Actress Joan Bennett, whose 50-year career took her from innocent blonde roles to sultry temptress parts on television, stage and screen, died Friday. She was 80.
Bennett, of Scarsdale, near New York City, was declared dead on arrival at White Plains Hospital Friday evening, said nursing supervisor Laura Siebert. She died of a heart attack while having dinner, said her daughter, Shelley Wanger.Bennett, who was born in Palisades, N.J., made her acting debut in 1928 alongside her father, Richard Bennett, in the Broadway play "Jarnegan."
Among her 75 film credits since 1933 are the classic "Little Women," in which she played one of the sisters opposite Katharine Hepburn.
In Vincente Minnelli's comedy "Father of the Bride," Bennett played a nurturing mother, shedding the husky voiced presence she had developed for Fritz Lang's thriller films. In Minnelli's 1951 comedy "Father's Little Dividend," she starred opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy.
The same year, she was a protagonist in a Hollywood scandal when her then-husband, producer Walter Wanger, shot and wounded her agent, Jennings Lang, in a Los Angeles parking lot. Wanger, who served 100 days in prison for the shooting, had accused Lang of being a home-wrecker.
Bennett's film credits also include "For Heaven's Sake," and "Desire in the Dust."
"I don't think much of most of the films I made," she said in 1986. "But being a movie star was something I liked very much."
Bennett appeared on stage in "Stage Door," "Pleasure of His Company," "Fallen Angels" and "Butterflies are Free."
In 1978, she appeared in the TV movie "Suddenly Love," followed by "A House Possessed" in 1980 and "Divorce Wars" in 1981. She also played Elizabeth Collins in television's gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows," which ran from 1966 to 1971 and attracted a cult following.
The actress, who was first married when she was 16 and had four husbands and four children, is survived by her husband, David Wilde.
Miss Bennett leaves four daughters, Diana Anderson, of Los Angeles; Melinda Bena, of Chappaqua, N.Y.; Stephanie Guest, of Manhattan; and Shelley Wanger, of New York.
Her remains will be cremated and interned in Old Lyme, Conn., but the date has not yet been set, Wilde said.