Monday, March 18, 2019

Seven Things to Know About Constance Towers

1. Constance Towers' first lead role was opposite John Wayne and William Holden in John Ford's 1959 Civil War Western The Horse Soldiers. She was 26 years old. Towers followed it up with another John Ford film: Sergeant Rutledge (1960).

2. Her most famous movies, though, are two Samuel Fuller productions released in the mid-1960s. In Shock Corridor (1963), she plays the stripper girlfriend of a journalist who fakes insanity in order to gain access to three murder witnesses in an asylum. In my opinion, her best performance was in Fuller's next film, The Naked Kiss (1964), in which she plays a prostitute trying to lead a normal life working as a nurse in a children's hospital ward. The New York Times called it "a wild little movie"--and I can't argue.

3. Constance Towers was also a busy guest star on popular television series such as The Outer Limits, The Rockford Files, and Hawaii Five-O. She was a favorite on Perry Mason, in which she appeared five times.

4. She was also a stage performer and starred as Anna opposite Yul Brynner in the 1977-78 revival of The King and I. Towers also played the titular role in Anya, a 1965 musical with Lillian Gish. The play was a fictionalized account of Anastasia.
Yul Brynner and Constance Towers.

With husband John Gavin.
5. She has a son and a daughter from her 1959-1966 marriage to businessman Eugene McGrath (who was actress Terry Moore's ex-husband). In 1974, Towers married actor John Gavin (Psycho, Spartacus); she was 41 and he was 46. They remained together until his death in 2018. During their marriage, Gavin was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico by President Reagan. He served in that capacity from 1981-86.

6. Constance Towers has appeared in four daytime dramas on American television: Capitol, Sunset Beach, General Hospital and The Young and the Restless (one episode only). On General Hospital, she took over the role of the villainous Helena Cassadine, which was originated by Elizabeth Taylor in 1981. Towers played the part on a recurring basis from 1997 to 2017. Supposedly, Helena Cassadine is dead now--but, hey, she's been dead before and it turned out she was alive!

7. Constance Towers devotes much of her time to charitable causes these days. However, she has not retired from acting. In 2016, she appeared in Hulu's time travel miniseries 11.23.63 and in 2018, she starred in the Hallmark Channel's family drama The Storyteller.

9 comments:

  1. Constance Towers is a wonder! I first heard her as Mrs. Anna on an album of The King and I borrowed from the library. Glorious!

    My daughter and I are still hoping for a return from the dead of Helena Cassadine on General Hospital. She is such fun as that evil woman, relishing every moment of torment.

    Speaking of the daughter, a couple of years ago I introduced her to Sam Fuller's movies and she found each one a jaw dropper, but the jaw couldn't get any lower when we watched The Naked Kiss. One of the great movie openings.

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    1. Her opening scene in THE NAKED KISS is indeed a jaw-dropper! But her later scene with the telephone is a stunner, too.

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  2. synchronicity - I was just thinking of Constance in Sergeant Rutledge the other day....and I'm not sure why I was, but now I know -

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  3. She had a great cameo on FRASIER as his old piano teacher with whom he had an affair as a teen.

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    1. I had forgotten that! We've got that season on DVD and need to watch that episode again.

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    2. She's terrific in that Frasier episode – we happened to see it recently. I was secretly hoping they would write her into another episode or two.

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  4. I remember her work on Perry Mason very well. “The Naked Kiss” is quite memorable for many reasons and I was just thinking that a cell phone wouldn’t have had the same impact as that old desk phone.

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  5. I was trying to place Constance Towers and all I thought of was Perry Mason - no wonder, she appeared on the show five times! You've really intrigued me now into looking at The Naked Kiss...a "wild little movie"...hmmmm. She's quite beautiful and how interesting that she married John Gavin.

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