It began only a short time ago. Three or four years ago, as a matter of fact. I was watching a movie that starred one of my favorite actors -- Clark Gable. As I began to watch this film, I found my attention not on Mr. Gable as much as his beautiful redheaded, deep-voiced costar. With each movement on screen, I found myself more and more focused on the woman with the fiery red hair -- and a fiery personality to match!
When the film was over (which the film was, of course, "Soldier of Fortune"), I looked up the woman on the Internet. I hadn't even paid any attention to the opening credits, so I didn't even know her name. But I soon found out -- Susan Hayward. I found that she wasn't just a starlet who had one big film to her name -- instead, I found a movie queen. I knew then that I had stumbled across one of Hollywood's rare and still relatively hidden gems. I determined that I would watch each film of hers that I could.
Now, several years and all but five of her fairly major staring films being viewed, I can honestly say that she is my unparalleled favorite actress. She was a stunning, strong, feminine and fiery lady.
I wish that I could have met her. But she died 18 years before I was born. I can see you doing the math in your head... Yes, I was born in 1993.
I've been reading this site since before Christmas, but I finally decided to tell y'all how I "met" or got "introduced" to one of the brightest stars Hollywood ever had.
Thank you for keeping this site up and for letting me bend you ear for a while...
As I understand it, Ms. Hayward had a farm in Alabama, not more than an hour from where I live. I also understand that one of her sons, Greg, went to Auburn University. (I'm actually a big Alabama fan, but that is still really neat.)
P. P. S.
"Ada" is my favorite Susan Hayward movie and one of the reasons is because she's from Alabama. ;)
What a wonderfully enthusiastic letter to a group of people, who agree with you wholeheartedly about the very special, unique Susan Hayward! Why she didn't become more of an 'icon', when her acting was so far above the 'Divas' of her time, is a question we all wonder about, too!
While your age 20 is just a 'memory' for me--LOL!--I came upon Susan (we're all pretty informal, here) only a few years ago! (I was out climbing trees and riding my 'trusty steed' (my Schwin bike!), while Susan was already contemplating plunging from a NYC skyscraper! ("I'll Cry Tomorrow"). So, we're all ages here! :-)
About 2 years ago, when I chanced upon her biography at a second-hand bookshop, ("Susan Hayward: Portrait of a Survivor" by Beverly Linet), and read of her extraordinary life, I became a 'fan' on the spot!! And, as I watched her films, I realized that the qualities she showed in all her roles--were also true of much of her life...as you said "stunning, strong, feminine and fiery"!
I was of the age group that marched with Gloria Steinem down Fifth Ave in New York, along with thousands of other women to demand 'equal rights'! And I would say that Susan was probably among the first of women who thought that way---though she did not express it as such. She just LIVED it!!
Being a newcomer, I still have most of her films to watch (I found this board last autumn)--and several of the members here are--Ginger, our wonderful Moderator and Trish, who has treasured Susan's talents most of her life, and if she can't answer a question on this exceptional woman--then the QUESTION doesn't exist! LOLOL!! Ginger, Trish and others have far more extensive knowledge than I do---so please feel free to ask them and others any questions.
(I absolutely hate to first welcome you---and then have to clear up some misinformation that you unfortunately were given. But I feel you'd rather know the facts, so:
1. Susan Hayward was born in 1917 and brought up, not in Alabama, but in Brooklyn, New York!! (And, yes, she needed a lot of voice training to get rid of her accent, which I know well, as I was born in the Bronx!) She went out to Hollywood after working as a model in advertising for awhile.
2. After her second marriage to Eaton Chalkley, a Georgia business man, that's when and where the 'farm' in Georgia materialized! They shared ten happy years down there, until her husband died, but he was alive and well to see her at last win the coveted Oscar for her unforgettable (and almost too hard to watch) role in "I Want to Live" (which I'm sure you've seen?) After Eaton's death, Susan found she could no longer bear all the memories of their home on the farm, and she moved to Florida, to indulge her love of fishing--and try to get on with a life without her husband.
3. One of her twin sons, Greg, became a veterinarian, and I think he studied at Auburn, but I don't know if he and his family still live in Alabama. Greg's twin, Tim, is in California and is such an enthusiastic trout fisherman that he shares his website "Planet Trout" with any interested 'fellow-fishers'! He also puts up lovely photos of his family and his website is well-worth a look. http://planettrout.wordpress.com/about/ Tim also, occasionally pops onto the Board here!
Although none of the few bios written about her are all factually perfect.......and can only partway capture the complex woman and consummate actress she was, they all tell of a woman whose craft of acting was--next to family--everything to her. So, you may want to start with Beverly Linet's book, which I mentioned above.
Savannah, we are so very happy that you found us here and that you share our love for such an unusually talented woman. We do hope that you will come by often and offer comments when you can. There are sometimes slow periods..........but then, suddenly, it picks up! So, it's always well-worth it to at least 'lurk' and see what's going on---or contribute any questions or comments you might have!
