Susan Hayward Biography

Film Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress, Classic Pin-Ups, Actress (1917–1975)
Film actress Susan Hayward earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her role in Smash-Up, and later won for her performance in I Want to Live.


Susan Hayward was born on June 30, 1917, in Brooklyn, New York. In 1937, she lost the part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind but signed with Warner Brothers. In 1947, she starred in Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman, and earned her first Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. She received four more nominations over the next 12 years. Hayward died on March 14, 1975 in Hollywood, California.


Early Life

Born Edythe Marrener on June 30, 1917, to a poverty strickenfamily in Brooklyn, New York,  Susan Hayward's childhood was difficult. She was hit by a car at the age of 7 and stranded at home in a body cast for months. The experience left Hayward with limp and painful memories of a debility she would never forget.

Big Break

Hayward's life took an unexpected turn when she was cast as the lead in a school play at age 12. The attention she received quickly turned her into a compulsive star. By 1935, a sexy swagger had replaced Hayward's childhood limp, and the gorgeous 17-year-old possessed an hourglass figure, a brassy Brooklyn accent and a burning desire for fortune and fame. She began working as a model to help support her family, and when she was featured in the Saturday Evening Post in 1937, all of America was introduced to the red-headed siren from Brooklyn. The same year, David O. Selznick offered Hayward an audition for the part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Though her lack of experience took her out of serious consideration, Hayward decided to trade in her return ticket and stay in Hollywood. After signing a contract with Warner Bros., she changed her name to Susan Hayward.

Hayward was driven to succeed as an actress and worked virtually non-stop. Offered the starring role in Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman in 1947, Hayward dazzled both audiences and critics, receiving her first Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. Hayward received four more nominations over the next 12 years, eventually winning for her work in the wildly successful I Want to Live in 1958. Sadly, the actress's happiness was eclipsed by the death of her husband Eaton Chalkey. And in 1972, just as she was emerging from her despair, she was diagnosed with cancer.

Death and Legacy

Refusing to surrender to the illness without a fight, Susan Hayward even managed to present the Academy for Best Actress in 1974. On March 14, 1975, at age 57, the irrepressible Brooklyn Bombshell died, leaving behind legions of fans all over the world.

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