Hayward, Susan

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Nationality: American. Born: Edythe Marrener in Brooklyn, New York, 30 June 1919. Education: Attended Girls' Commercial High School, Brooklyn. Family: Married the actor Jess Barker, 1944 (divorced 1954), twin sons Timothy and Gregory. Career: 1937—photographer's model in New York; option from David Selznick led to film debut, then a short Warner Brothers contract; 1939—contract with Paramount, and films by Paramount and other studios during the next few years; 1945—signed with independent producer Walter Wanger; 1949—contract with 20th Century-Fox; 1959—formed own production company, Carrollton, Inc.; 1969—stage role in Mame; 1970s—worked in TV. Awards: Best Actress, Cannes Film Festival, for I'll Cry Tomorrow, 1955; Best Actress, Academy Award and Best Actress, New York Film Critics, for I Want to Live, 1958. Died: Of a brain tumor, 14 March 1975.

Films as Actress:


Hollywood Hotel (Berkeley) (as starlet at table)


The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (Litvak); The Sisters (Litvak) (as telephone operator); Comet over Broadway (Berkeley) (as amateur actor); Campus Cinderella (Smith) (as coed); Girls on Probation (McGann) (as Gloria Adams)


Beau Geste (Wellman) (as Isobel Rivers); Our Leading Citizen (Santell) (as Judith Schofield); One Thousand Dollars a Touchdown (Hogan) (as Betty McGlen)


Among the Living (Heisler) (as Millie Pickens); Sis Hopkins (Santley) (as Carol Hopkins); Adam Had Four Sons (Ratoff) (as Hester Stoddard)


Reap the Wild Wind (C. B. DeMille) (as Drusilla Alston); The Forest Rangers (Marshall) (as Tana Mason); I Married a Witch (Clair) (as Estelle Masterson); A Letter from Bataan (Pine—short); Star Spangled Rhythm (Marshall) (as Genevieve)


Hit Parade of 1943 (Rogell) (as Jill Wright); Young and Willing (E. Griffith) (as Kate Benson); Jack London (Santell) (as Charmain Kittredge)


Skirmish on the Home Front (short); And Now Tomorrow (Pichel) (as Janice Blair); The Fighting Seabees (Ludwig) (as Constance Chesley); The Hairy Ape (Santell) (as Mildred Douglas)


Deadline at Dawn (Clurman) (as June Goff); Canyon Passage (Tourneur) (as Lucy Overmire)


Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (Heisler) (as Angie Evans); They Won't Believe Me (Pichel) (as Verna Carlson); The Lost Moment (Gabel) (as Tina Bordereau)


Tap Roots (Marshall) (as Morna Dabney); The Saxon Charm (Binyon) (as Janet Busch)


Tulsa (Heisler) (as Cherokee Lansing); House of Strangers (Mankiewicz) (as Irene Bennett); My Foolish Heart (Robson) (as Eloise Winters)


I'd Climb the Highest Mountain (King) (as Mary Elizabeth Eden Thompson); Rawhide (Hathaway) (as Vinnie Holt); David and Bathsheba (King) (as Bathsheba); I Can Get It for You Wholesale (Gordon) (as Harriet Boyd)


With a Song in My Heart (Lang) (as Jane Froman); The Snows of Kilimanjaro (King) (as Helen); The Lusty Men (Ray) (as Louise Merritt)


The President's Lady (Levin) (as Rachel Donalson Robards); White Witch Doctor (Hathaway) (as Ellen Burton)


Demetrius and the Gladiators (Daves) (as Messalina); Garden of Evil (Hathaway) (as Leah Fuller)


Untamed (King) (as Katie O'Neill); Soldier of Fortune (Dmytryk) (as Jane Hoyt); I'll Cry Tomorrow (Mann) (as Lillian Roth)


The Conqueror (Powell) (as Borta)


Top Secret Affair (Potter) (as Dottie Peale)


I Want to Live (Wise) (as Barbara Graham)


Woman Obsessed (Hathaway) (as Mary Sharron); Thunder in the Sun (Rouse) (as Gabrielle Dauphin)


The Marriage-Go-Round (W. Lang) (as Content Delville)


Ada (Mann) (title role); Back Street (Miller) (as Rae Smith)


I Thank a Fool (Stevens) (as Christine Allison)


Stolen Hours (Petrie) (as Laura Dember)


Where Love Has Gone (Dmytryk) (as Valerie Hayden)


The Honey Pot (Mankiewicz) (as Mrs. "Lone Star" Crockett Sheridan); Think Twentieth (Fleischer—short); Valley of the Dolls (Robson) (as Helen Lawson)


Heat of Anger (D. Taylor—for TV) (as Jessie Fitzgerald); The Revengers (Daniel Mann) (as Elizabeth Reilly); Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole (J. Taylor—for TV) (title role)


On HAYWARD: books—

Anderson, Christopher, A Star, Is a Star, Is a Star! The Lives and Loves of Susan Hayward, New York, 1980.

Parish, James, and Don Stanke, The Forties Gals, Westport, Connecticut, 1980.

Linet, Beverly, Susan Hayward: Portrait of a Survivor, New York, 1980.

Moreno, Eduardo, The Films of Susan Hayward, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1981.

La Guardia, Robert, and Gene Arceri, Red: The Tempestuous Life of Susan Hayward, New York, 1985.

On HAYWARD: articles—

McClelland, D., "Susan Hayward," in Films in Review (New York), May 1962.

McClelland, D., "The Brooklyn Bernhardt," in Films and Filming (London), March 1965.

Obituary, in Cinéma (Paris), May 1975.

Obituary, in Ecran (Paris), May 1975.

Stars (Mariembourg), September 1992.

Hayward, S., "Racial Discourse in UK Politics and Media," in Jump Cut (Berkeley), May 1997.

McClelland, D., "Cagney and Hayward: the Greatest Team That Never Was," in Classic Images (Muscatine), May 1997.

* * *

Susan Hayward's career was in certain respects quite curious. Few stars of her stature have appeared in so few interesting films or worked so seldom with distinguished directors (Canyon Passage, The Lusty Men . . . except from the viewpoint of Hayward's intrinsic interest there is really not much else to salvage). Considering the conditions within which female stars functioned in the classical period, the personality itself presents difficulties: abrasive, aggressive, intractable, it is not surprising that she took so long to become established, for years playing "other woman" roles (Forest Rangers, I Married a Witch) or being relegated to insipid or underdeveloped minor characters (Reap the Wild Wind); nor is it surprising that her major star roles tended to the solo tour de force rather than to the romantic love story (I'll Cry Tomorrow, I Want to Live).

Untamed is perhaps the ideal Hayward title: her personality at all points resists the "taming" represented by the traditional Hollywood happy ending, the subordination of female desire to male desire, the woman's surrender of her autonomy. Her two finest films make interesting and contrasted use of her intractability. The "happy ending" of Canyon Passage (one of the most underestimated of all Westerns) teams her with a "wanderer hero" (Dana Andrews) who equally refuses the confines of domesticity. Nicholas Ray's use of her in The Lusty Men is, on the contrary, fascinating in its perversity: her aggressiveness is allowed its full expression (including rage and physical violence) but exclusively in the interests of home and settling.

It is again not surprising that the "taming" of Hayward took, in her most celebrated roles, extreme and drastic forms. The punishments that characterize her career begin early: already in The Forest Rangers the "happy ending" (the union of Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard at Hayward's expense) requires that she be brutally assaulted with a fire hose. Most striking is the recurrent burden of alchoholism imposed on the Hayward characters (Smash Up, My Foolish Heart, I'll Cry Tomorrow); but she is also crippled in With a Song in My Heart and (most extremely) executed in the electric chair in I Want to Live.

—Robin Wood

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