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July 3, 1921
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
|Died||October 23, 1952
Visalia, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Spouse(s)||Richard Quine (m. 1943–48)|
Susan Peters (July 3, 1921 – October 23, 1952) was an American stage, film and television actress.
Peters was born Suzanne Carnahan in Spokane, Washington. First contracted by Warner Brothers, she subsequently began working for MGM Studios after completing high school. Her first job was to read with potential actors in their screen tests. Before long she had impressed studio executives with her own talent, and they began casting her in films.
For the first two years she used her given name and played small, often uncredited parts in films such as Meet John Doe (1941) before adopting her stage name. But her beguiling acting in a supporting role in the MGM programmer Tish resulted in a studio contract. Her first substantial role, in Random Harvest (1942), earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination.
Further impressed, MGM began to groom her for starring roles, casting her in several lesser productions that allowed her to learn her craft. A starring role in Song of Russia (1943) earned her critical acclaim, but the film was not a commercial success. However, in 1944 she was one of ten actors who were elevated from "featured player" status to the studio's official "star" category; the others included Esther Williams, Laraine Day, Kathryn Grayson, Van Johnson, Margaret O'Brien, Ginny Simms, Robert Walker, Gene Kelly, and George Murphy. An official portrait taken of MGM's contracted players during this period prominently features Peters sharing the front row with the head of the studio himself, Louis B. Mayer, and alongside such actors as James Stewart, Mickey Rooney, Margaret Sullavan, Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, and Greer Garson.
Injury and subsequent death
Peters was married to the actor and popular film director Richard Quine on November 7, 1943. The couple adopted a son named Timothy Richard Quine. Peters and her husband were duck hunting on January 1, 1945 when a rifle accidentally discharged and she was injured; the bullet lodged in her spinal cord. The accident left her permanently paralyzed from the waist down, which required her to use a wheelchair. Her mother, who had maintained a bedside vigil during her stay in the hospital, died in December 1945. Yet Peters attempted to continue her acting career.
MGM continued to pay her salary, but, unable to find suitable projects, Peters subsequently left the studio. She returned to the screen in the lead role in Columbia's The Sign of the Ram (1948), but the film failed to win an audience. A starring role as a lawyer in the 1951 television series Miss Susan was also unsuccessful. She toured in stage productions of The Glass Menagerie and The Barretts of Wimpole Street, and her performances were highly regarded, but her disability made her a difficult actress to cast.
Her career faltered, and after she and her husband separated in May 1948, Peters suffered from depression. Her health continued to deteriorate until her death at age 31 in Visalia, California, from kidney disease and pneumonia complicated by anorexia nervosa. Peters left her estate to her former husband.
|1940||Susan and God||Party Guest||Uncredited|
|1940||The Man Who Talked Too Much||Bit role||Uncredited|
|1940||Young America Flies||One of Jack's girlfriends||Uncredited|
|1940||Money and the Woman||Depositor||Uncredited|
|1940||Santa Fe Trail||Charlotte Davis||Credited as Suzanne Carnahan|
|1941||The Strawberry Blonde||Girl||Uncredited|
|1941||Here Comes Happiness||Miss Brown||Uncredited|
|1941||Meet John Doe||Autograph Hound||Uncredited|
|1941||Scattergood Pulls the Strings||Ruth Savage|
|1941||Three Sons o' Guns||Mary Tyler|
|1942||The Big Shot||Ruth Carter|
|1942||Tish||Cora Edwards Bowzer|
|1942||Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant||Mrs. Howard Allwinn Young|
|1942||Random Harvest||Kitty||Nominated: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1942||Andy Hardy's Double Life||Sue, Wainwright Coed on Train|
|1943||Assignment in Brittany||Anne Pinot|
|1943||Young Ideas||Susan Evans|
|1944||Song of Russia||Nadya Stepanova|
|1945||Keep Your Powder Dry||Ann "Annie" Darrison|
|1948||The Sign of the Ram||Leah St. Aubyn|
|1951||Miss Susan||Susan Martin||Unknown episodes|
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