October 4, 1946- Susan Sarandon spent more than 2 decades in a relationship with fellow Oscar winner Tim Robbins & they have a couple of kids together, but they never got married.
“I always thought marriage contracts should be renewed every 5 years, so you get together & then there’s a no-guilt release clause after 5 years.”
Sarandon made her screen debut 45 years ago with Joe (1970). She starred on Broadway in her close friend Gore Vidal’s caustic comedy An Evening With Richard Nixon (1972) & appeared Off-Broadway in A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking (1979) & Extremities (1982) receiving Drama Desk Award nominations for each. She received 5 Best Actress Academy Award nominations: Atlantic City (1980), Thelma & Louise (1991), Lorenzo’s Oil (1992) & The Client (1994), winning for Dead Man Walking (1995). Sarandon has also won a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA Award, & 5 Emmy Award nominations. She dates much younger guys & currently runs a successful table tennis empire. That would exhaust anyone.
Unassuming when she is not working, my NYC friends report seeing her around her Greenwich Village neighborhood looking casual but pulled-together. Sarandon remains just gorgeous without looking like she has had a bunch of work done.
Sarandon has made a lot of very good films. Atlantic City is my own favorite performance, but there is Thelma & Louise, of course, plus The Witches Of Eastwick (1987) & Bull Durham (1998). She will always have a special place for her gay fans for her iconic Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) & for kissing Catherine Deneuve & David Bowie in The Hunger (1983).
Sarandon continued to get acting gigs when other female actors begin to bow out, working constantly in her 40s, 50s & now 60s. I appreciate that about her, but I also appreciate that she continues to have a commitment & a passion for politics ever since her Anti-Vietnam War activism in the early 1970s. While she was consciously coupled with Robbins, they made up the most visible liberal unit in showbiz. Since her 20s, Sarandon has possessed that social activist personality the sometimes acts against her own commercial interests.
“In those days, the media wasn’t so corporate, so you were seeing what was going on in the South with the hosing of black people, & you saw what was going on in Vietnam. If you had any moral fiber at all, you protested the war. It was just part of being young & being awake.”
Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin, the oldest of 9 kids from a great big working-class Italian family in New Jersey, attending Catholic schools. The Catholic University Of America in Washington DC, majoring in English, & started auditioning for plays, without any real hope of ever going pro. She married fellow student Chris Sarandon, Dog Day Afternoon (1975), The Princess Bride (1987), with the young couple moving to NYC at graduation. She got work almost immediately.
Sarandon has been in constant demand, especially interesting for an actor who was not a traditional Hollywood leading lady. She brings a delightful, off-kilter, bug-eyed intensity to all her roles. Her marriage to Mr. Sarandon ended in 1979 & she enjoyed some high-profile affairs including co-star Bowie & her Pretty Baby (1978) director Louis Malle, 3 decades her senior.
In her 20s, a doctor diagnosed Sarandon with Endometriosis & said it was impossible for her to have children. But, she had 3 children in her 40s, a daughter with an Italian filmmaker Franco Amurri who is 12 years younger & then 2 sons with Robbins, 13 years younger than Sarandon. Robbins & Sarandon called it quits in 2010.
Spin, her ping-pong business is doing very well, with new spots in Brooklyn, Toronto, LA, San Francisco, Chicago & Brussels, despite the fact that Sarandon claims to have no business savvy:
“I’m interested in the hospitality end & giving people a good time & coming up with good ideas. I know, for instance, that Goldie Hawn is really clever with money. I think Private Benjamin was one of the first really big deals, where she owned part of it. And she has houses everywhere. Diane Keaton too. Those gals are smart. One would never accuse me of being a shrewd business person.”
Sarandon’s activism is as much part of her image as her talent & beauty, & her politics attract as many people as it repels. Before the start of the Iraq War, Sarandon talked with other Hollywood liberals including friend George Clooney & Sean Penn, her old co-star from Dead Man Walking. Sarandon:
“We tried to be there for each other. It’s not so much that you’ll never work again. It’s really the shunning thing that’s the scariest. From your peers. But, the good news & bad news about Hollywood is that they’re not really political. They probably would punish you more for getting overweight or getting old.”
A longtime supporter of Gay Rights & Marriage Equality, Sarandon appeared in a video for the Human Rights Campaign:
“While marriage might not be my thing, if it’s your thing you damned well ought to be able to have it, equally & unequivocally. The America I want to live in celebrates diversity & believes in equal rights for all families no matter what they look like.”
“Anybody in this business is an outsider, so first of all, there are gay men all throughout this profession in every capacity, besides the actors & writers & directors & costume designers & designers & in the arts just in general. I have so many friends in my life that are gay, & the straight men that I’ve had relationships with, you know, when you end that relationship it’s very rare that they stick around. So I have to say that the bulk of people that hold my heart & have been through the most with me & have been in my life the longest are the gay men & women.”
“When AIDS hit, it was kind of like the bonding that happened after 9/11 among New Yorkers, because I lost so many friends & I fought so hard to try to even get people to talk about what was going on during the whole Reagan administration. I felt committed in a completely different way through the tragedy of that time & the loneliness of that time & everything that happened. It was so scary & so devastating & we lost so many people that the world just seemed to get so gray. Just all the color drained out of it for so many of us. That for me was also a huge turning point in defining my commitment & realizing how deep my love of my friends went who happened to be gay.”
I was a little dismayed to find her playing Melissa McCarthy’s nanna in Tammy (2014), but she is after all,a grandma in real life & in her latest film About Ray (2015) with Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts, Tate Donovan & Sam Trammell, Sarandon plays a lesbian grandmother. She stays busy, with 4 films set for release in 2016 & active accounts on Twitter & Instagram.