Susan Hart UPD
Born in the small apple-growing town of Wenatchee, Washington, the future TV-movie actress is the daughter of George and Dorothy Brown Neidhart. Her family went south to Palm Springs, California, in the 1940s to seek warmer winters, and Susan divided those years between Washington and California. In her school years, she excelled at dance, art and drama, and enjoyed most the chance to observe up-close the stars who were regularly seen along Palm Canyon Drive. She resolved to make the entertainment arts her career, and threw herself into the local theater scene.After her graduation from Palm Springs High School, vacationing Susan was approached by a Hollywood agent on a Waikiki beach, suggesting that if she were interested in pursuing a career in motion pictures, he would like to represent her. A few months later, she signed with his theatrical agency and, at the same time, became involved with the Rudy Solari Actors' Theatre in Hollywood. Her first film role was in a half-hour television special with Steve Allen and, within a few months, she was landing other TV roles. In 1963, she was chosen as a "Hollywood Deb Star". Her first co-starring movie role was in Columbia's Ride the Wild Surf (1964), a romantic drama in the new genre of beach movies; she played island girl "Lili Kalua" opposite Tab Hunter. She was then put under contract and appeared in a number of films at American International Pictures; she and her husband, AIP president James H. Nicholson, had a son, Jim, who is now (2000s) a composer living in the New York area. During that period, she was also under contract to MGM Records and did several singles, a few of which she toured the country promoting.After Nicholson's death, she became very involved with the Variety Club of Southern California, which helped her raise (in her late husband's name) enough money to create the pediatric heart wing at UCLA Medical Center. The James H. Nicholson Pediatric Chair is the result of that endeavor. She also took over the production company he left behind, completing the production of two of his 20th Century-Fox pictures, The Legend of Hell House (1973) and Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974), both highly successful. During the 1970s and 1980s, she remained a "silent partner" owner of about 40 Nicholson-produced AIP motion pictures of the 1950s, later acquiring direct ownership of ten of these films, including her personal favorite I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957). She returned briefly to the recording studio in 1981 and performed for Dore Records the Guy Hemric-Jerry Styner-written country-western song "Is This a Disco or a Honky Tonk?", which made it to the charts. Soon after this success, she became involved in the figure skating world, joining a precision ice team at the Town Center ice rink in Palm Desert. She took part in several amateur skating competitions, including Adult Nationals in Las Vegas, placing first in an entertainment category.