940: A12.
  32. ^ Lana Turner Heroine in 'Jekyll and Hyde' Los Angeles Times 5 Feb 1941: A10.
  33. ^ "HOLLYWOOD NEWS REEL". The Sun (1965). New South Wales, Australia. 24 November 1940. p. 19 (NEWS SECTION). Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  34. ^ "IT HAPPENS IN HOLLYWOOD". The Sydney Morning Herald (32, 199). New South Wales, Australia. 11 March 1941. p. 5 (Women's Supplement). Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  35. ^ SCREEN NEWS HERE AD IN HOLLYWOOD New York Times 17 Oct 1941: 28.
  36. ^ SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD New York Times 19 June 1942: 19.
  37. ^ Hedda Hopper's HOLLYWOOD Los Angeles Times 16 Jan 1942: 13.
  38. ^ "Jocelyn Howarth's Success". The Daily News. LX (21, 126). Western Australia. 18 December 1942. p. 8 (HOME EDITION). Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  39. ^ a b c "THE GIRL WHO CAME BACK". The Australasian. CLIX (5, 043). Victoria, Australia. 25 August 1945. p. 18. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  40. ^ DRAMA: Douglas, Dunne Will Scintillate in 'Gaslight' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 22 Sep 1942: 15.
  41. ^ DRAMA: Gregory Ratoff Will Guide Porter Musical Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 21 Aug 1942: A15.
  42. ^ SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD New York Times 6 Dec 1943: 21.
  43. ^ NEWS OF THE SCREEN: New York Times 17 Oct 1944: 19.
  44. ^ WESTERN RENEGADES Picture Show; London Vol. 58, Iss. 1514, (Apr 5, 1952): 10.
  45. ^ See for example; Australian Women's Weekly, 11 December 1937, p.26; 13 December 1942, p. 11; Sydney Morning Herald 8 October 1952, p. 5; Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 1961, p. 27
  46. ^ "Constance Worth Granted Divorce". News. XXIX (4, 486). South Australia. 8 December 1937. p. 4. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  47. ^ Brent Case in New Turn: More Testimony to Be Heard as Result of Surprise Move Los Angeles Times 21 Aug 1937: A8.
  48. ^ ACTRESS IN DIVORCE COURT: MARRIAGE PRESSURE TOLD IN BRENT'S ANNULMENT SUIT Los Angeles Times 14 Aug 1937: 3.
  49. ^ GEORGE BRENT'S. ANNULMENT PLEA DENIED BY COURT Los Angeles Times 14 Sep 1937: A1.
  50. ^ "TOY HOWARTH'S Own Full STORY". The Australian Women's Weekly. 5 (19). Australia, Australia. 16 October 1937. p. 4. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  51. ^ WIFE SUES GEORGE BRENT: Constance Worth, Who Fought Annulment, Now Asks Divorce New York Times ]24 Nov 1937: 19.
  52. ^ Denis O’Brien (1982) The Weekly. p. 69. Penguin Books Australia. ISBN 0-14-006566-0
  53. ^ "CONSTANCE WORTH CITED IN DIVORCE". The Daily News. LXIV (22, 078). Western Australia. 11 January 1946. p. 18 (HOME EDITION). Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  54. ^ "Sydney's Talking About—". The Sydney Morning Herald (34, 204). New South Wales, Australia. 7 August 1947. p. 12. Retrieved 29 September 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  55. ^ Amber Sloan (1998) "Jocelyn Howarth death" BONZA National Cinema and Television Database, RMIT University Archived 10 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit