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April 22, 1891|
Milaca, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||November 4, 1932
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Stage and screen actress|
Bennett appeared in circus performances during her childhood. Her father was Billie Bennett, owner of a circus. He trained her to be a trapeze performer after she spent some years in the Sacred Heart Convent in Minneapolis, Minnesota. By age thirteen she was appearing in public. Performances with stock companies led Bennett to Broadway, where she appeared in theatrical productions staged by David Belasco.
Bennett was working as a film actress by 1913, and was cast in numerous one-reel shorts by small east coast film companies. She appeared in minor motion pictures like the western film A Ticket to Red Horse Gulch (Mutual 1914). She starred in several full-length films by the Triangle Film Corporation, including The Lonely Woman (1918). She also appeared on the east coast United States Moving Picture Corporation's film Flesh and Spirit (1922).
She made the move to Hollywood before Samuel Goldwyn selected her from among seventy-three actresses for the leading role in Stella Dallas (1925). While filming the movie her son, sixteen-year-old William Howard Macy, died. Macy had posed as Bennett's brother for some time because of her fear that her employers might find out her true age. She was actually thirty-four rather than twenty-four, which she had claimed to be.
After playing the mother role in Stella Dallas Bennett was typecast for the remainder of her film career. She later appeared in Mother Machree (1928), The Battle of the Sexes (1928), The Iron Mask (1929), Courage (1930), Recaptured Love (1930) and The Big Shot (1931).
Bennett was married three times. Jack Oaker, a sailor at the San Pedro, California submarine base, was married to her when she worked with the Triangle Film Corporation, in 1918. Her second husband was William Macy of La Crosse, Wisconsin. She later married film director Fred Windermere.
Illness and death
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During a break in her film career Bennett performed in vaudeville at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania theater. She collapsed on stage and was eventually checked into a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania hospital. There she underwent blood transfusions and was able to continue acting briefly. In September 1932 she was rushed by plane from New York following a relapse of cancer which she had been suffering from for two and a half years.
She died that November at the age of 41 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, California. Late in her life Bennett came to believe in the power of prayer. A practitioner of Christian Science influenced her. She is interred in the Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood.
Bennett has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Los Angeles Times, Found Unconscious, July 25, 1918, p. I10.
- Los Angeles Times, Death Takes Star of Stella Dallas, November 5, 1932, p. A1.
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