Classic Movie Hub (CMH)


Sterling Hayden

Sterling Hayden

Bought a canal barge in the Netherlands and moved it to Paris to live on it part of the time (1969).

Dropped out of high school at the age of 15 and became a sailor, earning his master's license by the age of 21.

Had four children with Betty Ann de Noon. The couple married and divorced three times and went through a nasty custody battle.

Had six children: Christian, Dana, Gretchen and Matthew with Betty Ann de Noon; Andrew and David with Catherine Devine McConnell.

He was the original choice to play the knife thrower Britt in The Magnificent Seven (1960). The part went to James Coburn when Hayden proved unavailable.



In 1941, Paramount studios started advertising him as "The Most Beautiful Man in the Movies!"

In 1980, the perpetually hard-up-for-cash Hayden was cast in the film Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981) at a salary of $250,000 ($50,00 per week for five weeks), but broke his contract to go to Yugoslavia to cover the death of Josip Broz Tito for "Rolling Stone" magazine on spec, with no money up front. He told Tom Snyder in a 1981 interview on "Tomorrow Coast to Coast" (1973) that he never did finish the article.

In his childhood, he lived in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and Maine.

Was first choice of producers Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown to play the role of Quint in Jaws (1975), but Hayden's tax problems with the US government--he lived outside the country and if he entered the US he would have been arrested--precluded his taking the role.

When the US entered World War II, Hayden changed his name to John Hamilton to obscure his Hollywood past, and joined the Office of Strategic Services--the predecessor of the CIA--headed by Col. "Wild Bill" Donovan, whose son Hayden had sailed with. Trained in guerrilla warfare, Hayden operated a fishing boat off of Yugoslavia to pick up downed Allied pilots and to supply Josip Broz Tito's Communist partisans. He won a Silver Star and a promotion to captain by the time he was discharged in 1945. He had also become enthusiastic about Communism, and joined the Communist Party after he returned to Hollywood. According to Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley's book "Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s", he was recruited by actress Karen Morley, who was a party activist, and screenwriter and future director Abraham Polonsky assigned him to a group of backlot workers to learn union militancy. He and others like him were, according to Billingsley, tasked with swinging the Screen Writers Guild to the supposedly Communist-controlled Conference of Studio Unions, which launched a strike against the studios in 1946-47. Communist Party membership was secret, and they were to keep their identitie


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