Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born Susan Ker Weld in New York City, her father died when she was a child of three and her widowed mother and two siblings were left in difficult financial circumstances. Weld's mother took advantage of her beauty and found work for her as a child model that provided income to help sustain the family.
Using her resumé from modelling, her mother got her an agent and Tuesday Weld made her acting debut on television at age 12 and her motion picture debut at the age of 13 in a bit role in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock crime drama, The Wrong Man. That same year, Weld got the lead in a film celebrating the advent of Rock and Roll called Rock, Rock, Rock that featured record promoter Alan Freed and singers Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon, and Johnny Burnette, plus others. In the film, Connie Francis did the vocals for Weld's singing parts. In 1959, still only sixteen years old, she was given a role in the CBS television show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Although Weld was only a cast member for a season, the show gave her considerable national publicity and she was named a co-winner of a "Most Promising Newcomer" award at the Golden Globe Awards.
Unfortunately, despite her talent, beauty, and early success, Tuesday Weld is frequently described as the poster-girl for self-destruction. The product of a dysfunctional family, she was a very troubled girl who, at age nine, suffered a nervous breakdown. Without parental guidance from a mother with whom she would have a lifelong strained relationship, by age ten she had begun smoking cigarettes and using alcohol. Physically, she appeared well beyond her twelve years and at that age had already began dating older boys, losing her virginity in a hapless relationship that, combined with her other problems, led to a suicide attempt. Added to her problem in a business where looks are everything, she had to deal with a weight problem throughout most of her life. In addition, Weld was known for being very shocking and abrasive in public. For example, Weld would often go barefooted or even naked.
In 1961, after starring opposite Elvis Presley in Wild in the Country, the two began an off-screen romance. However, in Hollywood, her reputation for a reckless lifestyle was fodder for the gossip columnists and Louella Parsons reportedly said, as politely as possible, that "Miss Weld is not a very good representative for the motion picture industry." The romance with Elvis did not last long after Colonel Tom Parker cautioned Presley against the relationship, fearful it would harm his image.
Tuesday Weld appeared with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen in the 1963 comedy/drama, Soldier in the Rain and although her performance was well received, the film was only a minor success. Although frequently typecast as the "blonde in the tight sweater," both the critics and working members of the film industry acknowledged her talent. However, Weld never achieved the level of stardom many thought her looks and talent could bring. In part, her lack of great success was as a result of her turning down roles in films that were great successes and that made mega-stars out of others such as Lolita, Bonnie and Clyde,True Grit, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Although Weld had the final say in such matters, many question the quality of advice her agent was providing. Actor Roddy McDowall, who co-starred with her in a 1966 film, said: "no actress was ever so good in so many bad films."
Weld married screenwriter Claude Harz in 1965, the same year she appeared in the successful Norman Jewison film, The Cincinatti Kid . Although a box-office success, Weld nevertheless had to share the spotlight with actress Ann-Margret. In her thirties, she began acting in a number of made-for-television films but for her big screen role in Play It As It Lays , she was nominated for a 1973 Golden Globe. After divorcing her first husband with whom she had had a daughter, in 1975 she married famed British comedian/actor Dudley Moore, giving birth to their son the following year. In 1977, she gave a strong performance in Looking for Mr. Goodbar that earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In 1981, Ms. Weld co-starred with James Caan in Michael Mann's acclaimed film noir classic Thief. The following year she played a comic role in Author! Author! with Al Pacino. She also won acclaim for her supporting role in Sergio Leone's 1984 film Once Upon a Time in America.
Tuesday Weld continues to makes occasional appearances in film or television.
- The Wrong Man (1956)
- Rock, Rock, Rock (1956)
- Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958)
- The Five Pennies (1959)
- Because They're Young (1960)
- Sex Kittens Go to College (1960)
- High Time (1960)
- The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960)
- Return to Peyton Place (1961)
- Wild in the Country (1961)
- Bachelor Flat (1962)
- Soldier in the Rain (1963)
- I'll Take Sweden (1965)
- The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
- Lord Love a Duck (1966)
- Pretty Poison (1968)
- I Walk the Line (1970)
- A Safe Place (1971)
- Play It As It Lays (1972)
- Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)
- Who'll Stop the Rain (1978)
- Serial (1980)
- Thief (1981)
- Author! Author! (1982)
- Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
- Heartbreak Hotel (1988)
- Falling Down (1993)
- Feeling Minnesota (1996)
- Investigating Sex (2001)
- Chelsea Walls (2001)
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