Leland Hayward (September 13, 1902 – March 18, 1971) was a Hollywood and Broadway agent and theatrical producer. He produced the original Broadway stage productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific and The Sound of Music.
Life and career
Hayward was born in Nebraska City, Nebraska, the grandson of Monroe Leland Hayward, a senator from Nebraska. His father, Colonel William Hayward, was a celebrated hero of the First World War who commanded the 369th Infantry Regiment, the "Harlem Hellfighters". Hayward's father and mother, Sarah Coe Ireland, divorced when he was nine. Hayward's father subsequently remarried, to Maisie Manwaring Plant, one of the wealthiest women in America at the time, who later traded her Fifth Avenue mansion to Cartier for a perfectly matched strand of pearls.
Hayward attended The Hotchkiss School and then studied at Princeton University, but dropped out. He took on a number of jobs including newspaper reporter and press agent, but eventually became a talent agent in Hollywood. In the early 1940s, he handled about 150 artists, including Fred Astaire who had been his first client, James Stewart, Ernest Hemingway, Boris Karloff, Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, as well as the two former husbands of wife Margaret Sullavan, Henry Fonda and William Wyler. He dated some of his female clients, including Greta Garbo and Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn refused to marry him, despite a three-year relationship, because she was too focused on her career.
In 1945, Hayward sold his talent agency and became a producer. His 1949 production of South Pacific was a great success. He produced both the 1948 play Mister Roberts and the 1955 film version.
Other noteworthy film productions included The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), and The Old Man and the Sea (1958). He was a co-producer (with David Merrick) of the 1959 show Gypsy. His biggest success, however, was The Sound of Music that opened the same year.
Hayward's forays into television were similarly notable. He produced The Ford 50th Anniversary Show on June 15, 1953, a live two-hour simulcast on CBS and NBC that looked back on the history of the United States and the world up to 1953. The program featuring a memorable extended duet by Ethel Merman and Mary Martin. In 1953, Hayward conceived Producers' Showcase (1954–1956), a series of 90-minute color spectaculars to be broadcast monthly on NBC. Illness forced Hayward to withdraw from the project shortly before the first broadcast, and production was assumed by his attorneys, Saul and Henry Jaffe. Hayward later produced That Was The Week That Was, a groundbreaking American adaptation of a British television show, from 1963–1965.
Hayward's interest in aviation led to his co-founding, in 1941, Southwest Airways, with financial help from his Hollywood friends.
After suffering several strokes, Hayward died at his home, Haywire, in Yorktown Heights, New York, on March 18, 1971.
Marriages and family
Hayward was married five times.
In 1921 he married the debutante Lola Gibbs. They divorced one year later, remarried and divorced again in 1934.
Hayward married stage and screen actress Margaret Sullavan, formerly married to Henry Fonda, in 1936. They had three children: Brooke, born July 5, 1937, who was married to actor Dennis Hopper from 1961–69; Bridget (1939–1960), who committed suicide by overdose in October 1960, less than a year after her mother's death by overdose; and William, born 1941, who committed suicide March 20, 2008, by shooting himself in the heart. The family's dysfunctional life had been memorialized in daughter Brooke's memoir, Haywire.
Hayward's grandchildren include Marin Hopper, Brooke Hayward's daughter by actor/director Dennis Hopper; William and Jeffrey Thomas, from Brooke Hayward's first marriage to writer Michael Thomas; and Leland William Hayward and Bridget Pamela Hayward, William Hayward's children from his marriage to Rita Marie Rosate.
His great-grandchildren include William Leland Hayward V, Amelia James Hayward, Anna and Cooper Thomas, Violet Hayward Goldstone, Jack Munn, Cooper Hayward, and Ryan Hayward.
In 1938, Hayward met Slim Hawks, then wife of film director Howard Hawks. Hayward's marriage to Sullavan came to an end in 1946, and he married Slim Hawks three years later. Their marriage became strained after Slim had a one-night stand with Frank Sinatra and a longer affair with Peter Viertel.
In 1958 Hayward was introduced to Pamela Churchill, the mistress of Elie de Rothschild. He proposed to her the following year. On May 4, 1960, hours after his divorce from Hawks was final, Hayward married Pamela Churchill in Carson City, Nevada.