Constance Worth

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Constance Worth
Constance Worth 1938.jpg
Constance Worth in Wages of Sin (1938)
Born Jocelyn Howarth
(1911-08-19)19 August 1911[1]
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died 18 October 1963(1963-10-18) (aged 52)
Los Angeles County, California, U.S.
Alma mater St. Gabriel's School
Ascham School
Years active 1933-1949
Spouse(s) George Brent (1937-1937) (divorced)
William A. Pierce (1946-1963) (her death)

Constance Worth (19 August 1911 – 18 October 1963)[1] was an Australian actress who became a Hollywood star in the late 1930s.

Early life and career[edit]

She was born Jocelyn Howarth in Sydney, youngest of three daughters of banker Moffatt Howarth and his wife Mary Ellen (nee Dumbrell).[2][3] She was also known in Australia as "Joy."[4][5] She attended Ascham School and a finishing school before developing a career on stage in Australia and New Zealand with J. C. Williamson Ltd.[6][7][8]

Film career in Australia[edit]

As Jocelyn Howarth, she experienced success in Ken Hall’s films The Squatter's Daughter (1933) and The Silence of Dean Maitland (1934). Cinesound paid for her to tour Australia as their rising star.[9] 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."[10] 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...."[10]

Move to Hollywood[edit]

In April 1936 she sailed for the United States and Hollywood. After six months of unsuccessful effort, including a near fatal incident with a gas stove in her flat,[11] she signed a contract with RKO Pictures, taking the leading female roles as Constance Worth, in China Passage and Windjammer.[12] The change of name was related to her first role with established Hollywood actor Vinton Hayworth. After Windjammer, RKO offered her no more films. Her next role was in Willis Kent's 1938 exploitation quickie, The Wages of Sin, playing a young woman lured into prostitution. For the next twelve years she appeared in a mix of leading, supporting and uncredited roles in B films. In mid 1939 she returned to act on stage in Australia, but went back to the U.S. before the end of the year.[13][14] In 1941 she appeared in an uncredited minor role in Alfred Hitchock’s Suspicion, and in the same year, a leading role in the gangster B film Borrowed Hero. Her last film was a minor role in the 1949 Johnny Mack Brown western Western Renegades. 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 eventuate.[15]

Personal life[edit]

In May 1937 she married US actor George Brent, but after only a few weeks they separated, and a divorce was granted the same year. The marriage and drama of the divorce attracted enormous newspaper publicity in Australia.[16] 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).[17]

In January 1946 she was again in newspapers, cited in divorce proceedings by the wife of Hollywood scriptwriter W. A. Pierce. Both denied any impropriety, but within a year of his divorce they married.[18]

In 1947 Australian newspapers reported that she had been severely injured in a car accident and had undergone plastic surgery.[19] Constance Worth died, aged 52, in Hollywood on 18 October 1963, an “ordinary housewife”, reportedly from anemia. Ken Hall remarked "unhappy circumstances" surrounded her death.[20]

She is occasionally mistaken for a British silent era film actress of the same name, active 1919–1922.[21]

Select Filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 26 August 1911, p. 14 [1]
  2. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Thursday 22 September 1921, p. 6 [2]
  3. ^ Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), Wednesday 15 November 1933, page 8[3]
  4. ^ Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ U.S. immigration records on her re-entry to the US on 13 October 1939, suggest her actual birth name was Enid Joyce and confirm her year of birth was 1911
  6. ^ The Argus 23 August 1934
  7. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 1934
  8. ^ Terry Ramsaye(Ed)(1948)1948-1948 International Film Almanac. p. 416. Quigley Publications, California, USA
  9. ^ See for example Sydney Morning Herald 7 December 1933
  10. ^ a b Amber Sloan (1998) "Jocelyn Howarth" BONZA National Cinema and Television Database, RMIT University
  11. ^ The Mail, 14 August 1937
  12. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 31 October 1936
  13. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 1 July, 1939
  14. ^ Joy Howarth arriving home on the SS Monterey, July, 1939. State Library of New South Wales image
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 21 May 1937
  17. ^ Denis O’Brien (1982) The Weekly. p. 69. Penguin Books Australia. ISBN 0-14-006566-0
  18. ^ The Argus 11 January 1946
  19. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 1947
  20. ^ Amber Sloan (1998) "Jocelyn Howarth death" BONZA National Cinema and Television Database, RMIT University
  21. ^ see for example

External links[edit]