Susan Blakely has had a successful career as an actress and model in Hollywood for decades, but she has one regret for life.
The 73-year-old played Julie Prescott in the film “Rich Man, Poor Man,” with Ed Asner, Nick Nolte, and Peter Strauss. The miniseries, which broadcast in 1976, was nominated for four Emmys and had 23 nominations.
When “Rich Man, Poor Man – Book II” came up, Susan Blakely opted to forego it. From 1976 until 1977, the sequel continued without her.
Blakely recently revealed to Closer Weekly, “That was the stupidest thing I ever did.”
“They hadn’t signed us [for the sequel], so we could literally have asked for anything,” she explained. “The heads of Universal and ABC kept saying, ‘Susie, blank check. What do you want?’ I said no, it wasn’t about the money. I wanted to do other things. But when you have that sort of success, you shouldn’t turn your back on it. It was just youthful ignorance.”
Susan Blakely also said that she landed the part thanks to the unexpected assistance of a big actor.
“I had done a movie called ‘Report to the Commissioner,’” she recalled. “Carol Burnett saw the film. She was friends with [producer] Harve Bennett, and she told him he should cast me. I never knew until later. Carol is an idol of mine, but she never told me because she’s so humble. She didn’t want to take credit.”
Blakely spoke on how she got along with her castmates while bringing “Rich Man, Poor Man” to life.
“Oh, I love Nick,” she gushed about Nolte, 80. “He is such a consummate actor, but also a nice, fun guy. And Peter was fabulous – we’ve reconnected recently. There were other leading men in that show who were fabulous, too: Bill Bixby, who my character married, Ed Asner and Robert Reed.”
But it was the character of Patty in 1974’s “The Towering Inferno” that really enthralled Blakely. The Academy Award-winning picture had an all-star ensemble that included Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, William Holden, Steve McQueen, and Paul Newman, to mention a few. Blakely said that she took the project because Newman was interested in it.
“I was just in love with Paul Newman,” she told the outlet. “He was my biggest crush. So when I heard Paul Newman was in it, I said if he was doing it, I was doing it.”
Blakely said that she was frightened of filming, but the actors immediately put her at ease.
“I had a fabulous time,” she said. “I got to hang out with William Holden, who was a wonderful man, and Fred Astaire, who was amazing… He was just so humble and sweet. I also met my husband on that set, but we didn’t hit it off then. I remembered him when we met again later.”
While she didn’t have many scenes with Newman, just meeting him was enough for her.
“When William Holden said, ‘Susie, I want you to meet Paul Newman,’ I looked at him and my heart started to race!” she said. “He was the sexiest man, the best actor, and he turned out to be the kindest man, too.”
Blakely was also friends with Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward.