With perfect posture, it was a delicious cross between a strut and a bounce — absolute authority and absolute sex


Have there been any irate emails, etc., that Susan Hayward wasn’t recognized, as it was the 100th anniversary of her birth also on June 30? Just asking. There are some fiercely loyal Hayward fans out there!”

That was reader Mark Kirby. And, as a matter of fact, within the congratulatory mail of our remembrance of Lena, there were a few Hayward fans, who mentioned — in a nice, non-brutal way — that the flame-haired Oscar winner was also celebrating her 100th.

We’re big fans of Hayward here. She was gorgeous, unique and — to us — underrated.

So, to appease Miss Hayward’s fans, we are going to repeat a bit of a column we did on the star a couple years ago when Turner Classic Movies honored her as its Star of the Month.

Here goes. This is for you, Susie and all those who have not forgotten.

“I NEED a drink. I need a drink now!”

That was Susan Hayward, in one of the defining roles of her career, as singer Lillian Roth in “I’ll Cry Tomorrow.”

Hayward was Oscar nominated for that performance in 1955 — her fourth nomination — but she wouldn’t win the prize until 1958, for an equally intense portrayal of another real-life woman, convicted murderer Barbara Graham, in “I Want to Live!”

I received a lovely note from Susan Hayward’s godson, Jim Warren. Jim conveyed some sweet, personal memories of the Brooklyn-born Hayward, who was known to be extremely private, but warm and earthy once she let her guard down.

In Hollywood, she was respected as one of the industry’s great professionals. (She never balked at an assignment from her studios — she did her job and always worked toward something bigger and better. When she finally won the Academy Award, producer Walter Wanger remarked, “Thank goodness. We can all relax now. Susie has her Oscar!”)

But somehow, Susan — who died at age 57, battling brain cancer — never quite gained the appropriate mythic stature of other stars. This has always seemed odd to me. But I don’t think she was fully appreciated even in her lifetime.

Maybe Susan Hayward was just … too much; too much fire, too much strength, too raw. Aside from her beauty, which was considerable, she also had spectacular, unique mannerisms that should have made her immortal. The way she spoke — achingly emotional to super snarly in seconds — the way those nostrils flared from that stubborn retroussé nose, the toss of her tawny, fiery mane of hair.

But most of all, that incredible walk. With perfect posture, it was a delicious cross between a strut and a bounce — absolute authority and absolute sex. Even from a great distance, you knew Susan Hayward was arriving. She could sing and dance. There was little she couldn’t do, except perhaps light comedy. Hayward was too emphatic for that. But she gave it a try, and was compelling in her efforts.

AMONG our favorite Hayward efforts: “Adam Had Four Sons” (being bad to saintly Ingrid Bergman), “Reap the Wild Wind,” “I Married a Witch,” “The Hairy Ape,” “Deadline at Dawn,” “Smash Up: The Story of a Woman” (Her first alkie role), “My Foolish Heart” (a great tearjerker), “The Lost Moment,” “House of Strangers” (a sizzling face-off with Edward G. Robinson), “I Can Get It For You Wholesale” (a strong woman constrained by idiot men), “The President’s Lady,” “Demetrius and the Gladiators” (as the wickedest woman in Rome), “The Conqueror” (just for her belly-baring sword dance), the aforementioned “I Want to Live” and “I’ll Cry Tomorrow” and “Where Love Has Gone” in which she played a fictionalized version of Lana Turner, embroiled in the death of a sleazy lover. This one is also notable for pitting Miss Hayward against Bette Davis. They did not get along in the film, or in real life, but they are electric in the movie.


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