• 3 July 1921
  •  Spokane, Washington, USA

Susan Peters


War-era MGM had a lovely, luminous star in the making with Susan Peters. She possessed a creative talent and innate sensitivity that would surely have reigned as a leading Hollywood player for years to come had not a tragic and cruel twist of fate taken everything away from her. She was born Suzanne Carnahan in Spokane, Washington on July 3, 1921, the eldest of two children. Her father, Robert, a construction engineer, was killed in an automobile accident in 1928, and the remaining family relocated to Los Angeles to live with Susan's grandmother. Attending various schools growing up, she excelled in athletics and studied drama in her senior year at Hollywood High School where she was spotted by a talent scout. Following graduation, she found an agent and enrolled at Max Reinhardt's School of Dramatic Arts. While performing in a showcase, she was spotted by a Warner Bros. casting agent, tested and signed to the studio in 1940. Making her debut as an extra Susan and God (1940), she saw little progress and eventually became frustrated at the many bit parts thrown her way. Billed by her given name Suzanne Carnahan (known for possessing a zesty stubborn streak, she had refused to use the studio's made-up stage name of Sharon O'Keefe), Susan was barely given a line in many of her early movies. She did test for a lead role in Kings Row (1942) but lost out to Betty Field. Susan's first big break came with the Humphrey Bogart potboiler The Big Shot (1942), where she was fourth-billed and had the second female lead. Dropped by Warners, MGM picked up her contract and adopted a new stage name for her, Susan Peters. In the Marjorie Main vehicle Tish (1942), Susan earned a co-starring part and met actor Richard Quine on the set. Quine played her husband in the film. The couple also appeared together in the film Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant (1942), and married in real life in November of 1943. Susan won the role of Ronald Colman's sister's teenager stepdaughter (and a potential love interest of the Colman character) in the profoundly moving film Random Harvest (1942) and earned an Academy Award nomination for "Best Supporting Actress" for her efforts. Her potential in that film was quickly discovered and she continued to offer fine work in lesser movies such as the WWII spy tale Assignment in Brittany (1943), the slight comedy Young Ideas (1943) and the romantic war drama Song of Russia (1944), in which she touchingly played Nadya, a young Soviet pianist who falls for Robert Taylor. For these performances, Susan was named "Star of Tomorrow" along with Van Johnson and others. Then tragedy struck a little more than a year after her wedding day. While on a 1945 New Year's Day duck-hunting trip in the San Diego area with her husband and friends, one of the hunting rifles accidentally discharged when Susan went to retrieve it. The bullet lodged in her spine. Permanently paralyzed from the waist down, MGM paid for her bills but was eventually forced to settle her contract. Susan valiantly forged on with frequent work on radio. In 1946 Susan and Richard happily adopted a son, Timothy Richard, but two years later she divorced Quine -- some say she felt she was too much of a burden. Appearing with Lana Turner as a demure soldier's wife in Keep Your Powder Dry (1945), which was filmed before but released a year after her accident, Susan made a film "comeback" with The Sign of the Ram (1948), the melodramatic tale of an embittered, manipulative, wheelchair-bound woman who tries to destroy the happiness of all around her, but audiences were not all that receptive. She also turned to the stage with tours of "The Glass Menagerie," in which she played the crippled daughter Laura from a wheelchair (with permission from playwright Tennessee Williams), and "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" opposite Tom Poston, wherein she performed the role of poet and chronic invalid Elizabeth Barrett Browning entirely from a couch. In March of 1951 she portrayed an Ironside-like lawyer in the TV series Martinsville, U.S.A. (1951) but the show ran for less than one season, folding in December of that year. After this, the increasingly frail actress, who was constantly racked with pain, went into virtual seclusion. Suffering from acute depression and plagued by kidney problems and pneumonia, she finally lost her will to live and died at the age of 31 on October 23, 1952, of kidney failure and starvation, prompted by a developing eating disorder (anorexia nervosa). It was a profoundly sad and most unfortunate end to such a beautiful, courageous spirit and promising talent.


Movie Name Release Date
Αιχμάλωτοι του παρελθόντος – Random Harvest (1942) June 2, 1947