The following will be of interest to everyone who loves Susan Hayward and I am so happy to be able to bring these memories to your notice.
I have been in contact with Donna for some time and she has very kindly donated her photographs taken with Susan (and signed by her) to me along with signed Academy Award programmes and a signed original script of I'LL CRY TOMORROW.
Donna has such wonderful memories of the twice she met with Susan so I will detail her letter below.
"It all started when my Dad saw "WTH A SONG IN MY HEART" and told me I just had to see it and how great Susan was and the wonderful music. He knew I would just love the "Get Happy" number. I was in Junior High and 14 years old.
I began work on a scrapbook immediastely, collecting mostly pictures from movie mags. The scrapbook grew and grew (with numerous metal extensions) until it was approx. 8 to 10 inches thick.
A dear friend of mine, Sylvia was moving to Hollywood to look for work and knew how crazy I was about Susan. So, when she was offered two tickets to the Oscars by MGM film editor Adrienne Fazan (who won an Oscar for her work in GIGI), she called to find out if I could come down to Hollywood for the Oscars. So off I went (I live in San Francisco) and Sylvia and I were seated on the aisle about halfway back on the main floor. I didn't spot Susan until the Awards ended and she was leaving the auditorium and that's when I asked her to autograph the script of I'LL CRY TOMORROW. I hated to bother her right ater she had been cheated out of an Oscar but I just wanted to be next to her, gaze at her and hear her voice. She was so kind to take the time for her teenage fan. Sylvia was working at MGM at the time and had managed to smuggle out the final script.
During this trip, I had also brought the scrapbook and Sylvia wanted a friend of hers who worked at The Hollywood Reporter to see it so we dropped by the Reporter office with the scrapbook. All of a sudden her friend said "this is the one who should see this" and called out to Stan Musgrove who had just stopped by the Reporter Offices. He called Stan over and said "You have got to see this Susan Hayward scrapbook - I have never seen anything like it".
Stan looked through it and said he wanted Susan to see it. He took my address and phone number and said he's be in touch. At the time it frankly never occurred to me that I would actually meet her.
Meanwhile I returned home on a cloud, satisfied for the moment to have just been able to stand next to her at the Oscars and actually speak to her. I continued to add pages to the scrapbook.
Time passed and one afternoon on my return home from school, my mother said I had received a call from Stan Musgrove and to call back. I spoke directly with him and he said he had told Susan about the scrapbook and she indicated she would love to see it. So he asked if I could come down and bring the scrapbook and we could take it to Warner Bros. Studios on the set where she was making TOP SECRET AFFAIR. We made the appointment for one week later. However, a few days later, I received a letter from Susan apologizing for the necessity of posponing by a week as she had an eye infection.
Mom and I flew to L.A. and checked in at the Beverly Hills Hotel and the next morning, Stan came by to pick me up. We drove to the Warners Lot and down the narrow street to the TOP SECRET AFFAIR sound stage. Susan was filming a scene at the time so Stan and I went into her dressing room to wait. She came in a few minutes later, gave Stan a hug and a very warm greeting to me saying she was "looking forward to seeing this scrapbook Stan has talked about". I can still hear that wonderful voice of hers. The negligee she was wearing for the scene was a pastel pink. I was 16 and so shy that I was embarrassed to stare at her 100% of the time but I did stare at her as was turning the pages. She filled the entire inside front cover - (can't remember the wording exactly but something to the effect of her Best Wishes to her No. 1 fan and signed it Susan Hayward.
After we had this initial visit, she was called back to the set for a shoot and she asked me if I would like to go with her and watch the scene - with Paul Stewart. WAS SHE KIDDING! Off we went, back to the set and one of the techs told me where to stand so I could watch the scene. When she finished the scene, we went back to her dressing room and the studio photographer arrived to take the publicity pictures of us with the scrapbook. After that we said our goodbyes and I thanked her so much for taking the time to see me and the scrapbook.
The Palo Alto Times printed the story and the Manager at the Varsity Theater created a big display - "Local Girl Meets Susan Hayward". Right after my High School Graduation, I sent the scrapbook to a movie museum in Hollywood.
