Susan Ker Weld
August 27, 1943
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Tuesday Weld (born Susan Ker Weld; August 27, 1943) is an American former actress. She began acting as 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.
Weld often portrayed impulsive and reckless women acting out sexually, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Play It as It Lays (1972), an 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 Manhattan on August 27, 1943. Her father was Lathrop Motley Weld, of the Weld family of Massachusetts. Her father died in 1947 at the age of 49, 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 last wife. Canadian-born William Balfour Ker had Scottish ancestry. His mother, Lily Florence Bell Ker, was first cousin of the inventor Alexander Graham Bell, and his father, William Ker, was a Scottish businessman and banker.
Left in financial difficulty by her husband's death, Weld's mother put Weld 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.
Her name became Tuesday, an extension of her childhood nickname, "Tu-Tu", so named by her young cousin, Mary Ker, who could not pronounce "Susan". She officially adopted her name in October 1959.
Weld's mother secured her an agent using her résumé from modeling. She 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.
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.
Weld was cast in a supporting role in the Paul Newman–Joanne Woodward comedy Rally Round the Flag, Boys! (1958), made by 20th Century Fox. At Paramount Pictures, Weld was in The Five Pennies (1959), playing the daughter of Danny Kaye, who called Weld "15 going on 27". She guest-starred a number of times on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1958–59). She appeared in 77 Sunset Strip with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., in the 1959 episode, "Secret Island".
20th Century Fox
Weld's performance in Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! impressed executives at Fox, who signed her to a long-term contract. They cast her in the CBS television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, with a salary of $35,000 for one year. Weld played 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.
At Columbia, she had a leading role in a teen film, Because They're Young (1960), starring Dick Clark. She was second billed in Sex Kittens Go to College (1960) made by Albert Zugsmith at Allied Artists. She made a second film for Zugsmith, The Private Lives of Adam and Eve, made in 1959 but not released for two years.
At Fox, she played 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. She guested in "The Mormons" for Zane Grey Theatre (1960).
For Fox, Weld had a supporting role in the sequel Return to Peyton Place (1961), in the part played by Hope Lange in the original. Her portrayal of an incest victim was well received, but the film was less successful than its predecessor. She supported Elvis Presley in Wild in the Country (1962), along with Lange. Weld had an off-screen romance with Presley.
Fox also used her as a guest star on Follow the Sun ("The Highest Wall") and Adventures in Paradise ("The Velvet Trap"). On November 12, 1961, she played a singer, Cherie, in the seventh episode of ABC's television series Bus Stop, produced by Fox, with Marilyn Maxwell and Gary Lockwood. It was an adaptation of the play by William Inge, with Weld in the role originated on screen by Marilyn Monroe.
Weld's mother was scandalized by her teen daughter's love 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".
Weld took three months off to go to Greenwich Village in New York and "study myself". Then she starred along with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen in Soldier in the Rain, written by Blake Edwards from a novel by William Goldman, but the film was only a minor success.
She won excellent reviews for a February 7, 1962, episode in the Naked City, "A Case Study of Two Savages", adapted from the real-life case of backwood killers Charles Starkweather (played by Rip Torn) and Ora Mae Youngham, (played by Weld), Starkweather's young bride, on a homicidal spree ending in New York City. She guest starred on Route 66 in "Love Is a Skinny Kid" (1962), Ben Casey in "When You See an Evil Man" (1962), The Dick Powell Theatre in "A Time to Die" (1962), and "Run Till It's Dark" with Fabian (1962).
In 1963 Weld guest-starred as Denise Dunlear in The Eleventh Hour, in the episode "Something Crazy's Going on in the Back Room" alongside Angela Lansbury. She was in "The Legend of Lylah Clare" for The DuPont Show of the Week (1963), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner.
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 as a troubled blind woman in "Dark Corner", an episode of The Fugitive.
Weld appeared in 1965 in the successful Norman Jewison film The Cincinnati Kid, opposite Steve McQueen. There was some controversy when she refused to meet the local governor at a fund-raiser for hurricane victims, jumping out of a car in view of 70,000 people. The film was a big hit.
She followed it playing Abigail in a TV adaptation of The Crucible (1967), opposite George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst. After guest starring on Cimarron Strip (1967), Weld had the starring role in Pretty Poison (1968), co-starring Anthony Perkins. The film became a cult success, but she disliked the film and did not get on with director Noel Black.
Around this time, Weld became famous for turning 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".
The films Weld did make included I Walk the Line (1970), opposite Gregory Peck; A Safe Place (1971), co-starring Jack Nicholson and Orson Welles and directed by Henry Jaglom, and Play It as It Lays (1972), again with Perkins, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
Peak years of success
Weld attracted attention as the favored, out-of-control Katherine in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) – packing into her short screen time an orgy, a divorce, a lot of alcohol, and two abortions – 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 the ensemble satire Serial (1980).
She said she preferred television. "What I dig about TV is the pace", she said. "Two weeks for even a heavy part – great. Too much thinking about a role is a disaster for me. I mean, let's do it, let's get it done."
