Number 6 in Miss Marcia’s Top 10 Hollywood Scandals series is about Little Women‘s Joan Bennett and her disastrous affair with her Hollywood agent.
Hollywood Scandal #6
Family members were often part of Hollywood’s history – the Barrymore siblings, the Fairbanks father and son, the Talmadge sisters, the Gish sisters and the Bennett sisters: Joan and Constance Bennett.
Joan, after a successful theatre career and one marriage, was working in Hollywood, and was cast in Little Women as Amy, with Katharine Hepburn as Jo, and director George Cukor. She met Walter Wanger, the producer, and eventually married him.
During this time her agent was Jennings Lang. At some point Wanger began to suspect that Lang and Bennett were having an affair, and he lined up with a gun, according to Hollywood lore, and shot Lang ‘in the balls’. Historical documents are not quite as colourful, but the end result was that Lang was shot in the groin and Wanger did jail time.
Lang recovered, Wanger returned to a successful career, but Bennett’s on-camera career was permanently damaged. She did, however, continue onstage successfully, and in later life starred in the television series, Dark Shadows.
- Both Hepburn and Bennett also auditioned for the role of Scarlett O’Hara.
- Dark Shadows was reinvented recently as a Johnny Depp movie. It featured four of the surviving members of the original tv show.
- Joan’s sister Constance Bennett also had a successful movie career, and was financially astute and invested wisely. Her biggest scandal was five husbands.
These scandals are drawn from many, many years of reading biographies and memoirs of old Hollywood identities along with scandal magazines, gossip magazines and more recently, television documentaries. None are quoted but I draw on the writings of David Niven, Garson Kanin, Kenneth Anger among others, with some facts enhanced by David Shipman, Wikipedia and various autobiographies. – Marcia Carroll
Miss Marcia’s Top 10 Hollywood Scandals
Part 1: Gone With The Wind
Part 2: Clark Gable’s Love Child
Part 3: William Hearst & Citizen Kane
Part 4: The Charlie Chaplin shooting?
Part 5: John Barrymore’s showgirl affair
Part 6: The Bennett sisters
Part 7: Fatty and the Wild Party
Part 8: Lana Turner & the murder trial
Part 9: Mary Astor’s 50 Shades of Grey…
Part 10: Hepburn & Tracy