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Those Fabulous Redheads


Guest mongo

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While lovely Maureen O'Hara is celebrating her 82nd birthday I was reminded of another dynamic redhead of the silver screen. It's not Lucille Ball or Rita Hayworth but the fabulous Susan Hayward. Her name hasn't been mentioned on the boards that much and it would be nice to pay tribute to the five time Oscar nominee (she won for "I Want to Live") and keep the memory of this feisty redhead alive.

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Guest JEANECOOPER

She must be smiling from Movie Star Heaven at your kind rememberence Mongo. You are so right that she is rarely discussed, and yet once you see her on the screen - captivating with a capital C is usually the word that best describes her. From her days as a hat model with Hattie Carnegie in NYC to her films like "I'll Cry Tomorrow" she was a fireball. My personal favorites were "Tulsa", "With a Song in my Heart", "I Can Get it for You Wholesale" and "The President's Lady"... even "Ada" is great fun on a rainy afternoon.

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Guest finnie12, moira

Having known Ms. Hayward's work from such movies as "My Foolish Heart" and "Beau Geste", I was really impressed by "I Want to Live" when I saw it for the first time recently on TCM. Her mixture of defiance and fear as she prepared for the gas chamber in the last scenes was searing. Only Davis and Crawford could probably have matched her indelible performance for power and complexity of emotion. An uncommon actress who does deserve more attention. Thanks for reminding me of her, Mongo and Jeane.

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So many "women in prison" movies are forgetable, but I WANT TO LIVE is seared into my memory. I could barely breathe as she made that walk to the gas chamber. It was an unforgetable movie, and kudos to Ms. Hayward.

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Guest K, Sandy

I saw I WANT TO LIVE on tv when I was in high school, and I've never forgotten it. At that time, I had never heard of Susan Hayward, and I wanted to see more of her films. Nothing else has ever quite measured up to that performance. It was probably the best role of her career. On a campier note, however, I LOVE her as Helen Lawson in VALLEY OF THE DOLLS! That catfight between her and Patty Duke-meow!

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Hayward also gave a powerful performance as Lillian Roth in "I'll Cry Tomorrow" in which I believe she did her own singing. After five Oscar nominations all around her was relieved when she finally won the award for "I Want To Live" since she would become a basket case. A touching event occurredd when Hayward was dying of a brain tumor and a visitor showed up with flowers for her. It turned out to be none other than Katharine Hepburn.

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Guest Vados, Mike

Susan Hayward is just so darn likable! Some actors I just LIKE on the basis of pure charisma. She is one of them. She's sassy! There is some (b&w) movie where she plays an alcoholic...what is that movie??? She is real good in that "I want to Live" too. The way I feel about her is "What a Woman!"

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There are two films where Hayward played an alcoholic. One is "I'll Cry Tomorrow" (1955) and the other is "Smash Up, The Story of a Woman" (1947).

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Guest olmsted, l

Funny to see this discussion about Susan Hayward today--my mom and I were just talking about her yesterday! I'm always trying to get her to watch and appreciate my favorite gals but there's no one else for her but Susan Hayward! The woman brought such class and sophistication to ANY role, the ultimate being in I WANT TO LIVE when she insists on wearing her dress to go to the chair. She held her head up high and proud as if she were accepting an award instead of going to her death. Another thing we always liked about Hayward was her no nonsense way of talking. She was so direct and honest. Her voice was low and soothing. She had a way of making you trust her and believe in her. I especially enjoyed her heart-warming performance in The President's Lady. She brought some humanity to a standard biopic film about a politician.

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Hayward also insisted on wearing a sleeping mask to the gas chamber which I would imagine that the real Barbara Graham also requested so as not to see the spectators. Hayward's later films such as the glossy remakes of "Back Street" and "Stolen Hours" (Dark Victory) were moderate hits since the public never tired of her.

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Guest son, jery

Did anyone catch the "Behind the Movie" documentary about the making of "Valley of the Dolls?" Patty Duke really used her claws to slash poor Susie Hayward. Patty played the alcoholic Neeley O'Hara. Susie played the has been singer (reportedly based on Ethel Merman/Judy Garland.) Ironically Judy had been cast but her costume tests showed her really out of it and so she was dropped. Patty says she and Susie hated each other from the beginning. In their big cat fight scene, there wasn't any acting. They were really screeching and dishing it out. The scene was shown of their confrontation. Wooo, it was fantastic! Susan was among those who died from radioactive poisoning after filming "The Conquerers" on that A-Bomb testing site in the desert back in the 50s. Others who died from the same thing were John Wayne, Agnes Moorehead, etc.

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In due respect to the fabulous Susan Hayward I would like to mention two other redheads that were hot during their time in Hollywood, Greer Garson who's films broke records at Radio City Music Hall (more than any other actress) and especially Ann Sheridan who was my kind of gal. She could do it all (drama, comedy, musical) and shed tears at the drop of a hat. If only Warner Brothers had more faith and gave her better material as Davis and Crawford received. I heard she fought tooth and nail for her part in "Kings Row" which she proved was a great showcase for her. Most of her co-stars adored Annie since she was a "regular" gal and a darn good actress too.

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Guest finnie12, moira

Say Alix, your "women in prison" comment reminded me of one of the all time scary movies starring another lovely redhead in a terrific performance: "Caged"(1950) with Eleanor Parker. Scary??--heck, yes! I saw it on the tube when I was around 7. Hope Emerson was the Bogey-Woman in my closet for a couple of years after that. Where were my parents, letting me and my siblings watch that flick???? Maybe the thought was: A little psychological trauma then, but a lifetime on the right side of the law...one thing's for sure--they'll never take me alive! (-:

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Guest lettuce, hedda

Hey, Moira, in "Caged," remember Lee Patrick, the mature, blonde woman who gave lipstick and make-up cases to her favorite girls? And Eleanor Powell finally took one? Without showing anything graphic, this movie really delivered a lot of power of suggestion. You could visually read between the lines. I loved Agnes Moorehead's last words that closed the movie: "She'll be back."

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Guest finnie12, moira

Hedda, I agree. Despite the restrictions on movie content in 1950, "Caged" imaginatively delineated the power structure and lesbian realities beneath the surface. An intelligent script by Virginia Kellogg and Bernard C. Schoenfeld and John Cromwell's direction, along with Eleanor Parker and the harrowing Hope Emerson's excellent acting make this much more powerful than more recent, explicit and violent movies, (which just seem silly, by comparison). I still don't think it's kiddie fare but a darned good example of film noir showing human beings under pressure! I guess that this is subjective, but do you think that in some cases, censorship may have produced better story-telling? Can you think of any other instances?

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Guest jeannecooper

Moira - I had a similar experience. I too, remember watching this on TV, when a babysitter was around. Probably in the 7-9 year age range. It must have put me on the straight and narrow road - 'cause as a young teen when a friend wanted to lift some lip gloss - I turned and ran out the store. If she wanted to have shapeless hair and clothes in her future - that was her fate - not mine!

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Guest finnie12, moira

Welcome to the straight arrow club, jeane! All I knew after seeing this, was that I sure didn't want to my head shaved or have some weird lady who looked like a bulldog telling me what to do!

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Guest K, Sandy

jeane, I must confess-when I was 11 I lifted a lip-gloss from the drugstore! I could never bring myself to use it, though. It was tainted with the taste of crime! I wish my mother had made me watch CAGED...

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  • 2 months later...
Guest Darlene

Susan Hayward was certainly my favorite redhead. While the beauty of other stars faded, she remained beautiful from her first picture to her last. Doris Day is another lady who seems to be eternally beautiful.

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