Constance Worth

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Constance Worth
Constance Worth 1938.jpg
Worth in The Wages of Sin (1938)
Enid Joyce Howarth

(1911-08-19)19 August 1911
Sydney, Australia
Died18 October 1963(1963-10-18) (aged 52)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1933–1949
(m. 1937;div. 1937)

William A. Pierce
(m. 1946)

Constance Worth (born Enid Joyce Howarth; 19 August 1911 – 18 October 1963) was an Australian actress who became a Hollywood star in the late 1930s. She was also known as Jocelyn Howarth.


Early life and career

She was born in Sydney, Australia in 1911, the youngest of three daughters of businessman Moffatt Howarth and his wife Mary Ellen (née Dumbrell). [1] [2] [3] [4]

She attended Ascham School and a finishing school. [5] [6] She appeared on stage at Sydney's Independent theatre in a production of Cynara.

Film career in Australia

Jocelyn Howarth and Nancy Bird Walton, ca. 1932 - by unknown photographer. Jocelyn Howarth and Nancy Bird, ca. 1930-33 - by unknown photographer (3193615882).jpg
Jocelyn Howarth and Nancy Bird Walton, ca. 1932 – by unknown photographer.

Her film debut was in the title role in the Cinesound movie The Squatter's Daughter (1933), produced and directed by Ken G. Hall. Hall claimed Howarth's first screen test showed "light and shade, good diction, no accent and (that) she undoubtedly could act with no sign of the self-consciousness which almost always characterised the amateur." [7] The film was a financial success. [8]

In August 1933 Cinesound put her under an 18-month contract, a rarity at the time. [9] [10]

In late 1933, Smith's Weekly raved enthusiastically about the young actress; "Young Joy Howarth who leapt into publicity when she became the Squatter's Daughter a few months ago, is just the big hit nowadays...." [11]

She had a supporting role in Hall's next film, The Silence of Dean Maitland (1934), which was also a box-office success.

In June 1934 she signed a contract with J.C. Williamson Ltd for whom she appeared on stage in The Wind and the Rain by Merton Hodge. Howarth toured in the play in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. [12] [13]

Move to Hollywood

In April 1936, she sailed for the United States and Hollywood. [14] A report in the Los Angeles Times said she was going to England, but she decided to stay in the US. [15] (She later said she was stranded in the country due to a maritime strike. [16] )

On August 5 1936 it was reported she had tried to kill herself because she was "despondent about getting work", although shortly afterwards it was claimed this was an accident. [17] [18]


In October 1936 she signed a year long contract with RKO Pictures. [19] Worth tested for a film by Edward Small, Clementina. It was not made. However she was top billed in her first film for RKO: China Passage (1937), originally called Miss Customs Agent. Because she appeared opposite established Hollywood actor Vinton Hayworth, RKO decided to give her a new name "Constance Worth". [20]

In December 1936 RKO announced she would co star with Robert Donat in Son of Monte Cristo. [21] In February 1937 RKO announced her for Borrowed Time. [22] Instead she was in Windjammer (1937) which she made with George O'Brien. [23] She broke her hip during filming. [24] After Windjammer, RKO offered her no more films.

Her next role was in Willis Kent's 1938 exploitation quickie, The Wages of Sin (1938), playing a young woman lured into prostitution.

Worth had a supporting role in Mystery of the White Room (1939) at Universal. [25]

In June 1939, she returned to Australia for a three-month visit. [26] [27] She returned in late October. He name was linked romantically to Ivan Goff around this time. [28]


In August 1940 she signed a contract with Columbia. [29] She had a supporting part in Angels Over Broadway (1940) with Rita Hayworth; Worth wanted to resume her name "Joy Howarth" but it was felt this was too close to Hayworth so she kept her new stage name. [30] Columbia put her in Meet Boston Blackie (1940). [31] [32]

At PRC she had a supporting role in Criminals Within (1941), directed by Joseph H. Lewis, then she appeared in an uncredited minor role in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941). [33]

