Tuesday Weld Undressed
Tuesday Weld (born August 27, 1943) is an Emmy- and Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe-winning American film and television actress. Weld was born Susan Ker Weld in New York City. Her father, Lathrop Motley Weld, was a member of the Weld Family of Massachusetts; he died in 1947, shortly before her fourth birthday. Her mother was Weld's fourth and final wife, the former Yosene Balfour Ker, the daughter of the artist and Life illustrator William Balfour Ker.
Left in straitened financial circumstances by her husband's death, Weld's mother put her to work as a child model to support the family. As the young actress told Life in 1971, "My father’s family came from Tuxedo Park, and they offered to take us kids and pay for our education, on the condition that Mama never see us again. Mama was an orphan who had come here from London, but so far as my father’s family was concerned, she was strictly from the gutter. I have to give Mama credit –- she refused to give us up." As Weld explained, "So I became the supporter of the family, and I had to take my father’s place in many, many ways. I was expected to make up for everything that had ever gone wrong in Mama’s life. She became obsessed with me, pouring out her pent-up love –- her alleged love –- on me, and it’s been heavy on my shoulders ever since. To this day, Mama thinks I owe everything to her."
Using Weld's résumé from modelling, her mother secured an agent and Tuesday (an extension of her childhood nickname, "Tu-Tu") Weld made her acting debut on television at age twelve and her feature film debut the same year in a bit role in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock crime drama, The Wrong Man. The pressures of her career, however, resulted in a nervous breakdown at age nine, alcoholism by age 12, and a suicide attempt around the same time.
In 1956, 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. In the film, Connie Francis performed the vocals for Weld's singing parts. In 1959, still only sixteen years old, she was given the role of Thalia Menninger in the CBS television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Although Weld was a cast member for only a single 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. Only a year later, in 1960, she appeared as Joy, a free-spirited university student in High Time, a collegian comedy starring Bing Crosby and Fabian.
In 1961, after starring opposite Elvis Presley in Wild in the Country, the two had an off-screen romance. However, in Hollywood, her reputation for recklessness was fodder for pulp magazines and the more malignant gossip columnists of the day. Weld's mother was scandalized as well by her teenage daughter's affairs with much-older actors, but Weld resisted, saying, "'If you don’t leave me alone, I’ll quit being an actress –- which means there ain’t gonna be no more money for you, Mama.’ Finally, when I was sixteen, I left home. I just went out the door and bought my own house." A busy year for Weld, she also appeared in the sequel to the 1956 film Peyton Place. From the sequel novel of the same name Return to Peyton Place Weld was well received as the tortured incest victim Selina Cross. As the pretty girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Weld portrayed the role previously played in the original film by Hope Lange. Although not considered a flop, Return to Peyton Place was not as successful at the box office as the original film version of the best-selling and controversial novel by Grace Metalious.
Weld appeared with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen in the 1963 comedy/drama Soldier in the Rain; her performance was well received, but the film was only a minor success. Later in her career, she turned down roles in films that became great successes, such as Bonnie and Clyde, Rosemary's Baby, True Grit, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
In 1965, she appeared in the successful Norman Jewison film The Cincinnati Kid, opposite Steve McQueen. Some of her most notable screen performances include Pretty Poison (1968), co-starring Anthony Perkins and Beverly Garland; A Safe Place (1971), co-starring Jack Nicholson and Orson Welles; I Walk the Line (1971), opposite Gregory Peck; and Play It As It Lays (1972), again with Perkins, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
In her thirties, Weld gave memorable performances in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress; Who'll Stop the Rain (1978) opposite Nick Nolte; and Michael Mann's acclaimed 1981 film Thief, opposite James Caan. In 1984, she appeared in Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America, which included a brutal rape scene with her and Robert De Niro. The scene was the source of some controversy, as Weld's character, a masochistic prostitute, is depicted as eventually enjoying the rape. Weld has also appeared in a number of made-for-television movies, including Reflections of Murder (1987) and A Question of Guilt, in which she plays a woman accused of murdering her children. In 1993, Weld played a police officer's neurotic wife in Falling Down.
Weld continues to make occasional appearances in film and television.
Photographs of the young Weld have been featured on the covers of two Matthew Sweet albums, Girlfriend (1991) and Time Capsule: Best of 90/00 (2000). Singer Donald Fagen describes a fictional blonde woman as having "a touch of Tuesday Weld" in the song "New Frontier," on his 1982 album The Nightfly.
Because he had always had a bit of a crush on her, when Tiny Tim recorded George M. Cohan's song "Then I'd be Satisfied with Life" (on his 1968 album God Bless Tiny Tim), he changed the line "If Hetty Green would only be my wife" to "If Tuesday Weld would only be my wife"