Sterling Hayden's Wars

A new release this summer, Sterling Hayden's Wars by Lee Mandel is a biography of the master sailor, war hero, and one of the most unusual and troubled stars of the Golden Era of Hollywood. Read more about Hayden, including a review of the biography from the Washington Post, below.

Hayden at sea as a teenager, undated. Courtesy of Catherine Hayden.
Hayden at Parris Island, 1942. Courtesy of Catherine Hayden.

Hayden as Dix Handley in The Asphalt Jungle, 1950.

Sterling and Kitty Hayden, September 1985. By this time he was gravely ill with cancer. Courtesy of Catherine Hayden.

From the Introduction:

He was the most iconoclastic of actors. In an industry where it is very fashionable to claim that you care nothing about money and don’t really enjoy acting, he truly didn’t care about either. He had a dysfunctional upbringing during the Depression and left home at the age of sixteen to go to sea. By the time he was twenty years old, he had sailed around the world as first mate on a schooner. Despite having no professional training as an actor, he successfully marketed his handsome looks and impressive physique, and in a matter of months, he was starring in a major Hollywood production.
. . .
It would be a mistake to dismiss Sterling Hayden as just another eccentric Hollywood personality. In Sterling Hayden’s Wars, I explore in detail this complex man who was full of self-doubt and proved to be an adept nonconformist who was able to accomplish a great deal in various fields in spite of himself. . . . Whether it was his dysfunctional childhood, battling Hollywood, the Nazis, the HUAC, his ex-wife, alcoholism and substance abuse, his life was a series of wars that he was engaged in, including the most difficult one of them all—the war that Sterling Hayden fought with himself.

Sterling Hayden in The Killing (1956), directed by Stanley Kubrick.

 Read the full review, originally published in the Washington Post, here.