In November 1940, she reportedly signed a three-picture deal with Paramount but appears not to have made movies for this studio. [34] She lost a part in They Dare Not Love because Brent was cast. [35]

Worth was fourth billed in the gangster B film Borrowed Hero (1941) at Monogram and The Dawn Express (1942) at RKO. [36] Back at Columbia, she was billed third in Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood (1942), [37] then at Universal, she was uncredited in When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1942). In January 1942, she was linked to Clementina again. [38]

She went to work as a waitress at a drive-in restaurant, which led to an item in a gossip column and drew the attention of Harry Cohn. In December 1942, she reportedly signed a five-year contract with Columbia. [39] "It was not a star's contract by any means", she said later, "but I grabbed it very gratefully. I stayed at Columbia for about two years, but never did anything but small roles and a few leads in B pictures. In fact, I became known as 'Queen of the B's' at Columbia." [40]

Worth had a minor role in Columbia's City Without Men (1943), but she was billed third in Republic's serial G-Men vs. The Black Dragon (1943). [41] At Columbia, she had a supporting role in Let's Have Fun (1943) and She Has What It Takes (1943), then was uncredited in Crime Doctor (1943), Appointment in Berlin (1943), Dangerous Blondes (1943), My Kingdom for a Cook (1943). She had billing in The Crime Doctor's Strangest Case (1943) and had a decent role in Klondike Kate (1943), directed by William Castle. She was billed third in Who's Hugh? (1943). [42]

Worth had uncredited roles in Cover Girl (1944) and Jam Session (1944).

At Paramount, she had an uncredited role in Frenchman's Creek (1944). At Columbia, she was Charles Starrett's leading lady in the Westerns Cyclone Prairie Rangers (1944) and Sagebrush Heroes (1945). [43]

Last roles

For Sigmund Neufeld at PRC, she played a supporting part in The Kid Sister (1945) and was unbilled in Dillinger (1945) at Monogram. [44]

Worth had a supporting part in PRC's Why Girls Leave Home (1945) and Monogram's Sensation Hunters (1945), and a minor role in RKO's Deadline at Dawn (1946). In August 1945, she said "I have no desire to play romantic leads any more, though I do think I still look good enough for such roles. I'm now concentrating on character parts, similar to those that have made Claire Trevor famous. I think I can do them, and I feel they'll offer me a longer screen life than romantic leads. At least the competition won't be so stiff." [40]

She had an uncredited role in The Set-Up (1949). Her last film was a minor role in the Johnny Mack Brown Monogram Western Western Renegades (1949). [45]

Throughout her career and as late as 1961, publicity in Australia repeatedly suggested she was on the verge of signing a major studio contract again. This did not happen. [46]

Personal life

On 10 May 1937, she married Irish actor George Brent in Mexico after a courtship of six weeks. After only a few weeks, they separated, and a divorce was granted the same year. [47] Brent sought an annulment claiming that the marriage in Mexico was not legal. The case went to trial in August 1937 and was highly publicized, and Worth broke down in tears during proceedings. [48] The court ruled the marriage was legal in September. She sued for divorce in November, and it was granted in December. [49] [50] [51] [52]

The marriage and drama of the divorce attracted enormous newspaper publicity in Australia. Denis O’Brien comments that even in 1939 "the Weekly still was dredging the Howarth saga" in its report on her latest film Mystery of the White Room (1939). [53] "I didn't get a penny", she declared in 1945, "though I could have demanded $120,000 as my share of George's community property. But I was too proud then to accept money from a man who didn't want me. I'd not be so proud now." [40]

In January 1946, she was again in newspapers, cited in divorce proceedings by the wife of Hollywood scriptwriter William A. Pierce. Both denied any impropriety, but within a year of his divorce, they married. [54]

In August 1947, Australian newspapers reported that she had been severely injured in a car accident and had undergone plastic surgery. [55]


Constance Worth died, aged 52, in Hollywood on 18 October 1963, an "ordinary housewife," reportedly from anemia. Ken Hall remarked that "unhappy circumstances" surrounded her death. [56]

She occasionally is mistaken for a British silent-era stage and film actress of the same name, active from 1919 to 1922.

