Does this guy look like a Hollywood heartthrob to you?
No? Well, he was.
Susan Hayward’s affair with one Donald Barry de Acosta, our man pictured above, made headlines. She was actually ga-ga about the guy.
Hello everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers here with more on Susan Hayward, one of the biggest stars of the 1950’s who is little remembered today.
A sometime western, sometime cheapie Noir movie actor billed as Don “Red” Barry , the man above was roué of the first order. Inexplicably, at least to us, Barry was catnip to a bevy of Hollywood actresses including Susan.
Susan and Barry and their ups and downs. Too bad there was no internet around to record their hijinks.
You can imagine how much internet fun would have ensued from Susan’s surprise discovery of a sexy starlet in Barry’s bedroom on the morning of Nov. 4, 1955.
Brushing the flustered Barry aside, Susan started throwing punches. That was just the beginning, said the starlet. “(Hayward) came back at me with lighted cigarettes… she threw me down…ripped the buttons off my blouse and socked me…I finally got out of there.”
The starlet later filed charges but the matter, settled out of court, was hushed up by Susan’s studio at the time, 20th Century Fox.
Joe (more generous than Frank is on this) believes that of the nearly 60 movies that Hayward made, a few are worth remembering. Besides “I Married A Witch” they are Gregory Ratoff’s “Adam Had Four Sons” (1941) costarring Ingrid Bergman (Susan played the bad girl in this drama); and Cecil B. DeMille’s “Reap The Wild Wind” (1942), a heated Southern saga set in 19th century Florida.
Two notable films were “David and Bathsheba” and “With a Song in My Heart” where she portrayed the 40’s singer Jane Froman, who was crippled in an air crash during WW II. Froman’s voice was used in the film of course. It garnered Hayward her third Oscar nomination.
That leaves out two of Hayward’s signature put-upon-woman features: Daniel Mann’s “I’ll Cry Tomorrow” (MGM, 1956) with Susan portraying alcoholic singer Lillian Roth (this time Susan did her own singing) and Robert Wise’s “I Want To Live!” (United Artists, 1958) in which Hayward played a prostitute framed for murder. These two movies catapulted Hayward’s fame worldwide. She won an Oscar for the latter film and the “best performance” award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival in France for the former. Her Oscar came after 5 nominations over an 11 year period
Director Wise even compared Susan to Sarah Bernhardt and to Greta Garbo. Oh, my!
Hayward’s gradual slide into relative obscurity may in retrospect have had something to do with the fading studio system of her time, which gave her “daring” projects that by contemporary standards are more soap operatic than ground-breaking. In any case, her “best” pictures for the most part play ho-hum today.
Then there was Hayward’s bland surname, swiped from a Hollywood super-agent of the time, Leland Hayward. There also was her personality – pleasant but always distant and sometimes ultra-temperamental. A fair segment of Hollywood really did regard her as a bitch.
In a twisted way, it could be said that the most influential picture in her career was one that few will recall today.
In the summer of 1954, RKO’s “The Conqueror,” a period epic with John Wayne playing Genghis Khan, began filming under Dick Powell’s direction. As cited in Linet’s book, the location was “Saint George, Utah, a town fanned by radiation from eighty-seven above-ground atomic blasts in the adjacent Nevada desert during that period.
“One of the largest of those blasts had spawned a wind dubbed ‘Dirty Harry,’ which had swept across the desert in 1953, dropping radiation everywhere. In addition…tons of contaminated earth had been shipped back to Hollywood for further shooting, thereby prolonging the actors’ exposure.”
What is indisputable is that Wayne died of cancer. So did actor-director Powell. As did Susan’s costar Agnes Moorehead, and several others connected to the filming of “The Conqueror.”
On March 14, 1975, Hayward died of multiple cancerous brain tumors. She was less than three years shy of her 60th birthday.