Who is Brooke Hayward?
Brooke Hayward is an American stage, film, and TV actor, who is also the author of the bestseller 'Haywire.' She began her acting career through theater and later made her transition to films and TV. However, Brooke did not have a prominent acting career even though she remained in the industry for several decades. She rose to prominence primarily because of her book, ‘Haywire,’ which is her childhood memoir. The bestselling book throws light on her family and her tumultuous life. Brooke had a disturbed childhood. She witnessed her parents' divorce. She also struggled with her mother's and siblings' mental issues and eventually had to face their deaths. Her married life, too, has been quite disturbed. She has had three failed marriages, which has only added to her miseries. Her book was later made into a TV movie. Several decades after ‘Haywire’ was published, Brooke started opening up about her turbulent marriage through articles and journals.
Childhood & Early Life
Brooke was born on July 5, 1937, in Los Angeles, to agent-turned-producer Leland Hayward and his actor wife, Margaret Sullavan. She had a younger sister named Bridget (born in 1939) and a brother named William "Bill" (born in 1941), who was a renowned producer and lawyer.
At the age of 7 years, Brooke and her family moved to a farm in Brookfield, Connecticut. Her parents got divorced in April 1948, after which her father married New York socialite and fashion icon Nancy "Slim" Hawks (or Slim Keith). In 1950, her mother married importer and producer Kenneth Wagg. Leland divorced Slim and got married for the third time, to political activist Pamela Harriman.
Brooke lost her mother to an accidental drug overdose on January 1, 1960. Nine months later, Bridget committed suicide by consuming drugs in her apartment in New York City. Brooke's brother, too, committed suicide, by gunshot on March 9, 2008.
Brooke is a 'Vassar College' graduate and had studied acting at the 'Actors Studio.'
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Brooke ventured into acting through theater. In May 1961, she made her ‘Broadway’ debut with a production of 'Mandingo.' Brooke was cast opposite Dennis Hopper, who later became her real-life husband.
That year, she simultaneously made her film debut with film producer and director Burt Balaban's biopic, 'Mad Dog Coll.' One of her first memorable TV performances was in a 1964 episode of the 'CBS' anthology 'Twilight Zone,' titled 'The Masks.'
Following this, Brooke was seen as a sea ship captain's daughter in an episode of the 'NBC' western 'Bonanza.' She remained in the industry for the next 30 years and delivered several remarkable performances.
In 1977, ‘Alfred A. Knopf’ published Brooke's book, 'Haywire.' The book offered a peek into her tormenting childhood days that were scarred by the mental breakdowns and deaths of her mother, sister, and brother. The book also spoke about her personal issues. The memoir was later made into a TV movie of the same name, which was broadcast on 'CBS' in 1980.
Brooke's brother, William Hayward, co-produced the film along with Anna Cottle. It featured Jason Robards as ‘Leland Hayward’ and Lee Remick as ‘Ms. Sullavan.’
Brooke's last film appearance was a cameo in the 1993 comedy 'Six Degrees of Separation,' an adaptation of John Guare's play of the same name.
Family & Personal Life
Brooke married Michael M Thomas in July 1956 and had two sons. They divorced in July 1960. Brooke then married actor Dennis Hopper in August 1961. She had met Hopper while studying at the 'Actors Studio.' The two had a daughter, Marin Brooke Hopper. Brooke and Hopper's marriage, too, ended in a divorce in 1969.
From 1963 to 1977, Brooke lived with Hopper and their children, at 1712 North Crescent Heights Boulevard. They had moved to Boulevard after they lost their house in the ‘Bel Air Fire.’ They lived in a little house on Stone Canyon Road, and the mishap had taken place within 2 weeks of their move to the house.
Brooke and Hopper’s Stone Canyon house was the first one on the street to burn in the fire. Following the tragic accident, the two were homeless for a long time. They first stayed with Vincent and Mary Price but were eventually asked to leave. Later, they went to David O Selznick and Jennifer Jones's house for help. They let them stay in their guesthouse.
In 1981, Brooke began a live-in relationship with pianist and society bandleader Peter Duchin. They got married in 1985 and separated in 2008. Their divorce was finalized in 2011. Brooke had also dated actor Warren Beatty.
Currently, Brooke lives alternatively in her loft in Manhattan and her country house in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
Monroe Hayward, former US senator from Nebraska, was Brooke's great-grandmother, while Colonel William Hayward, the leader of the ‘369th Infantry Regiment ‘(aka the "Harlem Hellfighters") during the First World War, was her grandfather. She is a descendant of the English ship ‘Mayflower's passenger William White and pilgrim Robert Coe.
Brooke's sister, Bridget, had left an "incoherent suicide note." Although the note was never made public, the death was ruled a suicide.
Brooke found out about her pregnancy the day after the ‘Bel Air Fire.’