Susan Hayward – Brooklyn Bombshell

Day 311 of Colourisation Project – March 14

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Hollywood wouldn’t be Hollywood without its stories of love, lust, infidelities, revenge, murder, jealousy, mental illness, alcoholism, etc.  I’m not talking about the fabricated stuff of movies, the art imitating life imaginations of script-writers.  I’m talking about the real life drama that grips the town on an all too regular basis; the legends that Hollywood has unfurled in the public sphere, like that of Frances Farmer, Ramon Navarro, Loretta Young, George Reeves, Lupe Vélez, and Gene Tierney to name a few.  Click on the links for their stories that I’ve written about in earlier blogs.

There is one Hollywood legend that continues to fascinate adoring fans and that is that the U.S. government was responsible for the death of talented actress, Susan Hayward on this day, March 14, 1975. Hayward died from multiple cancerous and inoperable brain tumors, a few months shy of her 58th birthday.

Susan Hayward

Publicity Still ~ Susan Hayward ~ Colourised by Loredana Crupi

There is some speculation that Hayward may have developed cancer from toxic radioactive fallout from U.S. nuclear testing facility at Utah, not far from where she was shooting The Conqueror in 1956 with John Wayne. Not only were they exposed to the radioactive fallout during the making of the film, but producer Howard Hawks had several tons of red soil from the location shipped back to Hollywood to create a more realistic effect in the studio scenes.

No bombs were tested during the actual filming of The Conqueror, but 11 explosions occurred the year before depositing long-lasting radiation over the area.

For some people, a surprisingly high incidence of cancer among cast and crew including, John Wayne, Agnes Moorehead, Pedro Armendáriz and the director Dick Powell, is evidence enough that they all may have been victims of nuclear fallout.

According to PEOPLE magazine in 1980, out of a cast and crew of 220 members, an astonishing 91 had contracted cancer. Forty-six of them died of the disease.

Dr. Robert C. Pendleton, director of radiological health at the University of Utah in 1980 said: “With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic. The connection between fallout radiation and cancer in individual cases has been practically impossible to prove conclusively. But in a group this size you’d expect only 30-some cancers to develop. With 91, I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up even in a court of law.”

Whatever the cause of death and whoever is to blame, one thing is certain; Susan Hayward was taken too young.

Ironically dubbed the ‘Brooklyn Bombshell’, she was one of Hollywood’s most successful film stars from the late 1940s through to the early 1960s. She started out as Edythe Marrenner, a fashion model from New York and made her mark on Hollywood playing strong, determined women who often came to tragic ends. She won Oscar nominations for her portrayals of three real-life women: singer Jane Froman in With a Song in My Heart (1952); singer Lillian Roth in I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955); and convicted murderer Barbara Graham in film noir, I Want to Live! (1958).

Many film buffs consider her portrayal of the death row inmate in I Want to Live! for which she won the Academy Best Actress Award, to be one of the finest performances of all time.

Hayward has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6251 Hollywood Boulevard.

I have included here today, a 9 minute condensed version of I Want to Live for your enjoyment.

___________________________________________________

My life is fair game for anybody. I spent an unhappy, penniless childhood in Brooklyn. I had to slug my way up in a town called Hollywood where people love to trample you to death. I don’t relax because I don’t know how. I don’t want to know how. Life is too short to relax.”    ~    Susan Hayward

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