A few years ago I heard Limerick historian Sharon Slater tell the story of Lady Heath, an extraordinary aviation pioneer. Not only was her story incredible, it was also locally pertinent. For Lady Heath was a Limerick-woman.
Discovering little tit-bits of local history is always a joy, particularly when it allows you to discover fascinating new characters from Limerick’s past.
I was therefore delighted to discover today that a new TG4 documentary, to be broadcast next week, will feature the fascinating but tragic story of Limerick actress Constance Smith. I must confess I had not heard of this woman until today but her story sounds deliciously tabloid as well being a tragic tale of wasted talent.
The documentary, ‘Constance Smith – Tragoid Hollywood‘, is set to air on TG4 on Wednesday 30th May, and will feature interviews with both well-known Limerick people and Hollywood stars.
Hailed as ‘the next Grace Kelly’, Constance Smith was an Limerick-born actress who had it all. She was the muse of legendary producer Darryl F. Zanuck, the wife of a celebrated actor and director, a co-star in Hollywood movies. Jack Palance even called her the ‘Dublin Dietrich’.
Constance Smith could have been one of the biggest stars in the world. The only thing that stood in her way was herself.
The new documentary, charting the story of Constance Smith was supported by TG4 and the BAI and was produced and directed by Brian Reddin of Dearg Films.
The documentary features interviews with well-known Limerick people and historians including Sharon Slater, Declan McLoughlin and Patricia Haselbeck-Flynn.
Constance Smith – Tragoid Hollywood tells the story of her tragic life story and also featuring interviews with her family, fans, biographers and contemporaries. Shot on location in Limerick, Dublin, London, Rome and Los Angeles, the film also sees interviews with actors Patrick Bergin, Fionnula Flanagan and Audrey Dalton.
Constance Smith was a determined and independent woman in an industry that welcomed neither. She refused to be pigeon holed and fought for better roles in better movies. However, she paid the ultimate price. Hollywood cut her loose, which started a downward spiral into drugs and drink and ended in imprisonment and an impoverished death.
The story of Limerick born Constance Smith is a journey from the heady heights of movie stardom to obscurity. Her life played out like a Hollywood tragedy.
‘Constance Smith – Tragoid Hollywood’ will air on TG4 on Wednesday, 30th May
Here’s a promo for the documentary: