Margaret Sullavan

A petite brunette with large eyes dominating her small, attractively angular face, Margaret Sullavan made her stage debut with the University Players (which included James Stewart and Henry Fonda) in Falmouth, MA, and ... Read more »
Born: 05/16/1911 in Norfolk, Virginia, USA


Actor (16)

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars 1951 - 1959 (TV Show)


No Sad Songs For Me 1950 (Movie)

Mary Scott (Actor)

Cry Havoc 1944 (Movie)


Back Street 1940 (Movie)


So Ends Our Night 1940 (Movie)

Ruth Holland (Actor)

The Shop Around the Corner 1939 (Movie)


Three Comrades 1937 (Movie)


Next Time We Love 1935 (Movie)


The Moon's Our Home 1935 (Movie)

Cherry Chester / Sarah Brown (Actor)

The Good Fairy 1934 (Movie)

Luisa Ginglebusher (Actor)

Little Man, What Now? 1933 (Movie)


Appointment for Love (Movie)

Jane Alexander (Actor)

Only Yesterday (Movie)

Mary Lane (Actor)

The Mortal Storm (Movie)

Freya Roth (Actor)

The Shining Hour (Movie)

Judy Linden (Actor)

The Shopworn Angel (Movie)

Daisy Heath (Actor)


A petite brunette with large eyes dominating her small, attractively angular face, Margaret Sullavan made her stage debut with the University Players (which included James Stewart and Henry Fonda) in Falmouth, MA, and entered films in 1933. With her husky voice and unique, magnetic charm Sullavan was an immediate success, proving herself airy and delightful in comedy ("The Good Fairy" 1935, "The Shop Around the Corner" 1939) and wistful and poignant in drama ("Only Yesterday", her 1933 debut; "Three Comrades" 1938). Her unstable temperament and her critical disdain for the Hollywood establishment, however, significantly reduced her screen output, facilitating her many returns to Broadway. She was married to Henry Fonda, William Wyler and producer-agent Leland Hayward. Sullavan suffered a number of mental health problems (including severe depression brought on partly by increasing deafness in middle age) and died of a drug overdose. A family memoir, "Haywire" (1977), was written by her daughter, Brooke Hayward.


Garland Sullavan


Henry Fonda Actor

Married Dec. 25, 1931 Divorced in 1932

Leland Hayward Actor

Third husband married on November 15, 1937 while he was her agent divorced in 1947

Bridget Hayward

born in 1939

Brooke Hayward

born in July 1937 penned memoir of her family and events leading to her mother's death, "Haywire"

William Hayward

born in 1941

Cornelius Sullavan


Kenneth Wagg

fourth husband married from 1950 until her death in 1960 British

William Wyler Actor

Second husband married on November 11, 1934 divorced on March 13, 1936


E E Clive's Copley Theatre Dramatic School

Boston , Massachusetts 1928

St George School

Norfolk , Virginia

Chatham Episcopal Institute

Chatham , Virginia

Denishawn School of Dance

Boston , Massachusetts
stayed only three weeks

Sullins College

Bristol , Virginia
dropped out to study dancing in Boston

Norfolk Tutoring School

Norfolk , Virginia



Was appearing in out-of-town tryout of "Sweet Love Remember'd" in New Haven when she was found dead of a drug overdose


Withdrew from hit comedy "Janus" for health reasons; disappeared on day scheduled to appear on TV in "The Pilot"; committed herself to a sanitarium for nervous exhaustion;


Returned to films after an absence of seven years in "No Sad Songs For Me"


Appeared on TV in first "Studio One" production


London stage debut, "The Voice of the Turtle"


On expiration of Universal contract, returned to Broadway in non-starring role in "Stage Door"


First Broadway success as replacement for Marguerite Churchill in "Dinner at Eight"; signed by Universal on her terms ($1,200 weekly, three years, nonexclusive and with approval rights)


Film debut, "Only Yesterday"


Broadway debut, "A Modern Virgin"


Made stage debut in summer touring production of Preston Sturges's "Strictly Dishonorable"


Returned to University Players


Rejoined University Players in Baltimore for stock season; co-starring with Henry Fonda


Joined the University Players, community theater at Falmouth, M assachusetts (summer)


Made social debut in Norfolk, Virginia (winter)

Worked at the Harvard Cooperative Bookstore (for ($18 a week) while at drama school

Bonus Trivia


"Acting in the movies is just like ditch-digging"--Margaret Sullavan


"I still hate making pictures! And I don't like Hollywood any better. I detest the limelight and love simplicity, and in Hollywood the only thing that matters is the hullabaloo of fame. If Hollywood will let me alone to find my way without forcing me and rushing me into things, I probably will change my feelings about it. But at present Hollywood seems utterly horrible and interfering and consuming. Which is why I want to leave it as soon as I am able."--Margaret Sullavan to "Photoplay" magazine after completing second film, "Little Man, What Now?" (1934)


"She was a willful, ambitious, feminine, honest, and warm actress whose talents were largely untapped by her second-rate tragic heroine screen assignments. She died from an overdose of sleeping pills when she could no longer cope with the almost total loss of her hearing". ("The MGM Stock Company")


"Eight days after her death it was revealed that she had been almost totally deaf, a disability she had been fighting since 1948". ("MGM Stock Company")