Our story last week about Rita Hayworth unleashed a wave of nostalgia for old Hollywood.
Our readers looked back fondly to an era of elegance, style and classical beauty.
Our story featured Waratah West’s Fred Saunders and his recollection of seeing Rita Hayworth at a garden party in London in 1947 or 1948.
Warrick Strang, of Krambach in the Greater Taree district, contacted Topics to share his own Hollywood story.
“The article about Rita Hayworth can easily be topped,” Warrick said.
“I am distantly related to the late Jocelyn Howarth (film name Constance Worth).”
As it turns out, there is a link between Jocelyn and Rita Hayworth. They performed together in the movie, Angels Over Broadway. We’re putting that down to six degrees of separation.
Warrick said his mother was “a great movie buff”.
“She loves old movies from the ‘30s to ‘50s,” he said.
“She told me years ago about Jocelyn and the fact that the family were distantly related to a ‘movie star’.”
But it was only in recent years that Warrick began researching Jocelyn’s story.
“Jocelyn was my maternal grandfather's cousin,” he said.
“Apparently she had to change her name when making her movie debut in the US. She was actually named Enid Joyce Howarth. She was born in Sydney in 1911.”
In one of her first US movies, there was an actor with a similar surname. So she went by the stage name, Constance Worth. Warrick said this was baffling, as there was already a British stage actress with that name.
“People in the US sometimes called her Connie, which I believe she hated. She was reported to prefer to be called Joy by those to whom she was closest,” he said.
She starred in Ken Hall's famous 1933 Australian film, The Squatter's Daughter.
In 1936, she sailed to the United States, destination Hollywood.
She was signed by RKO Pictures, one of the big five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age.
She was briefly married in 1937 to film star George Brent. Warrick said it was a messy divorce.
“She refused to go quietly!,” he said, adding this probably had a lot to do with the stagnation of her US film career.
“Through persistence in the early ‘40s she starred in the first two Boston Blackie movies, but she also secured roles in numerous B movies.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reported in August 1947 that she was in a bad car accident, three days before starting work on a new movie.
The story said she was “in hospital for several months” and required plastic surgery for scars on her face.
She died at age 52 in 1963, apparently tragically and in relative obscurity.
Warrick says her life story would make a great Australian movie.
Topics agrees. She was a trailblazer for the likes of Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts and Margot Robbie.
During her heyday, Jocelyn was a media personality in Australia.
“She appeared in some of the first issues of the Australian Women's Weekly. There is a famous photo of her standing near a bi-plane flown by famous Australian aviatrix, Nancy Bird Walton.
“In a bizarre twist, Nancy in her autobiography referred to her association with Jocelyn, saying she used to take the young actress on joy flights.”
It was published more than 30 years after the death of Jocelyn, but Nancy seemed unaware of her passing.
She wrote in the book that Jocelyn had a few years earlier taken a ride in a balloon. It seems she was confused with the other Constance Worth.
As for our story on Rita Hayworth and our comparison between old and new Hollywood, readers had this to say.
Kevin Jessu: “No comparison....naturally beautiful back in the day”.
Peter Phillips: “True beauty knows no timeline”.
Lola Woodward: “Absolutely no comparison in looks or lifestyles”.
Jason Garland: “No plastic here!”.