Sterling Hayden (March 26, 1916 – May 23, 1986) was an American actor, author, sailor, and WWII marine and commando. During his career as a Hollywood leading man Hayden specialized in westerns and film noir.
Sterling Hayden was born Sterling Relyea Walter on March 26, 1916 in Montclair, New Jersey, to George and Frances Walter. After his parents died, he was adopted at age nine by James Hayden and renamed Sterling Walter Hayden. He grew up in coastal towns of New England, and as a child lived in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Maine. Hayden dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen and took a job as mate on a schooner. He worked as a fisherman, seaman, and fireman on numerous vessels before earning his first command at age twenty-two, skippering the square rigger Florence C. Robinson. He sailed around the world a number of times, becoming a well-known and highly respected ship’s captain. Hayden had become a print model when at the urging of friends he met with producer Edward H. Griffith who signed him to a Paramount contract in 1940. After signing Paramount dubbed Hayden “The Most Beautiful Man in the Movies” and “The Beautiful Blond Viking God.” His first film with the studio was “Virginia” in 1941 which also starred Madeleine Carroll and Fred MacMurray.
After two film roles Hayden left Hollywood and joined the U.S. Marine Corps as a private, under the name John Hamilton. While at Parris Island, he was recommended for Officer Candidate School and after graduation was commissioned a second lieutenant. He was transferred to service as an undercover agent in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). His World War II service included running guns and supplies to Yugoslav partisans through the German blockade of the Adriatic, as well as parachuting into Croatia for guerrilla activities, and establishing air crew rescue teams in enemy-occupied territory. He received the Silver Star for gallantry in action in the Balkans and Mediterranean, a Bronze Arrowhead device for parachuting behind enemy lines, and a commendation from Yugoslavia’s Marshal Tito. Hayden left active duty on December 24, 1945.
After the war, Hayden returned to Hollywood and for most of his career as a leading man he specialized in westerns and film noir such as “El Paso” (1949), “Manhandled” (1949), “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950), “Denver & Rio Grande” (1952), “Flaming Feather” (1952), “Johnny Guitar” (1954), “Naked Alibi” (1954), and “The Killing” (1956). Late in his career Hayden became noted as a character actor for such roles as Gen. Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964); the Irish American policeman, Captain McCluskey, in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” (1972); and the novelist Roger Wade in “The Long Goodbye” (1973).
Hayden never lost his love of the sea and spent much of his time sailing the world between making movies. He often professed a distaste for film acting, claiming he did it mainly to pay for his ships and voyages. In 1969 Hayden bought a canal barge in the Netherlands, moving it to the heart of Paris and living on it part of the time. He also shared a home in Wilton, Connecticut with his family and had an apartment in Sausalito, California. After his appearance in “The Godfather”, Hayden appeared several times on NBC’s Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, where he talked about his career resurgence and how it had funded his travels and adventures around the world. Sterling Hayden also wrote two highly acclaimed books, an autobiography, Wanderer in 1962, and a novel Voyage in 1976.
Hayden was married five times. His first marriage was to actress Madeleine Carroll after the couple met and fell in love while filming “Virginia” in 1941. They were married on February 14, 1942 and divorced May 8, 1946. His next three marriages were to the same woman, Betty Ann de Noon. From 1947 to 1958 the couple were married and divorced three times. They had four children together. His last marriage was to Catherine Devine McConnell on March 9, 1960. Hayden and McConnell had two children together and remained married until his death in 1986.
Sterling Hayden died of prostate cancer in Sausalito, California in 1986, age 70.
Jennifer Jones (March 2, 1919 – December 17, 2009) was an American Oscar-winning actress during the Hollywood golden years. Jones was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for her role as Bernadette Soubirous in “The Song of Bernadette” (1943). She married three times, most notably to film producer David O. Selznick. Jennifer Jones starred in more than twenty films over a thirty-year career, going into semi-retirement following Selznick’s death in 1965. In later life, Jones withdrew from public life to live in quiet retirement with her son and his family in Malibu, California. She granted no interviews and rarely appeared in public. Jennifer Jones died of natural causes on Thursday, December 17, 2009, aged 90. She was cremated at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
Peggy Ann Garner was born February 3, 1932 in Canton, Ohio to English-born attorney William H. Garner, who served as a U.S. Army officer during World War II and his wife Virginia. With their marriage failing, the strong willed Virginia moved to Hollywood with her daughter Peggy Ann. There Garner made her first film appearance (uncredited) at the age of six in “Little Miss Thoroughbred” (1938). Over the next few years Garner appeared in several more films, including “Jane Eyre” (1943) and “The Keys of the Kingdom” (1944). In 1945 she showed she could also handle comedy by giving a fine performance in “Junior Miss”. Peggy Ann Garner reached the height of her success at the age of thirteen in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (1945), winning an Academy Juvenile Award largely for this performance. Bob Hope presented Garner her Oscar on March 7, 1946 at the 18th Academy Awards held at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
After years of separation and estrangement, her parents were divorced in 1947. Garner, who had a falling out with her mother, went to court to have her father appointed as her guardian. Unable to make a successful transition into adult film roles Garner moved back to New York to study with the Actor’s Studio and try her talents on Broadway. She appeared on stage with Dorothy Gish in “The Man” in 1950, “A Royal Family” in 1951, “Home is the Hero” in 1954, and was in the road company of “Bus Stop” in 1955. Garner received Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Award for Woman of the Year in 1956 given by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals society at Harvard University to performers deemed to have made a “lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment.”
During this time Garner also guest-starred steadily in television roles from the early 1950s through the 1960s. Among her many television roles included appearances in “The Ford Theatre Hour”, “Lux Video Theatre”, “Schlitz Playhouse”, “Robert Montgomery Presents”, “Zane Grey Theater”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, “Bonanza”, and “The Outer Limits”. Garner was also a regular panelist on the NBC television series, “Who Said That?”, along with H. V. Kaltenborn and Boris Karloff. In 1978, Garner surprised film audiences after a decade away from any feature film when she appeared as the pregnant aunt of the bride ‘Candice Ruteledge’ in the critically acclaimed Robert Altman film, “A Wedding” (1978). Her final screen performance was a small uncredited role in a 1980 made-for-television feature “This Year’s Blonde”.
Peggy Ann Garner was married three times. Her first marriage was to singer/game show host Richard Hayes. They were married on February 22, 1951 and divorced October 13, 1953. Her second marriage was to Albert Salmi on May 16, 1956. Garner and Salmi had one child together, a girl, Catherine Ann Salmi. The couple divorced March 13, 1963. Garner’s final marriage was to Kenyon Foster Brown on August 7, 1964. After a few years, that marriage also ended in divorce in 1968.
Peggy Ann Garner died from pancreatic cancer on October 16, 1984 at the age of 52.
Margaret Brooke Sullavan (May 16, 1909 – January 1, 1960) was an American stage and film actress who preferred working on the stage, making only sixteen movies during her Hollywood career.
Margaret Sullavan was born May 16, 1909 in Norfolk, Virginia to Cornelius Sullavan, a wealthy stockbroker, and his wife, Garland Brooke. Sullavan attended boarding school at Chatham Episcopal Institute (now Chatham Hall), where she was president of the student body and delivered the salutary oration in 1927. Sullavan moved to Boston and lived with her half-sister, Weedie, where she studied dance at the Boston Denishawn studio and (against her parents’ wishes) drama at the Copley Theatre. When her parents cut her allowance to a minimum, she defiantly paid her way as a clerk in the Harvard Cooperative Bookstore (The Coop), located in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Sullavan began her acting career onstage in early 1929 in a Harvard Dramatic Society musical production entitled Close Up. In the summer of 1929 she made her debut on the professional stage appearing opposite Henry Fonda in The Devil in the Cheese. Sullavan made her debut on Broadway in A Modern Virgin (a comedy by Elmer Harris), on May 20, 1931. After appearing in several Broadway productions Sullavan replaced another actor in Dinner at Eight in March of 1933. Movie director John M. Stahl happened to be watching the play and decided Sullavan would be perfect for a picture he was planning, “Only Yesterday” (1933). Sullavan had already turned down offers from Paramount and Columbia for five-year contracts, but when Stahl offered her a three-year, two-pictures-a-year contract with MGM at $1,200 a week, she accepted it and had a clause put in her contract that allowed her to return to the stage on occasion. Sullavan would continue to only sign short-term contracts because she did not want to be “owned” by any studio. After making “Only Yesterday” Sullavan would go on to make only sixteen movies during her Hollywood acting career, four of which were opposite James Stewart including the popular classic “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940) and “Three Comrades” (1938) for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. Sullavan’s other movies of note include the profitable and successful WWII drama “Cry Havoc” in 1943 and “Back Street” (1941) which was lauded as one of the best performances of Sullavan’s Hollywood career. Sullavan retired from the screen after making “Cry Havoc”, but returned in 1950 to make her last movie, “No Sad Songs for Me” (1950), in which she plays a woman who is dying of cancer. For the rest of her career Margaret Sullavan would only appear on the stage appearing in several shows on Broadway and in London, England.
When I really learn to act, I may take what I have learned back to Hollywood and display it on the screen”, Sullavan once said in an interview in October 1936, “but as long as the flesh-and-blood theatre will have me, it is to the flesh-and-blood theatre I’ll belong. I really am stage-struck. And if that be treason, Hollywood will have to make the most of it”
Margaret Sullavan was married four times. Her first marriage was to Henry Fonda on December 25, 1931 in Baltimore, while both were performing with the University Players in its 18-week winter season there. The marriage lasted only two months and the couple divorced.
In late 1934, Sullavan married William Wyler, the director of her next movie, “The Good Fairy” (1935). This second marriage lasted just over a year and they divorced in March 1936.
Sullavan’s third husband was agent and producer Leland Hayward. Hayward had been Sullavan’s agent since 1931 and their relationship had been deepening all through 1936. The couple had already become lovers, and Brooke, their “love child”, had been conceived that October. They both wanted the baby and married on November 15, 1936. Sullavan and Hayward would have three children together; Brooke in 1937, Bridget in 1939, and Bill in 1941. The marriage lasted eleven years and ended in 1947 when Sullavan discovered that Hayward was cheating on her with New York socialite and fashion icon Slim Keith.
Her fourth and final marriage was to English investment banker Kenneth Wagg. The couple stayed married until her death in 1960.
In her later life Margaret Sullavan experienced increasing hearing and health problems, depression, and mental frailty in the 1950s. She died of an overdose of barbiturates, which was ruled accidental, on January 1, 1960 at the age of 50. On January 1, 1960, Sullavan was found in bed, barely alive and unconscious, in a hotel room in New Haven, Connecticut. She was rushed to the hospital but died shortly after arrival. No note was found to indicate suicide, and no conclusion was reached as to whether her death was the result of a deliberate or an accidental overdose. The county coroner officially ruled Sullavan’s death an accident. After a private memorial service was held in Greenwich, Connecticut, Margaret Sullavan was interred at Saint Mary’s Whitechapel Episcopal Churchyard in Lancaster, Virginia.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Margaret Sullavan has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 1751 Vine Street. She was inducted, posthumously, into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.