This story about a talented red-headed actress began when we recently were in Carrollton, Georgia, for a great-granddaughter’s fourth birthday party. While stopped for a gasoline fill-up at a convenience store, I picked up the May-June edition of “West Georgia Living,” which featured movie star Susan Hayward and her husband, Floyd Eaton Chalkley, on its front cover.
Inside was Hayward’s life story. Fascinating! I discovered that she had once lived in Carroll County, Georgia, from 1957 to 1966, becoming a “local farm girl” (in between making movies) after marrying a former FBI agent turned local auto dealer. (They also owned a 600-acre farm in Cleburne County, near Heflin).
When I mentioned the article to my daughter, she told us “get in the car,” and drove us to see the house and property where the Chalkleys had lived from 1957-1966. Then, she took us to the small church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and its cemetery built on land donated by them. And here, another story unfolded (more on that later).
It would take a while to count the number of Hollywood’s leading actors who co-starred with the vivacious Hayward over three decades of top-rated films. There were John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Fred McMurray, Rod Cameron, Joe E. Brown, Dick Powell, Ray Milland, Robert Preston and others. And Hollywood’s actresses shared screen credits with the Brooklyn-born Edith Marrenner, renamed Susan Hayward after she arrived in the nation’s film capital.
The internet is full of her life stories — telling of her teenage years as model featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, to being chosen in 1937…
click here to read more.