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I Know Susan Hayward’s Secret!

Scared and skinny in ten-dollar coats Susan Hayward and I waited anxiously outside a Radio City casting agent’s office. When the secretary beckoned us, Susan straightened her shoulders, raised her head and, holding it majestically high, floated through the door into the agent’s office. Nobody could have guessed that she was scared.

Modeling through Walter Thornton’s agency, we were both broke, both trying to get started, back in 1938. Susan was Edythe Marrener of Brooklyn and I was from Astoria—two long subway rides from the midtown Manhattan modeling center.

We had to break into modeling the hard way then. Armed with a folio of our pictures and a scrapbook, we’d call on photographers, artists and fashion directors—and there were about 500 of them on our list. We cut down on subways to save money, which meant a lot of walking. Models got five dollars per hour for photographic posing and ten dollars for a fashion show, with a fitting thrown in free.

Right from the start, Susan acted success, and I don’t think she ever let herself think anything else. She was sure she was a great actress and sure she would become a top model fast, so that she could earn enough money to help her look her best when she called on casting agents.

Susan’s self-confidence was so great, and so apparent, that it made her outstanding and kept her in the minds of photographers and artists. “Who was that little redhead that swept in here yesterday like she owned the studio?” I heard illustrator Ralph Crawley once say. “Let’s book her for that cover job.”

In a business where self-confidence is not rare and where the clamor for attention is great, Susan, fresh from high school, made herself outstanding. She was not conceited, though, in the unpleasant sense. Susan was merely quietly and calmly confident.

Susan became artist Jon Whitcomb’s most beguiling cover girl when he began drawing her wistful, saucy loveliness, and that was the start of her climb as a model. Soon she was posing for cigarettes, toothpaste and soaps and appearing in mail-order catalogues.

Luckily for Susan, Walter Thornton had somehow managed to sell his own story to The Saturday Evening Post and when the photographers appeared at the agency to get pictures of all of us to illustrate the story, that glorious mane of red hair seemed a natural for the color shots and Susan was featured. The rest is history. Shortly after these pictures appeared, she was en route to Hollywood.

When we waited in reception rooms together, clutching our scrapbooks and hoping, Susan was scared, but she was wise enough to concentrate on the positive—the strong belief she had in herself and the secret that has carried her to stardom.




1 Comment
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    10 Nisan 2023

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