Welcome to Vintage Paparazzi.

The Iron Man and The Redhead—Jeff Chandler & Susan Hayward

Jeff Chandler is a nice guy—frank, self-effacing, straight-to-the-point.

Ask him about his relationship to Susan Hayward, and he cocks that handsome, greying head of his to one side and gives you a slow, sheepish grin.

“This is a pretty ticklish spot we’re in,” the iron man says. “I’m separated from my wife. Susan is separated from her husband. Sure, we’re allowed to go out, but technically we’re both still married. What do you want me to say? That she’s a very fine actress?”

You know that. What you’d like to know is whether or not he and Susan have any plans. How. friendly are they?

An actor whose conduct has always been exemplary, Jeff says honestly, “I’m not qualified to talk about anyone’s future except my own. Right now, my wife Marge is shopping around for a lawyer, so I can say definitely that in the future I’ll be divorced. After that, who knows?”

According to the newspapers, Jeff and Susie Hayward are a big romance. Supposedly, they were high school sweethearts and now that they are both in Hollywood and both getting divorces, they are taking up where they left off in Brooklyn twenty years ago.

Jeff smiled.

He’d heard and read all that before, he said tolerantly.

Sure was funny how some people could louse you up. He had taken Susie out. He’d taken her to a premiére. Thousands of people saw them together. And he was proud to be Susie’s escort. But the very next day, that fact was blown up into a full-fledged romance, and it wasn’t so. He hadn’t been taking Susie to the nightclubs, to out-of-the-way restaurants, or for long rides up the beach. They hadn’t commiserated with each other.

Susan had left for Mexico and the The Garden Of Evil on November 18. He hadn’t seen her since.

Then Jeff and Susie were never high school sweethearts?

“Look,” the iron man explained. “She attended Girls’ Commercial High. No boys allowed. I went to Erasmus Hall High School. Both high schools are in Brooklyn, and they’re not far from each other.

“We did go to elementary school together. Public School No. 181. I guess we were about eleven, maybe twelve years old. After that I didn’t see her for years.

“When I came out to the coast, we ran into each other a couple of times. Once we were on a Red Cross radio show, and another time on a Hedda Hopper program. Susie and Lew Ayres were playing the leads inMagnificent Obsession. I was in the supporting cast. That was it until a few weeks ago. Then I called her up. We were two people who used to know each other, and I said, ‘How are you? Would you like to go to this thing with me?’ And she said, ‘Okay,’ and that’s it.

“Right away the newspapers played it up as a big thing, and it became embarrassing not only to me, but to my wife. That’s the whole truth.”

Jeff is scrupulously honest. When he talks with the press, there are no curves, no wild throws, no fast ones. It’s straight down the middle.

Susan Hayward corroborated Jeff’s explanation when she appeared at the Court of Conciliation to frustrate her husband’s final legal attempt to reconcile their marital differences.

“I’ve been out with Mr. Chandler once,” Susan said, “and it was a purely professional affair. Right now, all I’m interested in is getting a divorce from my husband.

“There won’t be any reconciliation. The only reason I’m down here is because I believe the idea of this court is an excellent one. It should be used by more people.”

Asked if she still loved her husband, Susan answered with a definite “no.” She asserted that she loved only her two children, Greg and Tim, eight-and-a-half-year-old twins.

She was asked to pose for pictures with Barker. At first she refused. Gradually, however, she thawed out and consented to have photographs taken with the husband she has accused of beating her up and Superior Court Judge Georgia Bullock who is responsible for the workings of the Court of Conciliation.

Mrs. Harpstrite, the Conciliation Commissioner, heard both sides of the story. First she interviewed Susan, who told her that a reconcilation was completely out of the question. She had married Jess Barker on July 23, 1944. The twins came along soon after. She and her husband fought incessantly. On several occasions he had slapped her around. They had separated in 1947 and she had hired an attorney to go ahead with divorce proceedings.

Fully dedicated to her marital vows, however, she had even then made an effort to save the marriage by going to the Institute of Marital Relations, where a well-publicized sociologist had talked both of them into trying a reconciliation.

Late in 1953, however, after she and Jess had returned from a trip to Europe, Barker had beaten her so badly that her screams had brought the police to their home.

She felt sorry for Jess, she explained. He was a fine actor, and her career had outdistanced his. His ego had been hurt and his will frustrated.

She was perfectly agreeable to fair visitation rights. If he wanted to see his sons every weekend, that was all right with her, but a reconciliation was out. She had filed for divorce on grounds of mental. cruelty. She was determined to get away from Barker once and for all. The divorce would proceed.

Mrs. Harpstrite then interviewed Jess Barker, tall, thirty-nine, sandy-blond and good looking. Jess said he was interested in preserving his marriage. That was why when Mrs. Barker had filed for divorce he had insisted upon a reconciliation proceeding. No effort was too great to save his marriage. He had even switched lawyers. He had gone from the famed Jerry Giesler to Sammy Hahn. All he wanted, he urged, was that Susan try living with him just one more time.

