Weld, c. 1960
|Born||Susan Ker Weld
August 27, 1943
New York City, New York, U.S.
Tuesday Weld (born Susan Ker Weld; August 27, 1943) is an American actress. She began acting when she was a child, and progressed to mature roles in the late 1950s. She won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Female Newcomer in 1960. Over the following decade she established a career playing dramatic roles in films.
Her work, often as a featured performer in supporting roles, was acknowledged with nominations for a Golden Globe Award for Play It as It Lays (1972), a nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), an Emmy Award for The Winter of Our Discontent (1983), and a BAFTA for Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Since the late 1980s, her acting appearances have been infrequent.
Background and family
Weld was born Susan Ker Weld in New York City. Her father, Lathrop Motley Weld, was a member of the Weld family of Massachusetts; he died in 1947, shortly before his daughter's fourth birthday. Her mother, Yosene Balfour Ker, daughter of the artist and Life illustrator William Balfour Ker, was Lathrop Weld's fourth and final wife. Susan Ker Weld was one of three siblings, the other two being Sarah King Weld (born 1935) and David Balfour Weld (born 1937). Weld had her name legally changed to Tuesday Weld on October 9, 1959.
Left in financial difficulty by her husband's death, Weld's mother put Susan to work as a model to support the family. As the young actress told Life in 1971:
My father's family came from Tuxedo Park, and they offered to take us kids and pay for our education, on the condition that Mama never see us again. Mama was an orphan who had come here from London, but so far as my father’s family was concerned, she was strictly from the gutter. I have to give Mama credit—she refused to give us up… So I became the supporter of the family, and I had to take my father’s place in many, many ways. I was expected to make up for everything that had ever gone wrong in Mama’s life. She became obsessed with me, pouring out her pent-up love—her alleged love—on me, and it's been heavy on my shoulders ever since. Mama still thinks I owe everything to her.
Using Weld's résumé from modeling, her mother secured her an agent. Tuesday (an extension of her childhood nickname, "Tu-Tu", so named by her young cousin, Mary Ker, who could not pronounce "Susan") Weld made her acting debut on television at the age of 12, and her feature film debut that year in a bit role in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock crime drama The Wrong Man. The pressures of her career resulted in a nervous breakdown at age 9, alcoholism by age 12, and a suicide attempt about the same time.
Also in 1956, Weld played the lead in Rock, Rock, Rock, which featured record promoter Alan Freed and singers Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon and Johnny Burnette. In the film, Connie Francis performed the vocals for Weld's singing parts. In 1959, having appeared as Dorothy in The Five Pennies, she was cast in the CBS television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis as Thalia Menninger, the love interest of Dobie Gillis (played by Dwayne Hickman), whose rivals for Thalia's affection included Milton Armitage (played by Warren Beatty). Although Weld was a cast member for only one season, the show created considerable national publicity for her, and she was named a co-winner of a "Most Promising Newcomer" award at the Golden Globe Awards.
She was put under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox and appeared in feature films and episodes of Fox-produced TV series. In 1960, she appeared as Joy, a free-spirited university student in High Time, starring Bing Crosby and Fabian Forte. She sang a love song to Fabian in the season opener of NBC's The Dinah Shore Chevy Show on October 9, 1960. Four weeks later, on November 13, Weld returned to the network as a guest star in NBC's The Tab Hunter Show. On November 12, 1961, she played a singer, Cherie, in the seventh episode of ABC's television series Bus Stop, with Marilyn Maxwell and Gary Lockwood.
Weld's mother was scandalized by her teen daughter's affairs with older men, such as actor John Ireland, but Weld resisted, saying, "'If you don't leave me alone, I'll quit being an actress—which means there ain't gonna be no more money for you, Mama.' Finally, when I was sixteen, I left home. I just went out the door and bought my own house." In 1961, when Weld was 18, she had an off-screen romance with Elvis Presley, her co-star in Wild in the Country.
In 1963, Weld guest-starred as Denise Dunlear in The Eleventh Hour, in the episode "Something Crazy's Going on the Back Room". In 1964 she appeared in the title role of the episode "Keep an Eye on Emily" on Craig Stevens's CBS drama, Mr. Broadway. In the same year she appeared in "Dark Corner", an episode of The Fugitive. Her portrayal of an incest victim in Return to Peyton Place, the sequel to the 1956 film Peyton Place, was well received but the film was less successful than its predecessor.
