Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Susan Hayward's Wonderful LIFE

One of the many great things that have come out of the LIFE Magazine photo archive is the slew of previously unpublished images. I'm not certain if these Susan Hayward photographs taken on November 11, 1949 fall into the "unreleased" category, but they sure are revelatory. These truly wonderful pictures (the one above is my favorite) find thirty-two year old Susan at the beginning of her run as one of Hollywood's most popular and respected actresses. By the time of this photo shoot, she had already received her first Academy Award nomination for Smash Up: The Story of a Woman (1947) and would earn another in 1949, for My Foolish Heart. So when LIFE photographer Edward Clark went out to the Hayward homestead to shoot these photographs, he was capturing Hayward at her unadorned best: no makeup, freckles in plain view, and looking absolutely beautiful.

In the search for All Things Susan Hayward, I've looked through LIFE's Hayward collection numerous times and I think that new images are continually being added. There are more "Susan Variations" of the actress in her dude-ranch style western wear; white blouse, slacks, and belt buckle, plus "domestic" pics of her doting over her two young sons. It's all so darned charming that the gal from Brooklyn, New York could look so right in those clothes. The overall spirit of the photos is one of a happy young woman just a few years before becoming a major star and Hollywood icon.

More to come...


  1. What lovely photos! Thanks so much for sharing them. I've come to appreciate Hayward's work over the last couple years (most recently seeing her in REAP THE WILD WIND a few days ago). I haven't spent much time yet at the LIFE photo archive but I can see I need to make time for that. :)

    Best wishes,

  2. No, you are definitely not alone! I've been a Susan Hayward fan since first seeing her in "With a Song In My Heart," when I was an impressionable pre-teen. I'm no longer that age or impressionable, but I am still a committed Susan Hayward fan.

    I have seen some of these pictures but not all of them. Thanks for posting them.

  3. I just saw Susan in a little known low grade RKO B picture called They Won't Believe Her. She's really great in her small part. Usually, I go on IMDb to see if some of these films have message boards to discuss the film or actor and I went to her board and found many posts of people saying she was overrated or not gorgeous. They must be nits, because she is gorgeous, especially in these nice photos.

  4. Laura: I did a double take when I saw a still from "Reap the Wild Wind" because Susan looked so much like Vivien Leigh!

    Gloria: Do you know if these LIFE photos were ever published? I see someone is selling certain ones on ebay for $12.99.

    Didi: I think 1946-47 was when Susan's career took off. In addition to "They Won't Believe Me", she got top billing in a nifty little noir, "Deadline at Dawn", which is one of a pair of her movies that made me sit up and notice her; the other being 1957's "Top Secret Affair."

    I like your blog!

  5. Great pictures! And thanks to you, Dex, I've been enjoying the LIFE archives, too. :)

    She looks amazing in that last shot...as if she's right here listening.

    Such a natural beauty.

  6. Susan Hayward - I Want To Live - 'nuff said.

  7. 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of Susan's Oscar triumph; I hope to celebrate the occasion here somehow...

  8. ROFL! Her freaked out face there is hilarious!!
    She is so gorgeous, funny and adorable! Not to mention, a great dramatic actress.
    I love LIFE Photo Archive. It's really wonderful!


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