22 January 1928|
|Died||30 June 2003
Islington, London, England
|Bryan Forbes (m. 1951-1955, divorced)|
Constance Smith (22 January 1928 - 30 June 2003) was an Irish film actress, and contract player of 20th Century Fox in the 1950s.
Smith was born into a poor family as the first of 11 children. Her father was a foot soldier, working for the Irish Army, and he died when Constance was 11. Her mother was not able to support all her children and Constance was sent to a convent. When Smith won a Dublin beauty contest at age 16 to find the girl who looked most like Hedy Lamarr, Smith's mother sent the photo to a film studio. As a result, Smith won a screen test, and although reluctant to seize the opportunity, she was pushed into the film industry by her mother, according to the actress.
Smith moved to London, where she briefly joined the Rank Organisation. Studio executives were unamused by Smith's attitude, and she was eventually fired before she made her breakthrough. She moved back to London, studied acting and played bit parts in several British B films. In 1950, she was first noticed after playing an Irish maid in The Mudlark. Impressed with her performance, 20th Century Fox offered her a contract. Upon her arrival in Hollywood, producer Darryl F. Zanuck cast her opposite Tyrone Power in I'll Never Forget You (1951). However, he soon decided Smith was not experienced enough and replaced her with Ann Blyth.
She was most active in 1950s, appearing in Hollywood features such as Man in the Attic and Treasure of the Golden Condor (1953) and Impulse (1954). Smith was a presenter at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1952.
Whether too emotionally frail to surmount the pressures of stardom, or simply not talented enough to be thought of as star material, Constance never made it beyond leading lady status. By the time her contract expired in 1953, Smith had undergone an abortion forced upon her by the studio, and the first of her three marriages was on the ropes. As the years went on and Smith failed to get the parts she felt were commensurate with her abilities, she began an embittered descent into a life of drugs and alcohol. Constance last acted in a run of minor films made in Italy between 1955 and 1959, including a role as Lucretia Borgia in La congiura dei Borgia (1959). None of these did anything to resuscitate her failing career. During her time in Rome, she first attempted suicide by overdosing on barbiturates.
She made her last film appearance in 1959.
Smith married English film director Bryan Forbes in 1951; they divorced in 1955. In 1962 she was sentenced to three months in prison for stabbing her boyfriend, the documentary maker and film historian Paul Rotha. On 4 February 1968, she stabbed Rotha for the second time and was charged with attempted murder. She and Rotha married in 1974. She also tried several times again to kill herself. Her last decades were spent, dissipated, in and out of hospitals. When able to get herself together for brief periods, she worked as a cleaner.
Smith died in June 2003 in Islington, London. She was 75.