Leaving her politics aside for the time being, Susan Sarandon has had and looks like she will continue to have quite the successful acting career. It didn’t start out that way though…

The Early Years

Susan Abigail Tomalin was born on October 4th, 1946 in the Jackson Height neighborhood in Queens, New York as the eldest of 9 children. The family re-located to Edison, New Jersey where she spent the better part of her youth. Her parents were strict Catholics (as evidenced by the 9 kids!) and she was the recipient of a Roman Catholic education administered by nuns. She often got into trouble with her teachers for questioning their religious doctrines and was considered “disruptive”. She went on to high-school and perhaps as a portend of things to come, was arrested on a couple of occasions for protesting on behalf of civil rights and against the Vietnam War.

From there it was on to college, Catholic University in Washington, DC where she pursued drama, English, philosophy and believe it or not, military strategy. While in college she helped to pay her tuition by working as a secretary, doing some house cleaning, and taking a stab at modeling. Ironically, she once appeared in a brochure that spouted the amenities of the Watergate Hotel. She eventually graduated with a degree in drama.

It was while attending Catholic University that she met her first husband, an aspiring actor by the name of Chris Sarandon and after living together for a couple of years, eventually married him in 1967.

A Simple Twist of Fate?

After graduating college in 1968, Sarandon found some work in modeling and her husband appeared in some of the local theaters surrounding Washington DC. This lasted a couple of years until 1970 when fate intervened. It seems that her husband went off to New York City to read for a part in the film “Joe”. She decided to accompany him on the trip and went to his audition mainly to provide him some moral support. Although she had no intentions of becoming an actress, the director of the film, John Avildsen, took one look and hired her on the spot.

After that, she went on to make a couple of pretty nondescript films but gained some sort of recognition for her work on a couple of soap operas, As The World Turns and Search for Tomorrow. Her “big break” came when she was contacted by Sidney Lumet to appear ina film called Lovin’ Molly and she followed that up with an appearance in Billy Wilder’s The Front Page opposite Jack Lemmon. She continued working in mainstream films and wound up being side cast as Robert Redford’s side kick in The Great Waldo Pepper

How’s About a Change of Pace?

In a bold career move, Susan took the advice of her friend, Tim Curry and appeared in the classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Although she was paid next to nothing for her appearance, it marked the first time she had to sing in a movie and provided her with the confidence to take on more challenging roles. Although the movie was initially a box-office flop, I think we all know by now what status it has attained.

Her career, if you can call it that, took somewhat of a downhill spiral and she made some some films such as The Other Side of Midnight and Dragonfly that were absolutely blasted by the critics.

Things Start Looking Up

Her luck sorta changed when she caught a break and was cast in a couple of Louis Malle’s movies such as Pretty Baby where she played the mother of a prostitute. It was the next Malle film, Atlantic City that earned her a first Academy Award nomination for her portrayal as a clam bar waitress. It was during this time that she divorced her husband Chris and began dating Malle.

Following the critical success of Atlantic City, she decided to try her hand at comedy and appeared in a somewhat offbeat stage production called A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking. She wound up dumping Malle and briefly dated the much younger Sean Penn for a spell.

Her next role of note was that of a bisexual vampire’s lover in The Hunger opposite Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie. From there it was on to the star studded cast of The Witches of Eastwick with such heavyweights as Cher, Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer. Originally cast with the meatier role of Alex, she was sorta snubbed when a last minute casting decision gave the role to Cher. She wound up playing Jane, the somewhat doughty cello player. She would later remark about the Hollywood mentality that “A promise is not a promise, a person’s word is not a person’s word.”

True Love Comes A’ Callin’

Her next notable role came in one of my favorite movies, Bull Durham, where she played Annie Savoy, a somewhat flaky woman who had a penchant for minor league baseball players. It was during the filming that she met and became “involved” with co-star Tim Robbins who was twelve years her junior. Much to the surprise of the movie industry, they have been “involved” ever since and are the parents of two children. They remain active in social causes on a regular basis.

Some Much Deserved Recognition

She won another Oscar nomination in 1991 for playing the waitress turned convict in Thelma and Louise opposite Geena Davis 1992 saw yet another nomination for her role in Lorenzo’s Oil opposite Nick Nolte. I guess the fourth time was a charm because her next role, that of Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking landed her an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Say What?

If you want a glimpse into what makes Susan Sarandon so appealing (at least to me), here’s a couple of quotes that might do the trick.

On Men: "It took me a while to understand that I didn't have to mother every guy I was with."

On Herself: "I'm somewhere between a chick and a broad.” (My favorite!)

On Love: "It's a risk. And It doesn't conquer all - an incredibly upsetting lesson."

On Politics: "Politics is just showbiz. It has always been the job of the artist to challenge the status quo."

On Children: "The biggest disservice you can do your kids is to give up who you are to raise them."

Last But Not Least


The Banger Sisters (2002)
Moonlight Mile (2002)
Igby Goes Down (2002)
Cats & Dogs (2001)
Time of Our Lives (2000)
Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000)
Light Keeps Me Company (2000)
Joe Gould's Secret (2000)
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Our Friend, Martin (1999)
) Anywhere But Here (1999)
Twilight (1998)
The Magic Hour (1997)
Stepmom (1997)
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
The Celluloid Closet (1995)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
The Client (1994)
Little Women (1994)
Safe Passage (1994)
Bob Roberts (1992)
Lorenzo's Oil (1992)
The Player (1992)
Light Sleeper (1992)
Thelma and Louise (1991)
White Palace (1991)
A Dry White Season (1989)
Erik the Viking (1989)
The January Man (1989)
Bull Durham (1988)
Sweet Heart's Dance (1988)
Cop (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Compromising Positions (1985)
The Buddy System (1984)
The Hunger (1983)
Tempest (1982)
Loving Couples (1980)
Atlantic City (1980)
Something Short of Paradise (1979)
King of the Gypsies (1978)
Pretty Baby (1978)
Checkered Flag or Crash (1977)
The Other Side of Midnight (1977)
The Great Smokey Roadblock (1976)
One Summer Love (1976)
The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Front Page (1974)
Lovin' Molly (1974)
Lady Liberty (1972)
The Apprentice (1971)
Joe (1970)


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