She played the lead in the TV films A Question of Guilt (1978), in which she plays a woman accused of murdering her children, Mother and Daughter: The Loving War (1980), a remake of Madame X (1981), and a new version of The Rainmaker (1982).
In feature films, Weld had a good supporting role in Michael Mann's acclaimed 1981 film Thief, opposite James Caan. She played Al Pacino's wife in Author! Author! (1982) and co-starred with Donald Sutherland in the TV film The Winter of Our Discontent (1983). This performance earned her an Emmy nomination.
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. She later meets up with the gang from the robbery, and becomes the moll of James Woods' character Max Bercovicz. Disturbed by what she sees as Max's delusional, even suicidal, ambitions, she convinces Noodles to betray Max to the police. The performance earned Weld a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress of 1984.
Weld was reunited with Anthony Perkins in an episode of Mistress of Suspense (1990).
In 1993, she played a police officer's neurotic wife in Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall. She had small supporting roles in Feeling Minnesota (1996), Investigating Sex (2001), and Chelsea Walls (2001).
Weld has been married three times. She was married to screenwriter Claude Harz from October 23, 1965, until their divorce on February 18, 1971. They had a daughter, Natasha, born on August 26, 1966. Weld was awarded custody of Natasha in the divorce and $100 a month in child support payments.
She married British actor, musician and comedian Dudley Moore on September 20, 1975. On February 26, 1976, they had a son, Patrick. The couple divorced in 1980, with Weld receiving a $200,000 settlement plus $3,000 monthly alimony for the next 4 years and an additional $2,500 a month in child support.
On October 18, 1985, she married Israeli concert violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman, becoming stepmother to his daughters Arianna and Natalia. The couple divorced in 2001. In court papers, Zukerman quoted Weld as saying, "Why do I need to go to another concert when I've heard the piece before?" and "I can't stand the backstage scene. I don't want to hear another note."
Between marriages, Weld dated Al Pacino, David Steinberg, Mikhail Baryshnikov (whose previous girlfriend, Jessica Lange, had been Weld's best friend), Omar Sharif, Richard Gere and Ryan O'Neal.
Weld and then-husband Zukerman purchased 74 Surfside Ave in 1990 from the estate of Norman Kean, who produced the long-running Broadway show Oh! Calcutta! and who killed himself and his actress wife Gwyda Donhowe in their Manhattan apartment in 1988. Although the Montauk residence was not a crime scene, Weld later struggled to find a buyer for the property due to its murder-suicide connection. Listed in 2006, it sat on the market for three years before selling at a reduced price of $6.75 million in 2009 and is now rented. Weld bought a "tiny condo" there in 2021 for $335,000.
In popular culture
- The cover of Matthew Sweet's 1991 album Girlfriend features a photo of Weld. Originally called Nothing Lasts, the album was retitled after Weld objected. Weld is mentioned in the Donald Fagen song New Frontier on his album The Nightfly. Sweet's greatest hits compilation Time Capsule features photos of Weld on the front and back covers.
|1959||The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet||Connie/Cathy||3 episodes|
|The Red Skelton Hour||Starlet||Episode: "Appleby: The Big Producer"|
|77 Sunset Strip||Barrie Connell||Episode: "Secret Island"|
|1959-62||The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis||Thalia Menninger||Series regular (season 1)|
Guest star (seasons 3-4)
|1960||77 Sunset Strip||Kitten Lang||Episode: "Condor's Lair"|
|The Millionaire||Beth Boland||Episode: "Millionaire Katherine Boland"|
|The Tab Hunter Show||Ginny||Episode: "The Doll in the Bathtub"|
|Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre||Beth Lawson||Episode: "The Mormons"|
|1961||Follow the Sun||Barbara Beaumont||Episode: "The Highest Wall"|
|Bus Stop||Cherie||Episode: "Cherie"|
|1962||Adventures in Paradise||Gloria Dannora||Episode: "The Velvet Trap"|
|Naked City||Ora Mae Youngham||Episode: "A Case Study of Two Savages"|
|Route 66||Miriam Moore||Episode: "Love Is a Skinny Kid"|
|Ben Casey||Melanie Gardner||Episode: "When You See an Evil Man"|
|1964||Mr. Broadway||Emily||Episode: "An Eye on Emily"|
|The Fugitive||Mattie Braydon||Episode: "Dark Corner"|
|1967||The Crucible||Abigail Williams||Television film|
|1968||Cimarron Strip||Heller||Episode: "Heller"|
|1975||F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood||Zelda Fitzgerald||Television film|
|1978||A Question of Guilt||Doris Winters||Television film|
|1980||Mother and Daughter: The Loving War||Lillie Lloyd McCann||Television film|
|1981||Madame X||Holly Richardson||Television film|
|1982||The Rainmaker||Lizzie||Television film|
CableACE Award for Actress in a Theatrical or Non-Musical Program
|1983||The Winter of our Discontent||Margie Young-Hunt||Television film|
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
|1984||Scorned and Swindled||Sharon Clark||Television film|
|1986||Circle of Violence||Georgia Benfield||Television film|
|Something in Common||Shelly Grant||Television film|
|1990||Chillers||Jessica||Episode: "Something You Have to Live With"|
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