Constance Towers in The Horse Soldiers (1959)
|Born||Constance Mary Towers
20 May 1933
Whitefish, Montana, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Eugene McGrath (1959-1966) (divorced); 2 children
John Gavin (1974-present); 2 stepchildren
|Children||Christina Gavin (b. 1960)
Maria Gavin (b. 1963)
Constance Mary Towers (born 20 May 1933) is an American actress and singer. In a six-decade career in films, television and on stage, important parts have included the role of Anna in a Broadway revival of The King and I, several leading film roles, and such popular television roles as kind-hearted matriarch Clarissa McCandless in Capitol and villainous Helena Cassadine on General Hospital.
Towers was born in Whitefish, Montana, the daughter of Ardath L. (née Reynolds) and Harry J. Towers (both born in Ireland according to the 1940 U.S. census). According to her official website, she was offered a contract with Paramount Pictures at age 11, but the offer was declined by her parents. She later attended Juilliard School of Music and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She studied singing with well known voice teacher Beverley Peck Johnson.
After several film, television and stage roles (including a West Coast tour of Guys and Dolls), Towers made her Broadway debut playing the title role in the short-lived 1965 musical, Anya, and appeared as Julie in a 1966 production of Show Boat at Lincoln Center. She also starred in Carousel in 1966 and The Sound of Music in 1967. She played Anna Leonowens in 1968 briefly, and later opposite Yul Brynner in a long-running revival of The King and I on tour and then on Broadway (1976–1978).  Clive Barnes praised Towers in the role, and theatre writer John Kenrick calls her performance on the 1977 cast album "great". In 1985, she played the role of Phyllis in a tour of Stephen Sondheim's Follies with Tony Award-winning actress Judy Kaye cast as Sally.
Towers starred in number of movies, including The Horse Soldiers (1959) opposite John Wayne, Sergeant Rutledge (1960), Shock Corridor (1963), Fate Is the Hunter, and The Naked Kiss (1964). Having portrayed sophisticated ladies in the past, Towers was cast against type in two lurid roles by writer-director Samuel Fuller, as an exotic dancer in Shock Corridor and as a prostitute with a shaved head who kills a man in The Naked Kiss.
Towers's first television appearance was in 1948 on the Ed Sullivan Show. She starred in several television soap operas, playing Marian Hiller, the wheelchair-bound wife of Dr. Sanford Hiller in Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1971-72); John Abbott's former secretary, Audrey North, on The Young and the Restless (1996) and Madame Julianna Deschanel on Sunset Beach (1997). She had a starring as noble widow Clarissa McCandless in Capitol (1982-1987, the show's entire run), playing rival to the scheming matriarch Myrna Cleggg (Carolyn Jones, Marla Adams, Marj Dusay) in trying to see her son succeed in politics and the long-term love of powerful Senator Mark Denning (Ed Nelson). A memorable storyline had her being shot by Mark's mentally ill wife Paula (Julie Adams) and later finding out that her husband Baxter (Ron Harper) was still alive. For this part, she received a Soap Opera Digest Nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Her best-known soap part is as villainous Helena Cassadine, a role originated by Elizabeth Taylor, on General Hospital which she began playing late in 1997, continuing on and off ever since.  During her stint, it was revealed that Helena had murdered the mistress of her husband Mikkos, slicing her throat in full view of Alexis Davis (Nancy Lee Grahn) who was Mikkos's illegitimate daughter. She was also involved in the deaths of several other major characters on the show in her efforts to protect the Cassadine legacy, making Helena perhaps the most dangerous woman on soaps. In 2001, a storyline involving Helena's bringing late son Stavros (Robert Kelker Kelly) back from the dead was ended early because of the 9/11 attacks and certain similarities about terrorism where the storyline had been slowly heading. While her appearances were greatly reduced, Constance would appear as storyline dictated, even becoming a cohort of the not-quite-as-villainous Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliot) to keep Emily Quartermaine from marrying her grandson, Nikolas. The role appeared to end in early 2013 when her character was allegedly shot to death by longtime rival Luke Spencer. Constance made several "flashback" appearances on the show after the character died, and in 2014 was revealed to have been brought back to life, being crucial in a storyline where Luke developed a second personality and utilized Helena in his schemes to take over ELQ. While that storyline ended in early 2015, Towers returned as part of Anthony Geary's sendoff on July 9th.
Towers guest-starred in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Forsaken" in 1993. She has had guest roles on a number of popular television programs, including five episodes of Perry Mason. In her first two appearances she played the murderer: Jonny Baker in "The Case of the Missing Melody" (1961) and Esther Metcalfe in "The Case of the Prankish Professor" (1963). She also appeared in Designing Women, Frasier, Baywatch and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Other television roles include State Trooper, Hawaii Five-O, The Rockford Files, L.A. Law, The 4400, and Cold Case.