When Susan was nominated for "I WANT TO LIVE", my friend Sylvia came through with two tickets for the Oscars. Again I made the trip to Hollywood and this time, Susan WON. I did not see her immediately as she was back stage being interviewed. It was my friend who suggested the strategy for seeing Susan again.
I went to the florist shop at the Beverly Hills Hotel and bought an arrangement of two dozen pink roses for delivery to Miss Hayward who was staying there and I included a note of congratulations, identifying myself as the girl who visited with her at Warners and asked if she had a minute or two spare to sign the two publicity pictures taken then. I wrote I was in the lobby at the front desk. Lo and behold, about fifteen minutes after the flowers and note were delivered, the desk clerk got a call and directed me to Susan's bungalow. When I knocked on the door, Mr. Chalkley answered and asked me in. He told me Susan was doing last minute finishing touches getting ready to go out but that she would be right out. He was very gracious and engaged me in some chitchat. Soon Susan appeared in a stunning black cocktail dress with all that beautiful red hair. Dazzling! I told her how happy I was for her Oscar win. She gestured towards the mantle over the fireplace and THERE IT WAS! She asked me if I would like to hold it. AGAIN, WAS SHE KIDDING? Of course I would and she handed it to me (it is quite heavy) saying she would have to deliver it back for engraving. I said I didn't want to further intrude on their evening but asked her to autograph the two pictures. While she did, she briefly told her husband about the scrapbook.
With pictures and memories in hand, I profusely thanked them both for their kindness and went on my way. I still can't believe she was so sweet to see me again, especially the night after her Oscar win. The memory is still strong after 60 years and my heart still aches when I think of losing her far too soon. However, to us she will always be young, beautiful and so, so talented. She was wrong - she will always be remembered".
Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did when Donna told me all about
meeting Susan. Oh to have been so lucky!
Great story from Donna Colton, Trish.
As opposed to many fans who get close to stars for a brief hello or autograph, having experiences to remember like watching the scene being filmed with Paul Stewart- and especially the visit to the bungalow the night of the Oscar win!!- give her a privilege not accorded to most fans.
Thanks for replying Kerry. I just wish all the members on the Facebook page would read this Board. All the comments over there go by so fast!
It is super swift over there I agree.
Despite the wealth of material accumulating on Ginger's Susan Facebook page- my problem is that I am not a Facebook aficionardo - at all. I simply dislike it. No specific reason as such, I merely avoid it usually.
However I do make an exception on the abovementioned page and visit maybe twice a week to catch up with the volley of great pics being submitted and Susan related posts.
But I don't post or linger long over there.
Just to say how lovely the reminiscence was and how fortunate Donna was. There will be fewer and fewer of us who even will recall her "second-hand" but hopefully there will continue to be viewers of her movies who will realize what a superb actress and what an individual she was'
In a larger sense I seem to be more and more aware of the dumbing down and homogenizing of actors/actresses in movies. I'll watch even a good movie and never be sure of which "big name" young actress is the lead because they all look pretty much alike and act pretty much alike (unless they are blonde or brunette but then that change too!). I mean, back in the "good old days" even the lesser actresses had their individual personalities. Adele Jergens and Janis Carter might play the same roles in different movies but you certainly knew which was which. Today, I just give up.
Thanks so much for posting this. I really enjoyed reading Donna's account of her meetings with Susan and am green with envy.
Thanks so much for replying - I am green with envy too!!
Bill - I agree with you regarding the "new" Hollywood ladies - except for Jennifer Lawrence - I think she will go far but of course, no-one can hold a candle to "our Susan" who entered our hearts so many years ago and will stay there forever.
I always say of old Hollywood, "They had voices then." Now they all sound alike.
Bill, so true about the sameness of the actors. I agree with your post in every respect.
Trish, I posted the photo that you sent. Thank you for sending it to accompany the letter from Donna Colton.
I'm so sorry for my delay in commenting on this post. As you know, I haven't been able to get to the Board much recently.
But reading this post and Donna's story is so intriguing, I'm so glad I've seeen it! It is the exact fantasy that so many young people with crushes on actors and actresses have so often during that period of life----that something amazing like Donna's experience happens in their OWN lives!
I just loved reading the story and learning of Susan's kindness to Donna.
Thanks a million.