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Susan Hayward (June 30, 1917 – March 14, 1975) was an American actress.

After working as a fashion model in New York, Hayward traveled to Hollywood in 1937 in the hope of playing the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939). Although she was not selected, she secured a film contract, and played several small supporting roles over the next few years. By the late 1940s the quality of her film roles had improved, and she achieved recognition for her dramatic abilities with the first of five Academy Award nominations for Best Actress for her performance as an alcoholic in Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman (1947). Her career continued successfully through the 1950s and she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of death row inmate Barbara Graham in I Want to Live! (1958).

By this time, Hayward was married and living in Georgiamarker and her film appearances became infrequent, although she continued acting in film and television until 1972. She died in 1975 following a long battle with brain cancer.

Early life

Hayward was born Edythe Marrenner in Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker to Walter Marrenner and Ellen Pearson. Her maternal grandparents were from Swedenmarker. She began her career as a photographer's model, going to Hollywoodmarker in 1937, aiming to secure the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Her screen name was chosen by her management because it was "as close to Rita Hayworth as we can get away with."


Although she did not win the role of Scarlett O'Hara, Hayward found employment playing bit parts until she was cast in Beau Geste (1939) opposite Gary Cooper. During the war years, she played leading lady to John Wayne twice, in Reap the Wild Wind (1942) and The Fighting Seabees (1944). She also starred in the film version of The Hairy Ape (1944). Later in 1955, she was cast by Howard Hughes to play Bortai in the historical epic The Conqueror, again opposite John Wayne.
in The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)
After the war, she established herself as one of Hollywood's most popular leading ladies in films such as Tap Roots (1948), My Foolish Heart (1949), David and Bathsheba (1951), and With a Song in My Heart (1952).

In 1947, she received the first of five Academy Award nominations for her role as an alcoholic nightclub singer in Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman.

During the 1950s she won acclaim for her dramatic performances as President Andrew Jackson's melancholic wife in The President's Lady (1953); the alcoholic actress Lillian Roth in I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), based on Roth's best-selling autobiography of the same name, for which she received a Cannes award; and the real-life Californiamarker murderer Barbara Graham in I Want to Live! (1958). Hayward's portrayal of Graham won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. She replaced Judy Garland as Helen Lawson in the 1967 film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls.

She received good reviews for her performance in a Las Vegasmarker production of Mame, but left the production because she felt unprepared for the demands the role made on her voice. She blamed herself for not wanting to spend the money on voice lessons that might have allowed her to keep the role. She was replaced by Oscar-winning actress and singer Celeste Holm.

She continued to act throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s, when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Her final film role was as Dr. Maggie Cole in the 1972 made-for-TV drama Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole. (The film was intended to be a pilot episode for a weekly television series, but due to Hayward's cancer diagnosis and failing health, the series was never produced.) Her last public appearance was at the 1974 Academy Awards telecast to present the Best Actress award, despite the fact she was very ill. With Charlton Heston supporting her, and having been given massive doses of dopamine, she was able to present the award. Hayward later stated, "that's the last time I do that."

Personal life

Hayward was married to actor Jess Barker for 10 years, and they had two children. The marriage was described in Hollywood gossip columns as turbulent. They divorced in 1954. During the contentious divorce proceedings, Hayward felt it necessary to stay in the United States and not join the Hong Kong location shooting for the film Soldier of Fortune. She shot her scenes with co-star Clark Gable indoors in Hollywood. A few brief, distant scenes of Gable and a Hayward double walking near landmarks in Hong Kong were combined with the indoor shots to create a remarkably effective illusion.

In 1957, Hayward married Eaton Chalkley, a Georgia rancher and businessman who had formerly worked as a federal agent. Though he was an unusual husband for a Hollywood movie star, the marriage was a happy one. She lived with him in Carrollton, Georgiamarker, becoming a popular figure in a state that in the 1950s was off the beaten path for most national celebrities. In December 1964, she and her husband were baptized Catholic at SS Peter and Paul's Roman Catholic Church on Larimar Avenue, in the East Libertymarker section of Pittsburghmarker, by one Father McGuire. She had met McGuire while in Chinamarker and promised him that if she ever converted, he would be the one to baptize her.