Susan and Jess were then interviewed together. There was no meeting of minds. Finally, their lawyers were called in, and it was announced that “a very amicable visitation arrangement has been reached. Miss Hayward is to have custody of Timothy and Gregory, the twins, and Mr. Barker is to have custody of them each weekend.”

That night Susan flew off to Mexico City where Gary Cooper and other members of the cast were waiting to start production of The Garden Of Evil. Her mother, who had arrived from the East, took charge of the boys.

Since Susan had refused even to discuss reconciliation, the very next day Jess Barker asked the Superior Court to deny Susan a divorce and to give him half of their community property, which he estimates as currently exceeding $300,000.

As his lawyer pointed out; “Jess doesn’t want a divorce. He isn’t asking for one. He claims his wife has no grounds for a divorce. She says he hit her. I say how about all the times she hit him. My client has behaved like a perfect gentleman all through this mess. against his wife.

“He is worried about the future of his children. He doesn’t want them to grow up in a broken home. He is sure the marriage could work.

“If Miss Hayward is willing to try to make it work, he’s willing to renounce all his rights to their community property.”

The following is Jess Barker’s list of community assets:

Cash savings$59,878.95
Tax reserve8,064.76
Accounts receivable401.90
Unemply. ins. rec’ble.235.50
Life insurance receivable4,570.00
Accred. Fed. old age ben.488.47
Stocks and securities93,529.83
Automobiles js10,923.12
Real Estate51,577.29
Personal effects24,252.42

Barker also points out that there is “additional community property in plaintiff’s possession, the nature and extent of which is unknown to affiant at this time.”

Susan has five more years to run on an employment contract with 20th Century-Fox which brings her $5,000 a week, fifty-two weeks a year.

“That contract,” according to Jess’ lawyer, “is also community property. And my client is willing to waive his rights in that, too.”

When Susan first filed her divorce complaint, she stated, “There is no community property belonging to plaintiff and defendant. All of the property, both real and personal, in plaintiff’s possession is her sole and separate property.”

Miss Hayward’s husband has also requested that Susan be compelled to pay the fees for his attorneys since all the community funds are under her control and he doesn’t have any.

This divorce case threatens to develop into a no-holds-barred contest, equal in antagonism to the recent case of John Wayne versus Chata Wayne.

Is Jess Barker entitled to 50% of the community property, practically all of which was earned by his wife? That is the crux of the case.

When it comes up on January 19, Edythe Marrener Barker (Susan’s real name) is going to offer evidence to the court, a document allegedly signed by Jess Barker, in which he agreed to waive all rights to any future community property.

Susan had Jess sign this document in a pre-marital agreement. Apparently she was well-prepared to safeguard her interests, even ten years ago—if the signature is Barker’s.

Jess Barker is determined to fight his wife. Susie is prepared to fight back, and when this girl fights she pulls no punches. Somebody has said Susan Hayward wears brass knuckles on her tongue, and that she has the kind of hard brown eyes which look out but into which no one can look.

One of her few Hollywood friends says, “Don’t judge Susie by her exterior. For the last ten years she has been living a lie. She’s been too proud to admit defeat. She tried to make people believe that she had everything—a happy home, a great career, a wonderful, understanding husband.

“The truth is that, at thirty-six, she has nothing but a career and some money. They’ve never brought her any great happiness. Security, yes. Happiness, no.

“She came up the hard way. She fought and scrapped and worked hard. She is a proud girl and her pride is responsible for most of her trouble.

“Right after she married Jess, she knew it wouldn’t work. But she was pregnant, so she stuck with it hoping things would grow better. Domestically, they didn’t, but her pride held her back. She wouldn’t admit failure.

“Now that she has admitted it, she’s got a fight for freedom on her hands. I don’t know what will happen to her after she gets the divorce. She has many qualities which will frighten the potential husband she wants and needs. After all, you can’t find many men who can equal her earning power.

“You read a lot about Susie and Jeff Chandler. Jeff is a well-balanced man, and a strong man. As an actor, he hasn’t realized one half of his potential. He would make her a fine husband if in another five years Susan would abandon her career and let him take care of her.

“In another five years she’ll be forty-one, and maybe by then she will be ready for domesticity. But for the last nine years, she has not only worn the pants in her house but she has controlled the purse strings.”

When Susan filed for divorce, she asked the court to issue a restraining order to prevent Jess from visiting her and slugging her.

“Defendant,” she claimed, “has more than once during the last two months inflicted physical harm upon affiant. Since the separation of the parties, defendant came to affiant’s residence and used physical violence on affiant. By reason of defendant’s conduct, affiant has reasonable grounds to fear that unless restrained, defendant will attempt to see affiant, will attempt to annoy and molest her by physical violence and otherwise.”





No Comments
Leave a Comment