Dark Shadows: Reincarnation Mark B. Perry Reveals the

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Author Topic: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett  (Read 1198 times)

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Offline Gothick

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Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« on: May 13, 2008, 12:06:45 AM »
Dear fans,

this past weekend, I had time to catch up with some of my DS DVDs.  I was "test driving" my copy of set three (in the Barnabas series), and found clips from an interview with Lela Swift obviously dating to late 1990 or early 1991 (I noticed that several of the interviews on the early sets seem to be from this period). 

Lela only spent significant time discussing one actor on the show--Joan Bennett.  Lela praised how down-to-earth, warm, gracious, and generous Joan was.  She mentioned some things I had never heard discussed before.  For one thing, Lela said that Joan would arrrive, as would all the actresses, without any makeup because they needed to start out that way so the makeup for the cameras would take properly.  She said that even with just "her own eyes and her own skin," Joan always looked beautiful, even at 8 a.m.!  She also said that Joan always wanted to help, and that included helping to set up chairs for the first script reading of the day, AND running lines with anyone who needed to do so--not just people who were in her own scenes!  Lela recalled that she exclaimed to Joan at one point that she would have made a great production assistant!

Lela spoke so warmly about Joan, and her feelings for our very own "mistress of Collinwood" seemed quite genuine.  I thought it was worth mentioning for those who don't get to see the discs.

G.

Offline MagnusTrask

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2008, 12:27:22 AM »
Thanks.    As a kid, my sister and I tended to assume JB must be full of herself, but that was based only on the demeanor of her characters (often aloof), and the fact that she got top billing over Jonathan Frid, no matter how small a role her character might be playing in the storyline.   We were kids, forgive us!
"One can never go wrong with weapons and drinks as fashion accessories."-- the eminent and clearly quotable Dark Shadows fan and board mod known as Mysterious Benefactor

Offline Charles_Ellis

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2008, 12:53:18 AM »
Far from it- from all I've heard from over the years, Joan was a real trouper- being from a theatrical family she knew all too well that there were no small parts, only small actors.  I remember an anecdote about Joan getting out of a cab to order a hot dog for a fellow passenger from a nearby vendor.  She got back to the cab and confessed she'd never done that before.  The passenger was someone from DS- I can't remember if it was an actor or a crew/production member. 

She did confess in later interviews that she loved being a movie star and its perks, but on DS she never put on airs- this lady did her part and everyone followed her example.  That's one reason why for the most part things went smoothly on the set of DS, unlike some other soaps of the period (the backstage feuds at Another World are legendary and books have been written about them!).

Offline Lydia

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2008, 08:14:32 AM »
I liked that Lela Swift interview.  In interviews on previous DVDs, everybody simply said Joan Bennett was wonderful, to the point where I had the impression that this was the party line, and woe betide anybody who said otherwise.  Lela Swift gave solid reasons for thinking well of Bennett.

Offline Julianka7

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2008, 01:13:25 PM »
Joan Bennet sounds like a true lady and wonderful person.

Offline michael c

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2008, 06:18:44 PM »
as lydia mentions all of those interviewed for the dvd's speak of ms.bennett in glowing terms...even people like kate jackson,whom if i recall,actually shared very little screentime with her.

even when her characters were not on the front-burner joan is for me one of the perhaps dozen or so touchstone actors on the show.when i think about d.s. liz is one of the first characters that comes to mind.
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Offline Miss_Winthrop

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2008, 06:39:53 PM »
even when her characters were not on the front-burner joan is for me one of the perhaps dozen or so touchstone actors on the show.when i think about d.s. liz is one of the first characters that comes to mind.

I can't say enough about how much I like Joan Bennett's performance as Elizabeth.  She was certainly a very classy lady and one of the top actors on DS IMO.  I'm trying to think of a female from today's actors who could portray Elizabeth in the Johnny Depp Barnabas movie as well as JB did.  Joan Bennett was such an elegant actress like so many other actresses from the 30s, 40s and 50s but unfortunately seem to be lacking in many of today's actresses. There's got to be at least one actress out there who could pull it off.
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Offline Brian

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2008, 04:41:33 AM »
While I can not speak specifically about Joan Bennett, I can speak about a couple of other women who worked in Hollywood during Ms. Bennett's tenure there:  Kim Hunter and Phyllis Thaxter.  I, and one of my colleagues, worked with both Ms. Hunter and Ms. Thaxter back in the mid 1990s in Vero Beach, Fl, at Riverside Theatre.  Kim did "The Belle of Amhurst," and Phyllis did "Driving Miss Daisy" and also recorded narration for our production of "Peter Pan."  Both of these ladies were very "unaffected" and "down-to-earth."  I was also pleased to become friends with Phyllis, at least while we both lived and worked in Vero.  I can only imagine that Kim and Phyllis represented the best of what the studio system trained in its stars, that is humility, honesty and confidence in their talent.  Joan Bennett also seems to have projected those same qualities.  From my experience (and I've said this before), most stars are real people and just like you and me, and that's the joy of meeting our DS Stars...they're just like us (my personal interactions have been with Marie Wallace, Keith Prentice, Keene Curtis, Roy Thinnes [DS91]) but very friendly and accessible!  (And we should still honor them with some reverence...okay?)
Brian

Offline MagnusTrask

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2008, 05:07:12 AM »
Hi Brian, wondered where you were....
"One can never go wrong with weapons and drinks as fashion accessories."-- the eminent and clearly quotable Dark Shadows fan and board mod known as Mysterious Benefactor

Offline Brian

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2008, 02:57:00 AM »
Hi, Magnus, still here, just very busy and looking for a retreat from work.  Hope you were able to get that DVD player hooked up, sorry I couldn't be more help.

Brian

Offline loril54

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2008, 11:02:23 PM »
JB just radiated class. But she was very relaxed I think. She had lived through her own trials.
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Offline MagnusTrask

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Re: Lela Swift on Joan Bennett
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2008, 03:05:11 AM »
Hi, Magnus, still here, just very busy and looking for a retreat from work.  Hope you were able to get that DVD player hooked up, sorry I couldn't be more help.

Thanks again!   The moment I got a DVD player from you, I heard talk about the "death of the DVD"!    I don't think there was anything to that article people were quoting, but I tend to think that the moment I get a bit of relatively new technology, it's a signal that the rest of the world had better move on from it, because I'm always years behind everyone else...

By the way, half of my jokes can sound like complaints, and I only find this out later after someone has been offended.    This is just a joke.     I'm very appreciative....
"One can never go wrong with weapons and drinks as fashion accessories."-- the eminent and clearly quotable Dark Shadows fan and board mod known as Mysterious Benefactor