Cinema’s Forgotten Legends Series: Margaret Sullavan

16Awhile back, I’ve wanted to post a series of my own so instead of posting my usual biographical article for a certain individual, I’ve decided to make it more cinematically exciting by submitting a tribute passionately dedicated to the cinematic artists-both actors/actresses-that not too many were familiar with but with who made an indelible impression to the classic film lovers who’ve watched their films from beginning to end. These individuals needed to be commemorated more often because even though some may have been highly underrated, their classic films have left a lasting cinematic imprint in our hearts and souls via the classic film world & Turner Classic Movies. I’m unsure how long my series will last (because there’s so many that truly deserves the respect, appreciation, love, devotion and picturesque accolades that they’ve given over the years) but rest assured, I intend to post a tribute every day and will devote exclusive time and effort in order to see to it that they will always have a place not only in the treasure trove classic film gems of Hollywood’s Golden Age but also into the hearts of classic movie lovers everywhere. The one individual with whom I’m paying my highest cinematic respects to is someone whom although led a troubled and tragic life, her impact in classic films left a profound picturesque influence in my life and one with whom I have the greatest appreciation, respect, love and cinematic devotion for: the emblematic American stage/film actress Margaret Brooke Sullavan (May 16th, 1909-January 1st, 1960)

Margaret Sullavan, 1940
Actress Margaret Sullavan in 1940

Even though she was only able to make 16 films in her more than 30 year film career, those who were fortunate in watching her classic films know just how much her screen presence meant to them; I’ve viewed only a handful of her compelling yet poignant films like 1940s The Mortal Storm with James Stewart, Robert Stack , Robert Young and Frank Morgan, The Shop Around the Corner (that same year of 1940) starring James Stewart, Frank Morgan & Joseph Schildkraut, Three Comrades (1938) with Robert Taylor, The Shining Hour (also from 1938) with Joan Crawford and Melvyn Douglas, Back Street (1941) co-starring one of her favorite actors Charles Boyer , The Shopworn Angel (1938) with Walter Pidgeon and finally her penultimate classic Cry Havoc (1943) with Ann Sothern, Fay Bainter, Marsha Hunt, Ella Raines & Heather Angel. It’s interesting to point out that even though these 3 films (The Mortal Storm, The Shopworn Angel and The Shop Around the Corner) were the only ones that I was able to see in the highest regards to the awe-inspiring, magnetic and cinematic intensity of the Stewart & Sullavan collaboration, their unique chemistry on screen ignited the deeply picturesque influence and cinematic merits from their performances on the silver screenBeFunky Collage film

It deeply saddens me in regards to her tragically short career in Hollywood (her untimely passing at the age of 50 on January 1st, 1960 from an accidental overdose) but I know that I will always remember Margaret Sullavan for the memorable characterizations that she’s selflessly and masterfully displayed onscreen. Despite many trials and tribulations that Sullavan’s endured over the years (from her 3 unsuccessful marriages to her congenital hearing defect otosclerosis that she suffered most of her life–ironically enough, that same condition helped produced the signature cinematic throatiness that became the essence of her vocal capabilities via acting because she could hear low tones better than high ones), she became a wonderful and immensely talented actress who was also nominated for the Academy Award as Best Actress for her role as Patricia “Pat” Hollmann in the film Three Comrades (1938) with Robert Young, Robert Taylor and Franchot Tone10

She would lose the Oscar to Bette Davis for her performance as Julie Marsden in Jezebel at the 11th Annual Academy Awards held on February 23rd, 1939. But despite not winning the coveted golden statuette, to me she received a higher accolade in regards to her role in classic films; even today so many classic film lovers have watched her onscreen over the years via Turner Classic Movies and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to view her magnificent performance in 3 of her films. I definitely need to see more of Ms. Sullavan’s films because I think that she’s a classic film artist worth watching over and over again; even though it’s been over 50 years since her death, I could never forget just how much Margaret Sullavan’s film work/livelihood has meant so much to me. I could also never get enough of her infectious laughter, her warm bright and affectionate smile, the way her big, bright and captivating eyes luminated the silver screen, her charming benevolent persona capturing the hearts of classic movie fans with sheer ingenuity and picturesque brilliance–such wondrous qualities in a deeply compassionate, empathetic, humbled, idealistic and affable human being is just some of the many reasons why I continue to respect Margaret Sullavan so much, and why I absolutely enjoy doing what I do best: sharing a selfless love and bountiful appreciation for classic films/its stars with countless others. Margaret Sullavan was a true cinematic gift to the classic film world and though we lost her much too soon, her venerated memory through the golden recollections of her classic films will live on in the heart, mind, body and soul of every classic film lover who’ve ardently appreciated her cinematic, graceful and profoundly gratifying appearance on stage and the silver screen.14179564321


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