Thanks, and, again--on my part and the entire Board's--'Welcome to the Susan Hayward Message Board'! (There are some terrific links about Susan.......and Ginger knows--and writes some of them, herself! And Trish has compiled some absolutely beautiful Youtube photos of Susan, accompanied by lovely music.)
Hope to hear from you again very soon!! (If you notice another 'Kane' on the Board--that's my twin Alice--another great Susan admirer!!)
Savannah-Welcome to the board. I'm guessing that you're one of the youngest
fans to post. I first "met" Susan in 1956 when I was 13 and so that probably makes me one of the oldest;70 as of June 1st. I always liked the fact that I was born on the first day of June and Susan on the last......allbeit 26 yrs
apart. If Turner Classic Movies ever decides to feature Susan as their Star
of the Month(way overdue by the way),perhaps others of your generation will
be introduced to her magic as well. Hope we hear from you often.
To Lynn-I think you might have misread Savannah's post;she didn't say that
Susan was raised in Alabama but that she had a farm there(which she did
in addition to the one in Georgia), and Greg apparently does or did live
in Alabama-very near the Alabama-Georgia stateline and not far from
Thanks! You are so right. I read Savannah's post too quickly and got my info. wrong! (This is what happens when I wake up at 4:30 am---and get so enthusiastic about answering a message, that by 5:30 am, I have already made a major error!) Duh!! Thanks again for setting me straight!
I knew that Greg had lived in Alabama but not if he and his family are stll there. Some day I'll rent a car and just drive around that part of the country, which I'm told is very beautiful. Susan certainly loved it!
Well, Elaine, thanks again for your sharp eyes. No more 5 am message posting for me, again!
But, now I get to welcome Savannah TWICE!!!
Cheers to all, Lynn
Thank you both for your warm welcomes. :) It is interesting that you mentioned your birthday, Elaine, because mine too is close to Ms. Hayward's. She was born June 30 and I was born July 1. :) Our birthdays are only one day apart!!!! :) Lynn, thank you for the book suggestion. I've purchased and read (and reread) several of the biographies about her. The real thing that bothers me is that the information from book to book just doesn't match up sometimes. :( I guess there will always be things that we don't know about her. Thank you both very much. :)
I am so happy to see a newcomer to this wonderful website on our Susan. Young, middle aged, over the hill...who cares..what's in a number anyway. The main thing is keeping Susan Hayward's memory alive. Susan has been my favorite since 1952. My all time favorite is "I'll Cry Tomorrow." Susan is one very special lady to me.
Hope to hear more from you.
A big welcome to you and hope you will visit this site for Susan frequently.
It is particularly gratifying that you have found Susan at such a young age -we mostly were youngsters when she entered our hearts. It was 1950 for me when I saw her in My Foolish Heart and that was certainly the start of seeing every film she made (over and over again) and collecting every picture, article and photograph that came my way. Susan is so much a part of my life that one of my grandsons asked if she was a family member as there are numerous pictures of her in my home!!
My favourite film of Susan's is "I'll Cry Tomorrow" - the same as Ray's. I have been fortunate enough to visit Carrollton (I live in the U.K. but visit the U.S. often) and leave yellow roses on her grave; took pictures of the home where she lived with Eaton just across from the Church; also been inside the house where she passed away in Beverly Hills, seen the house where she, Jess and the boys lived before the divorce and been inside her High School in Brooklyn, Prospects Heights High, along with her granddaughter Ally. I spent the day with Ally in New York City a few years ago - one of my most treasured memories.
Susan was a very special lady as all her fans will testify as she means so much to us and I am thrilled that someone your age can see her beauty and charisma. There will never be anyone like her on screen and that really is all we have to go on as we didn't know her. A lot has been written about Susan but not everything is true and her life seemed to be a mass of contradictions. She was certainly a LEGEND.
Welcome Savannah! It's great to "see a new face" on the Board. (I am Lynn's twin. )I'm so glad that you discovered Susan. I'm always embarrassed to admit that while I knew her name for many years, I only truly got to know her as an actress of special talent a few years ago. I am still not 'caught up to speed' on many of her films, but those I've seen have made me a "forever fan." Her acting skills and her ability to connect with her audience set her apart from so many of her contemporaries.
I hope to see you join in our conversations, here. Don't be a stranger!
The farm in AL was located near Heflin, West of Bowdon, GA. Both Greg and I spent some times there mostly painting the interior of the house and hunting. Greg graduated from Auburn (War Eagle!!!) and, although I went there too, I graduated from the Uni. Of Miami in Coral Gables, FL after I got out of the service...
That side of my family still resides in the South...mine is in CA and now, NYC...
Thank you to each and every one of you for the welcome!!! :) I'm glad to have found such a devoted group of fans. (: Mr. Barker, I live about an hour and a half from Heflin.
Thank you again to all (Roll Tide, y'all).
