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Sterling Hayden Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (5) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (14) | Personal Quotes (25)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 26 March 1916Upper Montclair, New Jersey, USA
Date of Death 23 May 1986Sausalito, California, USA  (prostate cancer)
Birth NameSterling Relyea Walter
Nicknames The Most Beautiful Man in the Movies
The Beautiful Blond Viking God
Height 6' 5" (1.96 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born to George & Frances Simonson Walter, and named Sterling Relyea Walter. Father died in 1925. Adopted by stepfather 'James Hayden' renamed Sterling Walter Hayden. Grew up in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Maine. Though very poor, attended prep school at Wassookeag School in Dexter, Maine. Ran away to sea at 17, first as ship's boy, then as doryman on the Grand Banks, as a seaman and fireman on numerous vessels before getting his first command at 19. He sailed around the world a number of times, becoming a well-known and highly respected ship's captain. At urging of friends, met with producer Edward H. Griffith who signs him to a Paramount contract. Fell for his first leading lady, Madeleine Carroll, and married her. Prior to Pearl Harbor, abandoned Hollywood to become a commando with the COI (later the OSS). Joined Marines under pseudonym "John Hamilton" (a name he never acts under), eventually running guns and supplies to Yugoslav partisans through the German blockade of the Adriatic, as well as parachuting into Croatia for guerrilla activities. Won Silver Star and citation from Tito of Yugoslavia. Briefly flirted with Communist Party membership due to friendship with Yugoslav Communists. Returned to film work, which he despised, in order to pay for a succession of sailing vessels. As Red Scare deepens in U.S., he cooperated with the House Un-American Activities Committee, confessing his brief Communist ties. Ever after regretted this action, holding himself in enormous contempt for what he considered "ratting". Offered role of Tarzan as replacement for Lex Barker, but refused. Made headlines defying court order not to sail to Tahiti with his children following divorce decree. Published autobiography "Wanderer" in 1963, and novel "Voyage" in 1976, both to great acclaim. Cast as Quint in Jaws (1975) but unable to play due to tax problems. Died of cancer in 1986.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (5)

Catherine Devine McConnell (9 March 1960 - 23 May 1986) (his death) (2 children)
Betty Ann de Noon (c. 1956 - 1958) (remarriage; divorced)
Betty Ann de Noon (c. 1954 - c.1955) (remarriage; divorced)
Betty Ann de Noon (25 April 1947 - 1953) (divorced) (4 children)
Madeleine Carroll (14 February 1942 - 8 May 1946) (divorced)

Trade Mark (4)

His towering frame and powerful stature.
In film noir parts, frequently spoke his lines in rapid-fire delivery.
Often played hard-drinking (possibly alcoholic) and scheming characters.
Deep voice

Trivia (14)

In 1941, Paramount studios started advertising him as "The Most Beautiful Man in the Movies!"
Was first choice of producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown to play the role of Quint in Jaws (1975), but Hayden's tax problems with the US government--he lived outside the country and if he entered the US he would have been arrested--precluded his taking the role.
Dropped out of high school at the age of 15 and became a sailor, earning his master's license by the age of 21.
When the US entered World War II, Hayden changed his name to John Hamilton to obscure his Hollywood past, and joined the Office of Strategic Services--the predecessor of the CIA--headed by Col. "Wild Bill" Donovan, whose son Hayden had sailed with. Trained in guerrilla warfare, Hayden operated a fishing boat off of Yugoslavia to pick up downed Allied pilots and to supply Josip Broz Tito's Communist partisans. He won a Silver Star and a promotion to captain by the time he was discharged in 1945. He had also become enthusiastic about Communism, and joined the Communist Party after he returned to Hollywood. According to Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley's book "Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s", he was recruited by actress Karen Morley, who was a party activist, and screenwriter and future director Abraham Polonsky assigned him to a group of backlot workers to learn union militancy. He and others like him were, according to Billingsley, tasked with swinging the Screen Writers Guild to the supposedly Communist-controlled Conference of Studio Unions, which launched a strike against the studios in 1946-1947. Communist Party membership was secret, and they were to keep their identities secret from other non-Communist industry and union people, Billingsley claimed. Hayden later joined the Committee for the First Amendment, a group of politically active Hollywood actors that included John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye and John Garfield that opposed the House Un-American Activities Committee's persecution of the Hollywood 19, who were suspected of Communist Party membership (the 19 later devolved into the Hollywood 10). Huston vetted the group's members to ensure that none of them were or had been Communists, and when it came out that Hayden was one, the group broke up. Members like Bogart felt that they had been used by the Communist Party, and were not amused.
Had four children with Betty Ann de Noon. The couple married and divorced three times and went through a nasty custody battle.
He was the original choice to play the knife thrower Britt in The Magnificent Seven (1960). The part went to James Coburn when Hayden proved unavailable.
Bought a canal barge in the Netherlands and moved it to Paris to live on it part of the time (1969).
Had six children: Christian, Dana, Gretchen and Matthew with Betty Ann de Noon; Andrew and David with Catherine Devine McConnell.
In his childhood, he lived in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and Maine.
In 1980, the perpetually hard-up-for-cash Hayden was cast in the film Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981) at a salary of $250,000 ($50,000 per week for five weeks), but broke his contract to go to Yugoslavia to cover the death of Josip Broz Tito for "Rolling Stone" magazine on spec, with no money up front. He told Tom Snyder in a 1981 interview on Tomorrow Coast to Coast (1973) that he never did finish the article.
According to his 1963 memoir "Wanderer", Hayden reluctantly accepted a co-starring role in A Summer Place (1959) for $40,000 (approximately $314,000 in 2012 dollars) when his ex-wife Betty Ann de Noon prevented him from sailing to Scandinavia in his sloop The Wanderer with their four children. Hayden took the part because he was broke due to legal bills related to his three divorces from De Noon and their prolonged child custody battle and because of his cavalier disregard for money. A seasoned sailor, he intended to use the sea voyage, which he planned to film as a TV series or a documentary, as a vehicle to leave Hollywood behind. He took a $50,000 advance for the documentary but never made it or "A Summer Place". Hayden appeared in only one TV show in 1960 before making Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) four years later for his The Killing (1956) director Stanley Kubrick, as he followed through with his plan to ditch Hollywood.
Eric Roberts, his co-star in King of the Gypsies (1978), claimed that Hayden was a regular smoker of hashish.
Universal Studios were so keen on having Sterling play the role of Quint in Jaws they tried to get round his tax problems. Being heavily in debt to the IRS for back taxes had caused Sterling to live abroad for many years and if he entered the States to do film work most of his pay would be seized by the IRS. However he was also a writer and those earnings wouldn't be subject to any penalty so the studio came up with the idea of paying him the union rate for the film and a large sum for a script but the IRS saw through the scheme and put a stop to it.
Was considered for the role of Tarzan by Sol Lesser Productions/RKO Radio Pictures to replaced Johnny Weissmuller. Desiring more dramatic parts and a more serious career, he declined in favor of Lex Barker.

