Margaret Sullavan Lived in Fear of Her Deafness, Then Met a Tragic End

Margaret Sullavan was an American stage and film actress known for her emotional performances in dramas and romantic comedies. She appeared in over 16 films in the 1930s and 40s, earning critical acclaim for her work in films like “The Shop Around the Corner” and “Three Comrades.” However, despite her success, Sullavan struggled with personal demons, including a fear of her own deafness.

Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1909, Sullavan was raised in a wealthy family and attended private schools throughout her childhood. She showed an early interest in the arts and began studying drama in New York City in the late 1920s. She quickly found success on Broadway, earning critical acclaim for her performances in plays like “A Modern Virgin” and “Dodsworth.”

In 1933, Sullavan made her film debut in “Only Yesterday,” a romantic drama about a woman who falls in love with her husband’s best friend. The film was a critical success, and Sullavan’s sensitive portrayal of a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage earned her praise from audiences and critics alike.

Over the next several years, Sullavan continued to work in Hollywood, appearing in films like “Little Man, What Now?” and “The Good Fairy.” She was known for her emotional performances and her ability to bring depth and complexity to her characters.

Despite her success, Sullavan struggled with a fear of deafness that had plagued her since childhood. She had a hearing impairment in one ear, and as a result, she was always worried that she would lose her hearing completely. This fear affected her personal life and her work, and she often struggled with anxiety and depression as a result.

In 1936, Sullavan married the actor Henry Fonda, and the couple had two children together. However, their marriage was troubled, and they divorced in 1939. Sullavan went on to marry and divorce two more times before her death.

In the early 1940s, Sullavan’s career began to decline, and she struggled to find work in Hollywood. She returned to the stage, appearing in several successful productions on Broadway. However, her personal demons continued to haunt her, and she became increasingly isolated and reclusive.

On January 1, 1960, Sullavan was found dead in her Connecticut home. She had died of an overdose of barbiturates, and her death was ruled a suicide. She was 50 years old.

Sullavan’s death was a tragic end to a troubled life. Despite her success and her talent as an actress, she never fully escaped the fear and anxiety that had plagued her since childhood. However, her performances on stage and screen continue to be celebrated by audiences and critics, and she remains a beloved figure in the history of American cinema.

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