[Narrow Focus] Part One: American Dreams
Timeline, chapter previews, cast of characters, related stories . . .
|Cynthia Giles||Nov 22, 2020|
Part 1 covers key events up to 1950, exploring Constance’s early life, her relationship with Elia Kazan, her friendship with Shelley Winters, her personal qualities, and her career in Hollywood. It also discusses the personal and professional options available to women during this period and the culture of wartime Hollywood.
Chapter 1: Ambitions
Broadway, Hollywood—and Elia Kazan
A little about Constance’s early life, then: Starting out as a teen in New York theater—from chorus dancer and usherette to minor dramatic roles. How she met Shelley Winters and Elia Kazan. Her affair with Kazan—first and second parts—plus a lot about his life and career. How Constance was “discovered” and promoted by producer Samuel Goldwyn. The move to Hollywood, the process of becoming a “starlet,” and what happened to her first two movies.
Chapter 2: Unraveling
Careers, affairs—and the question of Constance
A change in fortunes. Sister Doris and best friend Shelley Winters (also now in Hollywood) are making career progress in 1945. But Constance has been dropped from her Goldwyn contract, and though she picks up a few unremarkable parts from other studios, her career is faltering. Kazan, who had joined her in Hollywood, drops her abruptly (again)—but he still can’t get over her. So the second half of Chapter 2 delves into what made Constance such a compelling person.
Chapter 3: Reset
Coming soon . . . .
Cast of Characters: American Dreams
Major players enter
Shelley Winters—Oscar-winning actress, Constance’s lifelong close friend
Doris Dowling—Constance’s sister, noted for several successful roles as a supporting actress
Elia Kazan—Celebrated stage and film director, founder of the Actors Studio, Constance’s lover (most years) from 1937 to 1945
Molly Day Thacher Kazan—Minor playwright, wife of Elia Kazan from 1932 until her death in 1963
Burgess Meredith—Well-known character actor, member of the Actors Studio
Billy Wilder—Successful film director, Doris Dowling’s lover, 1944-1945
Robert Capa—Famed photojournalist, occasional friend of Doris and Constance
John Houseman—Noted producer, director and actor, longtime friend of the Dowling sisters
Samuel Goldwyn—Powerful Hollywood producer
American Dreams: Related Stories
[Sidelight] The Smith-Dowling Family: A Brief Genealogy