Partial filmography

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  1. The Sydney Morning Herald 26 August 1911, p. 14
  2. The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 22 September 1921, p. 6
  3. U.S. immigration records on her re-entry to the US on 13 October 1939, confirm her birth name as Enid Joyce and her year of birth 1911
  4. Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld), Wednesday 15 November 1933, page 8
  5. Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 1934
  6. Terry Ramsaye (Ed) (1948) 1948–1948 International Film Almanac. p. 416. Quigley Publications, California, USA
  7. Hall, Ken G (1980). Australian film, The Inside Story. Summit Books. p. 58. ISBN   0-7271-0452-7.
  8. Pike, Andrew; Cooper, Andrew (1980). Australian Film 1900-1977, A Guide to Feature Film Production. Oxford University Press. p. 216. ISBN   0-19-554213-4.
  9. "WHO ARE OUR POTENTIAL STARS?". Table Talk . Melbourne. 31 August 1933. p. 17. Retrieved 16 March 2015 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "Jocelyn Howarth Gets Contract". The Sun . No. 1584. New South Wales, Australia. 6 August 1933. p. 47. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "Catty Communications". Smith's Weekly . Vol. XV, no. 30. New South Wales, Australia. 2 September 1933. p. 21. Retrieved 21 December 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "Australian Film Actress Goes on the Stage". The Argus . No. 27, 412. Melbourne. 27 June 1934. p. 10. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "THRILLED WITH HER CHANCE". The Sydney Morning Herald . No. 30, 103. 27 June 1934. p. 7. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  14. "JOCELYN HOWARTH GOING TO HOLLYWOOD". The Daily Telegraph . Vol. 6, no. 24. Sydney. 14 March 1936. p. 8. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  15. "FLOOD WORK TAKES 11,686 FROM DOLE". Los Angeles Times. 19 April 1936. p. A1.
  16. Read, Kendall (22 January 1937). "Around and About in Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. p. A18.
  17. "Actress tells suicide motive". Los Angeles Times. 5 August 1936. p. 20.
  18. "Australian girl's". The Mail . Vol. 26, no. 1, 316. Adelaide. 14 August 1937. p. 1 (Talkie News). Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  19. "JOCELYN HOWARTH". The Sydney Morning Herald . No. 30, 836. 31 October 1936. p. 12. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  20. "Constance Worth Tells of Hollywood Private Life Hollywood Private Life". The Mail . Vol. 26, no. 1, 305. Adelaide. 29 May 1937. p. 2 (Talkie News). Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  21. "SCREEN NOTES". THE NEW YORK TIMES. 16 December 1936. p. 35.
  22. Schallert, Edwin (10 February 1937). "SCHILDKRAUT AND CARNOVSKY VIE FOR CAPT. DREYFUS ROLE IN "ZOLA": Deal Arranged for More "Hopalongs"". Los Angeles Times. p. 10.
  23. "CONSTANCE WORTH". The Age . No. 25902. Victoria, Australia. 25 April 1938. p. 14. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  24. "Boy, 12, Trainer of Elephants: Lad Amazes Playmates by Making Pachyderm Perform at Zoopark". Los Angeles Times. 27 May 1937. p. A1.
  25. "Three Screen Themes Prepared for Colbert". Los Angeles Times. 27 January 1939. p. 26.
  26. "MISS JOCELYN HOWARTH RETURNS". Queensland Times . Vol. LXXIX, no. 16, 404. 21 June 1939. p. 3 (DAILY.). Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  27. Joy Howarth arriving home on the SS Monterey, July, 1939. State Library of New South Wales image
  28. "SHIPPING NEWS LOS ANGELES HARBOR ACTIVITIES". Los Angeles Times. 29 October 1939. p. 12.
