Welcome to Show Business! #17

Original Caption:

Hollywood -- Hospital attendants are shown as they transfer actress Susan Hayward from the Hollywood Receiving Hospital to Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. Miss Hayward was a victim of an apparent overdose of sleeping pills, April 26. (1955)


C.K. Dexter Haven said...

I hate to see my heroes laid low, but take comfort knowing it would take the equivalent of an atomic explosion to finally take out Susan Hayward...

BTW, who was the genius who scouted the locations for "The Conqueror", anyway?

Tommy O'C said...

I doubt that anyone signed on to contract terminal cancer. The carcinogenic effects of exposure to radiation were not widely known back then, so it's really not a matter of IQ, just a misinformed public.

Even today, there is controversy over the incubation period for cancer as a result of exposure to radioactive fallout. Also, the location was 137 miles away but allegedly "downwind" of the blast site.

There is inconclusive anecdotal evidence (also disputed) that fallout from the blasts over the years of above-ground testing in the Nevada desert may have traveled hundreds of miles on the wind, causing cancer in humans and cattle. Me, I wouldn't want to go within a thousand miles of such a test and not without an oxygen mask (radioactive isotopes can be unknowingly inhaled, where they remain in the lungs permanently).

There are those who dispute the connection between the high incidence of cancer among the cast of "The Conquerer" (less is known about the crew and the approximately 200 Native American extras). I am not one of them. The only real "evidence" of a link is the disturbingly high incidence in this case, although the doubters would call this a statistical anomaly and/or point out that many of the cast who died from cancer were also heavy, lifelong smokers (e.g., Dick Powell, John Wayne, Agnes Moorehead).

It was known that radioactivity was present during filming. John Wayne is allegedly holding a Geiger counter in at least one photo at the time. (Was this a publicity stunt?)

I think the concern was to not be exposed to such high levels of radiation that one would die of radiocative poisoning. Beyond that, the long-term effects were dimly understood. You can be sure that the government knew the terrible truth long before scientists began alerting the public.

It was Howard Hughes' film, so maybe you could start with him. And it was Hughes who paid to have
60 tons of radioactive dirt sent to Hollywood so that studio retakes would match the desert exteriors.

BTW, it's said that the testing was moved below-ground during the sixties because of Hughes. He complained personally to LBJ because the shock waves from the blasts annoyed him. Hughes had so much clout that he got his way.

swac said...

Good thing the Duke got a check-up.