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Margaret Sullavan

Margaret Sullavan

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Also Known As: Margaret Brooke Sullavan Died: January 1, 1960
Born: May 16, 1911 Cause of Death: overdose of barbiturates
Birth Place: Norfolk, Virginia, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A petite brunette with large eyes dominating her small, attractively angular face, Margaret Sullavan made her stage debut with the University Players (which included James Stewart and Henry Fonda) in Falmouth, MA, and entered films in 1933. With her husky voice and unique, magnetic charm Sullavan was an immediate success, proving herself airy and delightful in comedy ("The Good Fairy" 1935, "The Shop Around the Corner" 1939) and wistful and poignant in drama ("Only Yesterday", her 1933 debut; "Three Comrades" 1938). Her unstable temperament and her critical disdain for the Hollywood establishment, however, significantly reduced her screen output, facilitating her many returns to Broadway. She was married to Henry Fonda, William Wyler and producer-agent Leland Hayward. Sullavan suffered a number of mental health problems (including severe depression brought on partly by increasing deafness in middle age) and died of a drug overdose. A family memoir, "Haywire" (1977), was written by her daughter, Brooke Hayward.

A petite brunette with large eyes dominating her small, attractively angular face, Margaret Sullavan made her stage debut with the University Players (which included James Stewart and Henry Fonda) in Falmouth, MA, and entered films in 1933. With her husky voice and unique, magnetic charm Sullavan was an immediate success, proving herself airy and delightful in comedy ("The Good Fairy" 1935, "The Shop Around the Corner" 1939) and wistful and poignant in drama ("Only Yesterday", her 1933 debut; "Three Comrades" 1938). Her unstable temperament and her critical disdain for the Hollywood establishment, however, significantly reduced her screen output, facilitating her many returns to Broadway. She was married to Henry Fonda, William Wyler and producer-agent Leland Hayward. Sullavan suffered a number of mental health problems (including severe depression brought on partly by increasing deafness in middle age) and died of a drug overdose. A family memoir, "Haywire" (1977), was written by her daughter, Brooke Hayward.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Great Depression, The (1988) ("Summer Theatres" - "Economy Blues")
2.
 No Sad Songs for Me (1950) Mary Scott
3.
 Cry 'Havoc' (1944) Lieutenant [Mary "Smitty"] Smith
4.
 Appointment for Love (1941) [Dr.] Jane Alexander [Cassil]
5.
 Back Street (1941) Ray Smith
6.
 So Ends Our Night (1941) Ruth Holland
7.
 The Shop Around the Corner (1940) Klara Novak
8.
 The Mortal Storm (1940) Freya Roth
9.
 The Shining Hour (1938) Judy Linden
10.
 Three Comrades (1938) Patricia Hollmann
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked at the Harvard Cooperative Bookstore (for ($18 a week) while at drama school
1928:
Joined the University Players, community theater at Falmouth, M assachusetts (summer)
1928:
Made social debut in Norfolk, Virginia (winter)
1929:
Returned to University Players
1929:
Made stage debut in summer touring production of Preston Sturges's "Strictly Dishonorable"
1929:
Rejoined University Players in Baltimore for stock season; co-starring with Henry Fonda
1931:
Broadway debut, "A Modern Virgin"
1933:
First Broadway success as replacement for Marguerite Churchill in "Dinner at Eight"; signed by Universal on her terms ($1,200 weekly, three years, nonexclusive and with approval rights)
1933:
Film debut, "Only Yesterday"
1936:
On expiration of Universal contract, returned to Broadway in non-starring role in "Stage Door"
1947:
London stage debut, "The Voice of the Turtle"
1948:
Appeared on TV in first "Studio One" production
1950:
Returned to films after an absence of seven years in "No Sad Songs For Me"
1956:
Withdrew from hit comedy "Janus" for health reasons; disappeared on day scheduled to appear on TV in "The Pilot"; committed herself to a sanitarium for nervous exhaustion;
1960:
Was appearing in out-of-town tryout of "Sweet Love Remember'd" in New Haven when she was found dead of a drug overdose
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Sullins College: Bristol , Virginia -
Denishawn School of Dance: Boston , Massachusetts -
St George School: Norfolk , Virginia -
Norfolk Tutoring School: Norfolk , Virginia -
Chatham Episcopal Institute: Chatham , Virginia -
E E Clive's Copley Theatre Dramatic School: Boston , Massachusetts - 1928

Notes

"Acting in the movies is just like ditch-digging"--Margaret Sullavan

"I still hate making pictures! And I don't like Hollywood any better. I detest the limelight and love simplicity, and in Hollywood the only thing that matters is the hullabaloo of fame. If Hollywood will let me alone to find my way without forcing me and rushing me into things, I probably will change my feelings about it. But at present Hollywood seems utterly horrible and interfering and consuming. Which is why I want to leave it as soon as I am able."--Margaret Sullavan to "Photoplay" magazine after completing second film, "Little Man, What Now?" (1934)

"She was a willful, ambitious, feminine, honest, and warm actress whose talents were largely untapped by her second-rate tragic heroine screen assignments. She died from an overdose of sleeping pills when she could no longer cope with the almost total loss of her hearing". ("The MGM Stock Company")

"Eight days after her death it was revealed that she had been almost totally deaf, a disability she had been fighting since 1948". ("MGM Stock Company")

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Henry Fonda. Actor. First husband; married on December 25, 1931, divorced.
husband:
William Wyler. Director. Second husband; married on November 11, 1934 (while he was directing her in "The Good Fairy"); divorced on March 13, 1936.
husband:
Leland Hayward. Producer, agent. Third husband, married on November 15, 1937 (while he was her agent); divorced in 1947.
husband:
Kenneth Arthur Wagg. Industrialist. Fourth husband; married from 1950 until her death in 1960; British.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Cornelius Hancock Sullavan. Broker.
mother:
Garland Sullavan.
daughter:
Brooke Hayward. Actor, author. Born in July 1937; penned memoir of her family and events leading to her mother's death, "Haywire".
daughter:
Bridget Hayward. Born in 1939.
son:
William Leland Hayward. Born in 1941.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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