Welcome to the message board! I really love it when young people discover Susan Hayward. That's what it's all about..to remember, to acknowledge, to pay tribute, to show appreciation, and to introduce Susan Hayward to the younger generation and to inspire them as she has inspired us and made our lives better.
Thank you for your post, and it looks like she reached out and grabbed your heart just like she did the rest of us!
There are a few nice facebook pages on Susan. I just created one last week. If you search "Susan Hayward, Classic Film Star," you will find it, and then "like"....You'll discover more and more new things every day about the life and career of Susan Hayward.
Thank you again for sharing.....Ginger
Savannah, thank you for the Susan Hayward, Classic Film Star "like" on FB.
I just stumbled across your site, but have some interesting memories to share. I grew up in Carrollton, GA. It was not uncommon to see Ms. Hayward driving around town in a pick up truck with her hair tied up in a scarf or at a local grocery store. Mr. Chalkley owned the Cadillac car dealership in Carrollton. They were honored with a parade and awarded the key to the city. One of the most interesting things I remember is that the Chalkley's built a new Catholic Church building closer to their farm. The old church was a white frame building which was donated and then moved to what was then West Georgia College, now the University of West Georgia. It was dedicated as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Chapel. Robert Kennedy came to Carrollton to break ground for the chapel. My Mom got me out of school that day to go to the ceremony. I got to meet Bobby Kennedy as a result. The chapel is still on campus. Carrollton is rich with Southern history and scenic landscape. If you visit Atlanta, it is worth a day trip. It is located about 45 miles west of Atlanta. Thanks for a forum to share the memories.
Hello and Welcome, Karen!
I am so sorry I missed your post---and missed welcoming you to the Board.
I thoroughly enjoyed your story and am delighted to read that Carrollton has all that history--and charm. I'd never heard of it--but we New Yorkers score low on geography! I do love reading maps, though---and somehow just never came across Carrollton! My loss!! As soon as I finish this letter, I shall go straight to my book shelves and find Carollton on my book of maps!!
I have been on this Board only since last autumn, and am still amazed that I found it! A place where all of Susan Haywood's many admirerers can come together and share all sorts of stories!
It is so strange to imagine you living in the same town---and having the opportunity to see Susan as 'just a good citizen'! I'm so glad she was happy there. Did you ever have the chance to meet her individually? It seems she was a very good neighbor.
And how exciting to meet Robert Kennedy! Years ago, I did some simple volunteer work during his brother's campaign! Bobby's great passion for mountains and climbing always fascinated me, as I collect mostly Himalayan and Alaskan expedition books, and I believe it was the well-known climbers, the Whitaker twins, who befriended him and took him up a mountain, they named after him!
Do you still live anywhere near Carrollton? We have one member on the Board (and no doubt more), who have made the trip to see where Susan and her husband were buried and to walk around the town.
I was so surprised to locate Ginger's (our Moderater) Board on Susan, as I never suspected that others who admired her from so many years ago would come together and honor her like this. Susan was surely underrated in the movie world, when she truly was one of the finest, most natural, most involved and most gifted in all the roles she played.
We hope you will stay in touch with us, and join in whenever you wish. There are some real 'Susan' appreciators on this Board, who have collected massive amounts of information on--and photos of--her, and I know they would be happy to answer your questions.
Also, there are many links connected with this Board, which Ginger and others can refer you to. (Ginger wrote a truly beautiful piano solo called "Susan's Song"--that, alone, is worth linking up with her other Board.) And there is SO much to read about this complex, fascinating actress. The more I have read about her, the more I have tended to contemplate this enigmatic actress, who has captured me with all her multi-facited acting talent, so evident in some of the most difficult roles she has ever played!
So nice to meet you, Karen. Please do 'stay aboard'!
PS Just for your information, one of Susan's twin's, Tim Barker, follows this Board sometimes, so if you see his name---that is who he is--Susan's son. He also has a most intriguing website called "Planet Trout", emphasizing both his beautiful family--and 'rabid' ( ) love of trout!
I do not live in Carrollton now, but hope to move back soon. My parents and family are there so I go back as often as possible to visit.
Lucky you!! I spent about half an hour yesterday looking through maps that showed Carrollton and vicinity. It looks so lovely and scenic, and I'll bet that Susan H. would be shocked to see how much larger it must be now than when she lived there! But I'm sure it's just as beautiful.
I suppose you all knew that her film "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain" was filmed in that area. Do you know exactly where they shot it?
(I'm a tireless map reader!! It brings a place alive to me!)
You are so right about the changes in Carrollton! Atlanta is going to spread to the Alabama line I think.
As for filming I don't remember anything, but I was very young. Carrollton is rolling hills but no mountains. They may have used north Georgia as a location. We southerners considered those as mountains, then I moved to WV and saw REAL mountains.
In reading the posts about the twins, I remembered that one of them was friends with Gardner New who was the older brother of my sister's friend. I believe Gardner has passed away.
It's funny how memories come in snapshots.