[Background] The Dowling Family

Ireland, New York City--and Hollywood

Constance’s mother, Mabel, was one of three sisters. Their maternal grandparents, the Kerins, had immigrated from Ireland to New York City, where their daughter Frances married Eugene Dowling.

According to a note sent by Grace A. Tibbetts to the Irish America website, Mabel’s two sisters were dancers in the Ziegfeld company, and her brother served in World War I. Tibbetts, who identifies herself as one of Mabel’s grandchildren (presumably, her father was one of Constance’s two brothers), says she knows little about the family history because Mabel “married beneath her” and was disowned.

Mabel Dowling married Harry Smith. For some reason, their two sons (Robert and Richard) went by the last name Smith, while the two daughters are now known as Constance and Doris Dowling. The girls may have taken their mother’s maiden name when they decided to pursue careers in show business, since Smith is so common.

No record of what happened to Harry Smith, but Mabel is known to have married a second time. Although the other three siblings were born in New York City, Doris was born in Detroit, Michigan.

Although I have never seen this written anywhere else—according to the 1930 Census data (as cited on a Geneanet family tree maintained by distant relative Tim Dowling), Constance and Robert were twins, born on July 24, 1920.

According to the same data, Mabel and her children lived in the Borough of Queens in 1930. Doris had been born in 1923 and Richard in 1929.

After Constance and Doris had established themselves in California, Mabel moved out to join them. She died in Los Angeles in 1996. Robert lived until 2003, but Richard probably died sometime before 1969.