Was Margaret Sullavan any nuttier than the rest of us? There are definitely Mommy Dearest moments. Sullavan and her eldest daughter would battle frequently. Sullavan never raised her voice, but instead gave Brooke the silent treatment, not speaking to her, sometime for days, until she got what she considered a proper apology. When Brooke's sister Bridget turned up her nose at her breakfast of runny eggs, the nanny wouldn't let her leave the table until she finished them. The horrible eggs dried up and became progressively more disgusting as the day wore on, but the child sat at the table, silent, until the nanny finally gave up and sent her to bed without eating anything that day.
Brooke may not have completely succeeded in telling her brother's and sister's stories. They still seem pale shadows compared to Sullavan and Hayward and herself. But Haywire is a heartbreaking and fascinating read. It raises so many questions about the neuroses of actors and the incestuous careers and love lives of everyone in Hollywood. Brooke's great friendship with the Fonda children — Jane and Peter — did they stay friends as they grew older? Did she ever speak to them about their own mother's suicide? One would think they might have tried to puzzle out their individual tragedies together. What about Brooke's life with Dennis Hopper (they were married 1961-9)? And her own children? They are briefly mentioned as having existed, and then nothing more. What about Bill's children? I wish she would write another book, about her life post-Haywire. I'm sure it would be a good read, too.
Life at home with the Haywards: Leland, Brooke, Bridget and Margaret Sullavan (in an apron!)