Granddaughter of Rose Wood and the stage actor Lewis Morrison, birth name: Morris W. Morris (1845 - 1906).
Daughters: Adrienne Ralston Fox (became Diana Markey) born 20 February 1928; Melinda Markey born 27 February 1934; Stephanie Wanger, born 26 June 1943; Shelley Wanger, born 4 July 1948.
Filming on She Wanted a Millionaire (1932) was interrupted for 6 months when Joan broke her leg in a fall from a horse.
Was pregnant with daughter Melinda Markey while filming Little Women (1933).
Played Amy March in Little Women (1933) with Katharine Hepburn. She played Elizabeth Taylor's mother in Father of the Bride (1950). Taylor played Amy March in the remake: Little Women (1949).
Finalist for the part of Scarlett O'Hara in the classic Gone with the Wind (1939). Vivien Leigh got the role at the last minute. However, the film's producer, David O. Selznick offered to cast her oldest daughter, Diana in the role of Bonnie Blue Butler, Rhett and Scarlett's daughter as a sort of consolation prize. Miss Bennett refused the offer. In reality, Diana, who was 11 years old at the time of the film's premiere, was way too old for the role - the part called for a toddler.
Her first grandchild, Amanda Anderson, was born in March, 1949 to daughter Diana.
In Italy, most of her films were dubbed by Lidia Simoneschi, including Father of the Bride (1950) and its sequel Father's Little Dividend (1951). She was occasionally dubbed by Lia Orlandini, Renata Marini and Tina Lattanzi.
Husband Walter Wanger shot Bennett's agent Jennings Lang in the groin in 1951 because he believed he was trying to break up his home. Bennett denied the allegations.
She was one of only three cast members who appeared on "Dark Shadows" (1966) from the beginning to the end. She appeared on the first episode, June 27, 1966, as well as its last, April 2, 1971.
Her grandfather, Morris W. Morris (an actor known as Lewis Morrison on stage), was of English and well-off Spanish ancestry. Joan Bennett spoke of this, in detail, in her 1970 autobiography "The Bennett Playbill". Morris had also served as a lieutenant during the Civil War.
Appeared in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show (1971), although only in archive footage. The film that the characters in the movie go to see is Father of the Bride (1950), and a clip is show featuring Joan.
Was offered the role of Beth McCarthy in Cocoon (1985). Director Ron Howard wanted to reunite co-star Don Ameche with one of his former leading ladies and he thought of Joan. Unfortunately, she was in frail health at the time and supposedly turned down the role, a decision she later regretted when "Cocoon" became one of the biggest box office hits of 1985 and spawned a sequel. The part was played by Gwen Verdon. Miss Bennett did not, in fact, turn down the role. Rather, she was talked out of taking it by her fourth husband, David Wilde. Wilde insisted that the film too closely resembled the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). He also felt that it was beneath Miss Bennett's dignity to be working under "Opie Taylor" or "Richie Cunningham".
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 82-84. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.