- (1873-1944)A native of Deacon's Mills, Indiana, Richard Bennett began his long acting career in 1891 at Chicago's Standard Theatre in The Limited Mail, before appearing in the same play at New York's Niblo's Gardens that year. After a decade of stock and touring shows, Bennett returned to New York and London in The Lion and the Mouse (1905) and The Hypocrites (1906). He costarred with Maude Adams in the first American staging of J. M. Barrie's What Every Woman Knows (1908), followed by Stop, Thief (1912), Damaged Goods (1913), and The Unknown Purple (1918), then played Rob Mayo in Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer PRiZE-winning drama Beyond the Horizon (1920). During the 1920s, Bennett, whose intellectual, graceful performances were praised by critics, made notable appearances in The Hero (1921), He Who Gets Slapped (1922), The Dancers (1923), and asTony in Sidney Howard's Pulitzer PRiZE-winning drama They Knew What They Wanted (1924). Following his 1928 performance in Jarnegan, he toured as Cyrano de Bergerac and acted occasionally in motion pictures. Bennett, who fathered film actresses Joan and Constance Bennett, generated controversy through his public criticism of audiences and drama critics, demonstrating his frustration with what he regarded as too slow a progression away from romantic melodramatic plays toward the modernist works of O'Neill, Howard, and others. Bennett made his last stage appearance as Judge Gaunt in Maxwell Anderson's Winterset* (1935), a role he repeated on screen.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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