  29. "JOCELYN HOWARTH". The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate . New South Wales, Australia. 17 August 1940. p. 8. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  30. "Bette Davis Receives 840 Marriage Proposals This Year". The Washington Post. 11 August 1940. p. 51.
  31. Chapman, John (12 December 1940). "Looking at Hollywood". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 26.
  32. Schallert, Edwin (4 December 1940). "Ida Lupino Wins Lead in 'Valley' at 20th: Rogers Goes Dramatic Fred, Madeleine Team Film Chest Overflows Constance Worth Cast Cooper Deal Definite". Los Angeles Times. p. A12.
  33. "Lana Turner Heroine in 'Jekyll and Hyde'". Los Angeles Times. 5 February 1941. p. A10.
  34. "HOLLYWOOD NEWS REEL". The Sun . No. 1965. New South Wales, Australia. 24 November 1940. p. 19 (NEWS SECTION). Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  35. "IT HAPPENS IN HOLLYWOOD". The Sydney Morning Herald . No. 32, 199. 11 March 1941. p. 5 (Women's Supplement). Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  36. "SCREEN NEWS HERE AD IN HOLLYWOOD". The New York Times. 17 October 1941. p. 28.
  37. "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". The New York Times. 19 June 1942. p. 19.
  38. "Hedda Hopper's HOLLYWOOD". Los Angeles Times. 16 January 1942. p. 13.
  39. "Jocelyn Howarth's Success". The Daily News . Vol. LX, no. 21, 126 (HOME ed.). Western Australia. 18 December 1942. p. 8. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  40. 1 2 3 "THE GIRL WHO CAME BACK". The Australasian . Vol. CLIX, no. 5, 043. Victoria, Australia. 25 August 1945. p. 18. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  41. Schallert, Edwin (22 September 1942). "DRAMA: Douglas, Dunne Will Scintillate in 'Gaslight'". Los Angeles Times. p. 15.
  42. Schallert, Edwin (21 August 1942). "DRAMA: Gregory Ratoff Will Guide Porter Musical". Los Angeles Times. p. A15.
  43. "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". The New York Times. 6 December 1943. p. 21.
  44. "NEWS OF THE SCREEN". The New York Times. 17 October 1944. p. 19.
  45. "WESTERN RENEGADES". Picture Show. Vol. 58, no. 1514. London. 5 April 1952. p. 10.
  46. See for example; Australian Women's Weekly, 11 December 1937, p.26; 13 December 1942, p. 11; Sydney Morning Herald 8 October 1952, p. 5; Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 1961, p. 27
  47. "Constance Worth Granted Divorce". The News . Vol. XXIX, no. 4, 486. Adelaide. 8 December 1937. p. 4. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  48. "Brent Case in New Turn: More Testimony to Be Heard as Result of Surprise Move". Los Angeles Times. 21 August 1937. p. A8.
  50. "GEORGE BRENT'S. ANNULMENT PLEA DENIED BY COURT". Los Angeles Times. 14 September 1937. p. A1.
  51. "TOY HOWARTH'S Own Full STORY". The Australian Women's Weekly . Vol. 5, no. 19. 16 October 1937. p. 4. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  52. "WIFE SUES GEORGE BRENT: Constance Worth, Who Fought Annulment, Now Asks Divorce". The New York Times. 24 November 1937. p. 19.
  53. Denis O’Brien (1982) The Weekly. p. 69. Penguin Books Australia. ISBN   0-14-006566-0
  54. "CONSTANCE WORTH CITED IN DIVORCE". The Daily News . Vol. LXIV, no. 22, 078 (HOME ed.). Western Australia. 11 January 1946. p. 18. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  55. "Sydney's Talking About—". The Sydney Morning Herald . No. 34, 204. 7 August 1947. p. 12. Retrieved 29 September 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  56. Amber Sloan (1998) "Jocelyn Howarth death" BONZA National Cinema and Television Database, RMIT University Archived 10 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine