Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Susan Hayward...

Since the first time I saw Susie in "The Hairy Ape" with William Bendix many years ago, I was totally taken by this sultry-voiced, red-haired beauty. Her b-day is coming up in a few days and so for the next week or so I'll be posting a tribute to her.

A great early photo of Susie taken in the early to mid 1940's. She was born Edythe Marrener of Brooklyn on June 30th, 1918. Young Edythe was run over by a car while running in the streets one day and her parents were told she had a fractured hip and would probably never walk again. This injury and the lack of treatment she received while healing caused her to have a bit of a 'slink" to her walk for the rest of her life, but she did indeed walk again!

In the mid 1930's Edythe took a drama course and tried making the rounds to the theatrical agencies with no luck, but her pretty face, shapely figure and blazing red hair got her plenty of modeling jobs at the Walter Thornton agency where she appeared in ads for everything from underwear to tooth brushes.

In mid 1937 she appeared in the Saturday Envening Post in an article about New York models. The article, titled "The Merchant of Venus", featured 8 color pictures of Edythe and caught the eye of George Cukor, who was then immersed in his search for an actress to play Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind". She received a wire from Selznick studios offering her a test and a two-way ticket to California. Little Edythe was on her way to Hollywood!

Obviously, she did not get the role but she also did not use her return ticket, instead cashing it to in to buy some groceries! She hired an agent and he showed her test to Warner bros. and Edythe got a 6 month starlet contract. It was there at Warner's that she became "Susan Hayward" and started playing bit roles and finally a small speaking role in the b-quickie "Girls on Probation" starring Ronald Reagan. This is the only film I am aware of that Susie's Brooklyn accent is fully evident.

Warner's did not renew her contract so she tested for a western over at Republic where the director promptly said "She STINKS!" and was also told to get rid of her accent! She ended up at Paramount, sans accent, with a $200 a week contract instead. Her first film there was William Wellman's awesome "Beau Geste", with Gary Cooper, Ray Milland and a scene-stealing Brian Donlevy. During this time Walter Thornton agency was attempting to sue her for $100,000 for breach of contract. This was just one of the many battles Susie would be involved in throughout her stormy life!

to be continued........

1 comment:

Mr. Door Tree said...

"I got a woman on my mind and she ain't good"..."You're just like all the rest only fancier"...what a woman!