Margaret Sullavan

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Margaret Sullavan's Geni Profile

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Margaret Brooke Wagg (Sullavan)

Birthdate: (50)
Birthplace: Norfolk, VA, USA
Death: Died in New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States
Cause of death: Overdose of barbitrates.
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Cornelius Sullavan and Garland Sullavan
Wife of Kenneth Arthur Wagg
Ex-wife of Henry Fonda; William Wyler and William “Leland” Hayward II
Mother of <private> Duchin (Hayward); William Hayward and Bridget Hayward

Occupation: actress
Managed by: Harris Andrew Shapiro
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Margaret Sullavan

Margaret Brooke Sullavan was an American stage and film actress. Sullavan started her career on the stage in 1929. In 1933 she caught the attention of movie director John M. Stahl and had her debut on the screen that same year in Only Yesterday. Sullavan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Three Comrades (1938). She died of an overdose of barbiturates on January 1, 1960 at the age of 50.

She was born on May 16, 1909 (studio publicity incorrectly reported her year of birth as 1911) in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of a wealthy stockbroker, Cornelius Sullavan and his wife, Garland Brooke. The first years of Margaret's childhood were spent isolated from other children. She suffered from a painful muscular weakness in the legs that prevented her from walking, so that she was unable to mingle with other children until the age of six. After recovery she emerged as an adventurous and tomboyish child who preferred playing with the children from the poorer neighborhood, much to the regrets of her class-conscious parents.

She debuted onstage at age 17 with the now-celebrated University Players, a troupe which included several other future stars, including Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda. Three years later she made it to Broadway, and in 1933 she signed a lucrative film contract. For most of the next decade she was busy as a lead actress, but she had frequent disputes with her studio so occasionally returned to Broadway. In films she tended to be cast in melodramatic tear-jerkers, although she also proved her talents in straight dramas and sophisticated comedies. For her work in Three Comrades (1938) she won the New York film critics "Best Actress" award. For her work in Broadway's The Voice of the Turtle (1943) she won the Drama Critics Award.

Sullavan preferred working on the stage and did only 16 movies. She retired from the screen in 1943, but returned in 1950 to make her last movie, No Sad Songs For Me (1950), in which she plays a woman who is dying of cancer. For the rest of her career she would only appear on the stage.

In the late '40s she began to lose her hearing, and eventually she was nearly deaf; nevertheless, she continued a successful stage career. Her four husbands included actor Henry Fonda, director William Wyler, and producer-agent Leland Hayward. At 49 she took an overdose of barbiturates and died; her death was ruled a suicide. Her daughter, Brooke Hayward, wrote a memoir of the tragic years leading to Sullavan's death called Haywire.

For her contribution to motion pictures, Margaret Sullavan received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine Street.

Actress, Movie Star

Margaret Sullavan was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of a wealthy stockbroker, Cornelius Sullavan and his wife, Garland Brooke.

Married to actor Henry Fonda, director William Wyler, agent and producer Leland Hayward, investment banker Kenneth Wagg

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Margaret Sullavan's Timeline

May 16, 1909
Norfolk, VA, USA
Age 29
Age 31