Constance Cummings, Broadway and London Star, Passes Away at 95

Constance Cummings, the elegant stage and screen actress who won a Tony Award for her performance in Wings, has passed away at the age of 95. She died on November 23rd in Oxfordshire, England.

Born in Seattle as Constance Halverstadt (Cummings was her mothers' maiden name), the actress made her stage debut in a San Diego stock production of Seventh Heaven and then toured two years later as a chorine in the Gershwin musical Oh, Kay! She made her Broadway debut in the chorus of Treasure Girl, and over the next few decades, Cummings appeared on Broadway in This Man's Town, Accent on Youth, Young Madame Conti, Madame Bovary, If I Were You, The Rape of the Belt, Hamlet and Wings. It was the latter show, a play by Arthur Kopit, that netted her a 1979 Tony Award; she played a woman battling to regain a sense of identity and control after a stroke.

Cummings, who made her London stage debut in Sour Grapes in 1934, became a beloved fixture on West End stages--she played Mary Tyrone opposite Laurence Olivier's James Tyrone in The National Theatre production of Eugene O'Neill's A Long Day's Journey Into Night; the play was preserved for TV. She also won plaudits for her 1964 performance as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Other London stage credits included Saint Joan, Romeo and Juliet, No Exit, The Cherry Orchard, Hamlet and The Bacchae. In 1974, she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her work in contemporary drama and the classics.

Cummings, who acted in films from 1931, appeared in Movie Crazy, Washington Merry-Go-Round, Broadway Through a Keyhole, Seven Sinners, David Lean's Blithe Spirit, Into the Blue, The Intimate Stranger, John and Julie and others. The 1986 Agatha Christie TV mystery "Dead Man's Folly" was her last film credit.

Cummings, who was married to playwright Benn Wolfe Levy from 1933 through his death in 1973, is survived by their son and daughter.

Next on Stage

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