Chalkley died in 1966. Hayward went into mourning and did little acting for several years, and took up residence in Florida because she preferred not to live in her Georgia home without her late husband. Hayward died at age 57 on March 14, 1975, of pneumonia-related complications of brain cancer, having survived considerably longer than doctors had originally predicted. There is some speculation that she may have been contaminated with radioactive fallout from above-ground atomic bomb testing during the making of The Conqueror, with John Wayne. Several of the production members, as well as Wayne himself, later succumbed to cancer and cancer-related illnesses. She was survived by her two sons from the marriage with Barker.

Susan Hayward was cremated and buried at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church at 210 Old Centerpoint Rd., Carrollton, Georgia. There is a grave site marker for visitors.

Hayward has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker at 6251 Hollywood Boulevard.



Year Film Role Notes
1937 Hollywood Hotel Starlet at table uncredited
1938 The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse Patient scenes deleted
The Sisters Telephone operator uncredited
Girls on Probation Gloria Adams
Comet Over Broadway Amateur Actress uncredited
Campus Cinderella Co-Ed Short subject
1939 Beau Geste Isobel Rivers
Our Leading Citizen Judith Schofield
$1000 a Touchdown Betty McGlen
1941 Adam Had Four Sons Hester Stoddard
Sis Hopkins Carol Hopkins
Among the Living Millie Pickens
1942 Reap the Wild Wind Cousin Drusilla Alston
The Forest Rangers Tana 'Butch' Mason
I Married a Witch Estelle Masterson
Star Spangled Rhythm Herself - Genevieve in Priorities Skit
A Letter from Bataan Mrs. Mary Lewis
1943 Young and Willing Kate Benson
Hit Parade of 1943 Jill Wright
Jack London Charmian Kittredge
1944 The Fighting Seabees Constance Chesley
The Hairy Ape Mildred Douglas
And Now Tomorrow Janice Blair
Skirmish on the Home Front Molly Miller Short subject
1946 Deadline at Dawn June Goth
Canyon Passage Lucy Overmire
1947 Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman Angelica 'Angie'/'Angel' Evans Conway Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
They Won't Believe Me Verna Carlson
The Lost Moment Tina Bordereau
1948 Tap Roots Morna Dabney
The Saxon Charm Janet Busch
1949 Tulsa Cherokee Lansing
House of Strangers Irene Bennett
My Foolish Heart Eloise Winters Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
1951 Screen Snapshots: Hopalong in Hoppy Land Herself Short subject
I'd Climb the Highest Mountain Mary Elizabeth Eden Thompson
Rawhide Vinnie Holt
I Can Get It for You Wholesale Harriet Boyd
David and Bathsheba Bathsheba
1952 With a Song in My Heart Jane Froman Golden Globe

Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
The Snows of Kilimanjaro Helen
The Lusty Men Louise Merritt
1953 The President's Lady Rachel Donaldson
White Witch Doctor Ellen Burton
1954 Demetrius and the Gladiators Messalina
Garden of Evil Leah Fuller
1955 Untamed Katie O'Neill (Kildare) (Van Riebeck)
Soldier of Fortune Mrs. Jane Hoyt
I'll Cry Tomorrow Lillian Roth Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress

Nominated - BAFTA Award
1956 The Conqueror Bortai
1957 Top Secret Affair Dorothy 'Dottie' Peale
1958 I Want to Live! Barbara Graham Academy Award for Best Actress

Golden Globe

Nominated - BAFTA Award
1959 Thunder in the Sun Gabrielle Dauphin
Woman Obsessed Mary Sharron
1961 The Marriage-Go-Round Content Delville
Ada Ada Gillis
Back Street Rae Smith
1962 I Thank a Fool Christine Allison
1963 Stolen Hours Laura Pember
1964 Where Love Has Gone Valerie Hayden Miller
1967 The Honey Pot Mrs. Sheridan
Valley of the Dolls Helen Lawson
Think Twentieth Herself
1972 The Revengers Elizabeth Reilly
Heat of Anger Jessie Fitzgerald TV
Say Goodbye Maggie Cole Dr. Maggie Cole TV

See also


Further reading

  • McClelland, Doug. Susan Hayward, The Divine Bitch, New York: Pinnacle Books, 1973.

External links

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