Weld appeared with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen in the 1963 comedy Soldier in the Rain; her performance was well received, but the film was only a minor success. That same year she and former co-star Dwayne Hickman appeared in Jack Palance's circus drama The Greatest Show on Earth on ABC, in separate episodes. Later in her career, she turned down roles in films that succeeded at the box office, such as Bonnie and Clyde, Rosemary's Baby, True Grit, Cactus Flower and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. In a 1971 interview with the New York Times, Weld explained that she had chosen to reject these roles precisely because she believed they would be commercial successes: "Do you think I want a success? I refused 'Bonnie and Clyde' because I was nursing at the time, but also because deep down I knew it was going to be a huge success. The same was true of 'Bob and Carol and Fred and Sue' or whatever it was called. It reeked of success."
She appeared in 1965 in the successful Norman Jewison film The Cincinnati Kid, opposite Steve McQueen. She went on to notable screen performances in the films Lord Love a Duck (1966), with Roddy McDowall, Ruth Gordon and Harvey Korman; Pretty Poison (1968), co-starring Anthony Perkins; I Walk the Line (1970), opposite Gregory Peck; A Safe Place (1971), co-starring Jack Nicholson and Orson Welles; and Play It as It Lays (1972), again with Perkins, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
In her thirties, Weld attracted attention as the favored, out-of-control Katherine in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress; later she appeared in Who'll Stop the Rain (1978) opposite Nick Nolte; and Michael Mann's acclaimed 1981 film Thief, opposite James Caan. In 1984 she appeared in Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America, playing a jeweler's secretary who is in on a plan to steal a shipment of diamonds. During the robbery her character goads Robert De Niro's character, David "Noodles" Aaronson, into "raping" her with her complicity.
Weld has appeared in a number of television movies, including a remake of the much-filmed tearjerker Madame X (1981), Circle of Violence (1986), Reflections of Murder (1974) (an American remake of the French film Les Diaboliques) and A Question of Guilt (1978), in which she plays a woman accused of murdering her children. In 1993 she played a police officer's neurotic wife in Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall.
Weld has been married three times. She was married to screenwriter Claude Harz, from 1965 until their divorce in 1971. They had a daughter, Natasha, in 1966. Weld told Guy Flatley of The New York Times in 1971:
Mama hated my husband—she's a jealous lover, you know. She's hated all the men I've ever been involved with. But I really felt that what I had been doing up to that time with my life was probably wrong, that maybe what I should be was a housewife. Our marriage lasted 5 years; it was just another one of my mistakes.
She married British actor, musician and comedian Dudley Moore in 1975. In 1976 they had a son, Patrick, an actor, director and editor, but they divorced in 1980. Five years later, she married Israeli concert violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman; they too divorced in 1998.
In popular culture
The cover of Matthew Sweet's third album, Girlfriend, features a photo of Weld from the late 1950s. Originally called Nothing Lasts, the album was retitled after objections to the title from Weld. Sweet's greatest hits compilation, Time Capsule, features photos of Weld on the front and back covers. She was honored with an eponymous song on Walter Egan's fourth CBS album, The Last Stroll.
After a dream involving the actress, Stephen Coates named his lounge swing band The Real Tuesday Weld.
- "Profile of Lathrop M. Weld". The New York Times. June 7, 1947.
- "Yosene Ker a Bride; Wed to Lathrop M. Weld in Municipal Marriage Chapel". The New York Times. January 28, 1934.
- "Tuesday Weld: 'I Didn't Have to Play Lolita – I Was Lolita'". Moviecrazed. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "Name made legal, 1959". Los Angeles Examiner Negatives Collection, 1950–1961. University of Southern California Libraries. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- Vickers, Graham (2008). Chasing Lolita: How Popular Culture Corrupted Nabokov's Little Girl All Over Again. Chicago Review Press. p. 111. ISBN 9781556529689.
- Denver, Bob (1993). Gilligan, Maynard & Me. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press. pp. 9–45. ISBN 978-0806514130.
- "The Five Pennies". Golden Globe Award. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- Keogh, Pamela Clarke (2008). Elvis Presley: The Man, the Life, the Legend. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 153. ISBN 0743486137. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
- Jordan, Louis (20 September 2011). "The Real Tuesday Weld". Slant Magazine.
- "Tuesday Weld Gets Divorce". The New York Times. February 19, 1971.
- Kelly, Christina (October 26, 2011). "Matthew Sweet Looks Back on 20 Years of 'Girlfriend'". Spin. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
- Egan, Walter (1980). The Last Stroll. Columbia Records.
- Swan Dive: Swan Dive (CD). Compass Records. 2000.
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