Personal Quotes (25)

Incredible, really - how I got away with it; parlaying nine years at sea into two decades of posturing.
To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
There's nothing wrong with being an actor, if that's what a man wants. But there's everything wrong with achieving an exalted status simply because one photographs well and is able to handle dialogue.
I have yet to invest the first dime because I don't believe in unearned income. The question is inevitable: "If you don't believe in taking what you don't earn, then how could you be reconciled to the astronomical figures [you make]?" I never was. Furthermore, I couldn't stand the work.
[on his films] Bastards, most of them, conceived in contempt of life and spewn out onto screens across the world with noxious ballyhoo; saying nothing, contemptuous of the truth, sullen, and lecherous.
[on why he hated acting] Because, in the final analysis, an actor is only a pawn - brilliant sometimes, rare and talented, capable of bringing pleasure and even inspiration to others, but no less a pawn for that.
[on his fling with Communism] What did I care for labor? For racial discrimination? For civil liberties and the war between the classes? Oh, I cared in my own fashion. I cared just enough to embrace these things as props, flailing away night after night at semi-drunken parties.
I wonder whether there has ever before been a man who bought a schooner and joined the Communist Party all on the same day.
[on quitting the Communist Party] I'd rather be wrong on my own than be right on somebody else's say-so.
I'm not a member of the Party. I'm not under the discipline or influence of the Party, not that I know of. What's more, I never was, even when I was a member.
I did nothing in 1947, for which Paramount paid me $70,000.
[on acting] You don't need talent to star in a motion picture. All you need is some intelligence AND the ability to work freely in front of the lens. Why do I always freeze? I went through the war. I jumped out of bombers. I played kick-the-can with E-boats when all we had was a lousy 40-foot dragger with six machine guns and a top speed of six knots. Yet whenever I get a closeup in a nice warm studio, I curl up and die.
[on confessing his Communist ties] I don't think you have the foggiest notion of the contempt I have had for myself since the day I did that thing . . . It's the one thing in my life that I'm categorically ashamed of.
[to producers at end of each picture] When you took me, who did you REALLY want for the picture?
[after shooting Johnny Guitar (1954)] There is not enough money in Hollywood to lure me into making another picture with Joan Crawford. And I like money.
It seems to me the people in the [Communist] Party not only know what's going on in the world but they have the guts to determine a course of action . . . In Yugoslavia . . . when the going got rough and it was time to be counted, it was the Communists who stood up and fought.
I started at the top and worked my way down.
I don't think there are many other businesses where you can be paid good money and not know what you're doing.
If I had the dough I'd buy up the negative of every film I ever made . . . and start one hell of a fire.
[on The Long Goodbye (1973)] That was first thing I ever did that I could actually stand to watch on screen - the first time I wasn't acutely mortified.
I work when I get broke or when something comes along that has some integrity or guts.
What confuses me is I ain't all that unhappy. So why do I drink, I don't know.
[on director Stanley Kubrick] By the time of [Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)] he had become very human -- maybe it was the power that came with successes like Lolita (1962) -- for he is now very strong. My first day was torture. I was nervous, scared, did 48 takes. I expected Kubrick to explode but instead he was gentle, calmed me, convinced me that the fear in my eyes would help the character.
[on director Bernardo Bertolucci] Bertolucci is not like most directors I've worked with; there's something beautiful, crazy, special about him. He's funny, too. He operates like a writer. No one knows what he's going to do. Several million dollars are riding on him alone. He has the power, he goes ahead, upsets those who plan schedules, takes his own time, follows his own genius.
You should make a film from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, really, it's about the sanctity of all life on Earth... we need it now. [To documentary filmmaker, Raul daSilva, who went ahead and spent the next two years of his life (1973-1975) on the film Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1975). The film received six international film festival prizes and universal critical acclaim].

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