Brooklyn’s Scarlett

By Gene Arceri

Heretics, atheists, agnostics or angels: all guide whatever one believes. There is only one God for us all, whether one be Buddhist, Christian, Hebrew, Muslim, etc.. We all try to find God in our own way through our individual faith. One Academy Award actress was searching and, through a circuitous path, found what she was looking for.

Susan Hayward, BROOKYLN’S SCARLETT, after a suicide attempt, declared to the press, “In the first place, there is God.” True, she did believe in astrology; that moon and tide and sun do affect people. But, also that everything else falls into its appointed pattern. God does work in mysterious ways. “You have to make your own luck”, she said, “but you can enhance the outcome by invoking intercession from the powers that be.”

Hayward was married to her first husband in the Episcopal Church yet in her heart, she always felt the need for the proper channel to bring her in closer proximity to God. While she found comfort and absolution in the vehicle of prayer, she never truly felt the total satisfaction of a religion which afforded opportunities to profess her faith.

Her second husband, Eaton Chalkley, was a Catholic convert and devout churchgoer. He inspired her to build Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in the town of Carrollton, Georgia where the Chalkley’s estate was situated. In those first years of marriage she began to think of converting to her husband’s religion: “I became deeply interested in Catholicism when I went to Rome with my husband in 1958. From that time on I began to move toward this religious faith with deliberate and determined steps. I became convinced that someday I would convert.” In her heart she truly believed in the Biblical verse: “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened unto you.”

There have been many famous converts, from Thomas Beckett, Sarah Bernhardt, Evelyn Waugh, Robert Browning, Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair, Agatha Christie, Antonia Fraser, George Harrison, Rudyard Kipling, G.B. Shaw, Yehudi Menuhin, William Yeats and thousands of others.

After Chalkley’s untimely death, Susan began preparations to become a Catholic. There was great sadness over the loss of her husband, but there was also an even deeper feeling that came from her new religion. It had brought her the comfort and peace of mind that he would have wanted for her. My latest book, BROOKLYN’S SCARLETT, goes into depth about this transition, and although it has many facets to it , above all, the book has a soul.”





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