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CORA SUE COLLINS

When her mother discovered that her father had given his secretary a mink coat, 3-year-old Cora Sue Collins, her mother and older sister left their comfortable Virginia home and ventured to Hollywood. A chance meeting with a casting agent on Highland Avenue near Hollywood Boulevard lead to an audition at Universal, and Cora Sue was chosen over other child actors, including Judy Garland, to play the lead in the film The Unexpected Father (1932). MGM noticed her and presented her with a contract. Her big break came in 1933, when Greta Garbo chose her to play her younger character’s self in Queen Christina. From there, Cora Sue was kept busy at MGM and on loan to all the major and minor studios playing the younger version of the female star, or playing the daughter of some of Hollywood’s top stars of the classic 1930s period.  Amongst her films were Smilin’ Through (1932), Torch Singer (1933), Prizefighter and the Lady (1933), As the Earth Turns (1934), Treasure Island (1934), The Scarlet Letter (1934), Mad Love (1935), Anna Karenina (1935), Magnificent Obsession (1935), All This, and Heaven Too (1940), Blood and Sand (1941) and many others. Her co-stars included Myrna Loy and William Powell, Peter Lorre, Irene Dunne, Greta Garbo, Colleen Moore, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy to name a few. Rouben Mamoulien, Michael Curtiz, Norman Taurog, Victor Fleming, Anatole Litvak, Karl Freund and Clarence Brown were amongst her directors. Her favorite cameraman was James Wong Howe. She was among the first actors to be photographed in three-strip Technicolor. As a child, she went to the school of MGM, had Jean Harlow to her birthday party, had her own line of clothing merchandise and hosted a radio show with Lionel Barrymore.  At 14, she went to Broadway and then toured the play Junior Miss.  At 16, much to her stage mother’s dismay, she chose to leave making movies, and except for a featured role in her last film Week-end at the Waldorf (1945), she has not returned to acting. Cora Sue married and raised three children and has lived a happy life in Europe, Mexico and in Los Angeles since her movie days. She is one of the few with us who can tell of the days of working in the classic era of Hollywood. She is very pleased and honored to have been invited to participate in this year’s Turner Classic Movie Film Festival.

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