Actress/model Susan Blakely, the daughter of a U.S. Army colonel, was born in Germany and raised in ports of call ranging from Korea to Hawaii to Texas. After a year at the University of Texas, Blakely struck out for New York, where she studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse while pursuing a modeling career. By 1972, she was pulling down 100,000 dollars a year for her appearances on magazine covers and TV advertisements; she also began showing up in bit parts in films like Savages (1972) and The Way We Were (1973). Larger roles came her way in The Lords of Flatbush (1974), Report to the Commissioner (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), and Shampoo (1975). It was a television production that brought her full-fledged stardom: in 1977, Blakely appeared as Julie Prescott in the ratings-busting miniseries Rich Man Poor Man. She continued to flourish in TV movies into the 1990s, sinking her dazzling teeth into such meaty roles as Eva Braun in The Bunker (1981), Frances Farmer in Will There Really Be a Morning? (1982), and attorney Leslie Abramson in Honor Thy Father and Mother: The True Story of the Menendez Brothers (1994). Susan Blakely has been married to screenwriter Todd Merer and producer Steve Jaffe.
photo credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
by Hal Erickson biography