19 April 1904|
Bath, Somerset, England, UK
|Died||26 December 1992
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Other names||Constance Emmeline Carpenter|
|Known for||Musical theatre|
Constance Emmeline Carpenter (19 April 1904 – 26 December 1992) was an English-born American film and musical theatre actress.
Carpenter was born in Bath, Somerset, in 1904,[n 1] the daughter of Harold Carpenter and his wife Mabel Anne, née Cottrell, music hall artists. Her first appearance on stage was with fellow-pupils of the Lila Field Academy, a stage school whose alumni included Noël Coward and Ninette de Valois.
Her debut as an adult performer was in the C. B. Cochran revue Fun of the Fayre in 1921. She made her Broadway debut in André Charlot's Revue of 1924. She remained in America for five years, appearing in The Charlot Revue of 1926 in 1925–26, after which she played Mae in George and Ira Gershwin's Oh, Kay! in 1926 and Alice Carter in the Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart and Herbert Fields musical A Connecticut Yankee in which she played for a year, from November 1927.
In 1929 Carpenter returned to London, appearing in Cochran and Charlot productions. She appeared in pantomime at the Lyceum with Naughton and Gold in the Christmas 1930 season. Throughout the 1930s she divided her time between English and American engagements. In 1938 and 1939 she appeared in Terence Rattigan's long-running French Without Tears at the Criterion Theatre, London.
Carpenter's most notable Broadway credit was The King and I in 1952 first as understudy to Gertrude Lawrence and then as the leading lady when Lawrence died during the run. In 1954 Carpenter appeared in London in An Evening with Beatrice Lillie. Her final Broadway appearance was in the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee play The Incomparable Max (1971), based on stories by Max Beerbohm.
Carpenter film credits were limited to Just for a Song (1929), Two Worlds (1930), and Brown Sugar (1931).
Notes and references
- Carpenter's Who's Who in the Theatre entry knocks two years off her age, giving her birth date as 1906.
- Gaye, pp. 430–431
- New York Times obituary, 1 January 1993
- "The Little Theatre", The Times, 28 January 1911, p. 12; and "Dame Ninette de Valois OM", The Daily Telegraph, 9 March 2001
- "Robinson Crusoe", The Times, 18 December 1930, p. 12
- "Theatres", The Times, 28 November 1938, p. 12
- "Simon And Laura", The Times, 22 November 1954, p. 2
- Gaye, Freda (ed.) (1967). Who's Who in the Theatre (fourteenth ed.). London: Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons. OCLC 5997224.