Towers was first married to Eugene McGrath, and since 1974 has been married to actor and former ambassador to Mexico John Gavin. She has two children from her first marriage and two stepchildren by her marriage to Gavin.
|1955||Bring Your Smile Along||Nancy Willows|
|1959||The Horse Soldiers||Miss Hannah Hunter of Greenbriar|
|1960||Sergeant Rutledge||Mary Beecher|
|1964||Fate Is the Hunter||Peg Burke|
|1964||The Naked Kiss||Kelly|
|1974||Once in Her Life||Joan Baldwin||Television film
Nominated – Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Special Program
|1985||Fast Forward||Jessie Granger|
|1991||Memories of Midnight||Television film|
|1992||The Nutt House||Mrs. Henderson|
|1992||The Sands of Time||Television film|
|1994||The Next Karate Kid||Louisa Pierce|
|1995||Thunder in Paradise 3||Cavanna|
|1997||The Relic||Mrs. Blaisedale|
|1998||A Perfect Murder||Sandra Bradford|
|2008||The Awakening of Spring||Mrs. Gable|
|2013||A Fuller Life||Herself||Documentary film|
|2015||Aghápe||Mature Leean||Short film|
|1952||Tales of Tomorrow||Martha||Episode: "Seeing-Eye Surgeon"|
|1957||State Trooper||Doris Woodley||Episode: "Beef ala Murder"|
|1958||Mike Hammer||Jean Barr||Episode: "Overdose of Lead"|
|1957-1958||The Bob Cummings Show||Patricia Plumber||Episodes: "Bob Gives Psychology Lessons" and "Bob's Forgotten Fiancée"|
|1960||Adventures in Paradise||Laura Knight||Episode: "Sink or Swim"|
|1961||Zane Grey Theater||Beth Woodfield||Episode: "Knight of the Sun"|
|1964||The Outer Limits||Laura James||Episode: "The Duplicate Man"|
|1965||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Louise Menke||Episode: "Exit from a Plane in Flight"|
|1961-1965||Perry Mason||Various roles||5 episodes|
|1971-1972||Love Is a Many Splendored Thing||Marian Hiller||Series regular|
|1975||Hawaii Five-O||Mrs. Thorncrest||Episode: "Death's Name Is Sam"|
|1977||Lanigan's Rabbi||Vinnie Barcas||Episode: "In Hot Weather, the Crime Rate Soars"|
|1979||The Rockford Files||IRS Agent Sally Sternhagen||Episode: "The Big Cheese"|
|1979||Fantasy Island||Shirley Forbush||Episode: "Hit Man/The Swimmer"|
|1981||Fantasy Island||Maggie Dunphy||Episode: "Perfect Husband, The/Volcano"|
|1982-1987||Capitol||Clarissa McCandless||Series regular|
|1986||On Wings of Eagles||Margot Perot||Miniseries|
|1987||Murder, She Wrote||Margaret Witworth||Episode: "Murder, She Spoke"|
|1988||The Loner||Kate Shane||Pilot|
|1987-1988||L.A. Law||Charlotte Kelsey||Episodes: "Rohner vs. Gradinger" and "Full Marital Jacket"|
|1989||MacGyver||Francine Leyland||Episode: "Ma Dalton"|
|1989||Midnight Caller||Teresa Chandler||Episode: "Blood Red"|
|1990||Designing Women||Louise Pollard||Episode: "The Mistress"|
|1991||Matlock||Alice Windemere||Episode: "The Suspect"|
|1992||Baywatch||Maggie James||Episode: "Sea of Flames"|
|1992||2000 Malibu Road||Camilla O'Keefe||Series regular, 6 episodes|
|1992||Civil Wars||Harriet Guilford||Episode: "Das Boat House"|
|1993||Star Trek: Deep Space Nine||Taxco||Episode: "The Forsaken"|
|1994||Frasier||Clarice Warner||Episode: "Slow Tango in South Seattle"|
|1994||Thunder in Paradise||Cavanna||Episodes: "Deadly Lessons: Part 1" and "Deadly Lessons: Part 2"|
|1994||Silk Stalkings||Karen Krane||Episode: "Ask the Dust"|
|1995||Caroline in the City||Barbara||Episode: "Caroline and the Folks"|
|1995||High Society||Boatie||Episode: "Tomb with a View"|
|1996||The Young and the Restless||Audrey North||Recurring role|
|1997||Sunset Beach||Madame Julianna Deschanel||Recurring role, 9 episodes|
|1997–2007, 2009–13, 2014—present||General Hospital||Helena Cassadine||Series regular (1997-2002), Recurring guest star (2003—)
Nominated – Daytime Emmy Award for America's Favorite Villain (2002)
|1998||Kelly Kelly||Kate||Episode: "The Kilt Show"|
|2000||Providence||Candice Whitman||Episode: "Syd in Wonderland"|
|2006||Criminal Minds||Deb Mason||Episode: "Riding the Lightning"|
|2007||The 4400||Audrey Parker||Episode: "Audrey Parker's Come and Gone"|
|2009||Cold Case||Caroline Kemp||Episode: "Libertyville"|
|2013||1600 Penn||Bunny Thoroughgood||Episode: "So You Don't Want to Dance"|
|2014||Men at Work||Mary||Episode: "Suburban Gibbs"|
- Constance Towers' IMDb profile
- "Constance Towers profile at FilmReference.com". FilmReference.com. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- "Constance Towers Playing Helena Cassadine on General Hospital - Soaps.com". Soaps.sheknows.com. Retrieved 2013-10-01.
- Anthony Tommasini (January 22, 2001). "Beverley Peck Johnson, 96, Voice Teacher". The New York Times.
- "Biography - Constance Towers". American Theatre Wing. Retrieved 2013-10-01.
- Barnes, Clive. "King and I, reminder of golden age", The New York Times, May 3, 1977, p. 50, accessed January 30, 2014 (subscription required)
- Kenrick, John. "Comparative CD Reviews: Part III. The King and I" (Copyright 1998–2003), accessed January 30, 2011
- "Constance Towers Credits". Tvguide.com. 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2013-10-01.
- Los Angeles Music Center: Blue Ribbon: Board of Directors
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Constance Towers.|
- Official website
- Constance Towers at the Internet Movie Database
- Constance Towers at the Internet Broadway Database
- Interview, July 21, 2014