Susan Hayward /Biography/Page 2
Eventually, Ben Medford persuaded Max Arnow, casting director of Warner Brothers, to sign his client to a six-month contract at $150.00 per week. Arnow then changed Edythe's name to Susan Hayward. He borrowed the last name from
Hollywood agent, Leland Hayward. Medford got Cukor to convince his friend,
Gertrude Fogler, the famous elocution coach at MGM to coach Susan.
SUSAN'S EARLY YEARS IN FILMS
Susan's first assignment was as an extra in "The Sisters". This Warner Brothers film starred Errol Flynn, Bette Davis, and Anita Louise. She then played a few other forgotten bit parts before she received 10th billing in "Girls On Probation".
The star of that low budget film was none other than Ronald Reagan. His leading lady was Jane Bryan. In 1938, when the first 6-month option period ended, the studio dropped her contract.
In the early part of 1939, a screen test, directed by Henry Hathaway, was
arranged for Susan at Paramount Studios. At the time, Artie Jacobson, was head talent scout at the studio. When he saw the test, he signed Susan for seven years at $350.00 per week.
When director William Wellman saw the screen test, he immediately cast
Susan in an important picture, "Beau Geste." This film also starred Ray Milland and Robert Preston. Frances Farmer was to have played the part, but instead she opted to perform in a Broadway play.
That same year, Paramount put her in a lesser film, "Our Leading Citizen", starring Bob Burns. In this film Hayward played her first lead part. She also had an important part in $1,000 A Touchdown" with Joe E. Brown.
On November 13, 1939, Susan joined "Louella and Her Flying Stars". This was a vaudeville type touring act which included many of the young, up and coming players from major studios. Among the "stars" were Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan, Joy Hodges, June Preisser, and Arlene Whelan. The tour ended on December 27.
Ben Medford convinced his friend, director Gregory Ratoff to use Susan as his
second female lead in his production "Adam Had Four Sons" . Susan
became "hot property" after the release of "Adam". (She had been loaned out to Columbia for this film). Paramount loaned her out to Republic Pictures for "Sis Hopkins."
In 1941, the studio cast her in "Among The Living." This was Susan's last "B" movie. This film was directed by Stuart Heisler, who later would direct Susan to her
first Oscar nomination, "Smash-Up, The Story Of A Woman."
Susan's performance in "Among the Living" came to the attention of Cecil B.
DeMille. He wanted Susan for a role in his upcoming film, "Reap The Wild Wind".
The movie also starred John Wayne, Paulette Goddard, Ray Milland, and Robert Preston.
Paramount then put Susan in "The Forest Rangers". She was third-billed.
The film also starred Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard. She also was in "I Married a Witch" with Veronica Lake and Fredric March. She, however, did not have much footage in this film.
She was in "Star-Spangled Rhythm" for all of two minutes. This was an all
star Paramount production which included Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd.
Susan's next assignment was "Young and Willing." William Holden was in this film also. She would, many years later, make her final film with him, entitled "The Revengers."
Susan was loaned to Republic Pictures in 1943 for "Hit Parade of 1943" which was later known as "Change of Heart." John Carroll and Eve Arden also starred in this film. (Susan was engaged, at one point to John Carroll, but the romance fizzled out.)