Leland Hayward

Leland Hayward


Leland Hayward (September 13, 1902March 18, 1971) was a popular, powerful and wealthy Hollywood and Broadway agent and theatrical producer. Hayward is best remembered as the producer of the Broadway stage productions of South Pacific and The Sound of Music.

Early years

Hayward was born in Nebraska City, Nebraska, the grandson of Monroe Leland Hayward, a senator from Nebraska. His parents, William Hayward and Sarah Tappin, divorced when he was nine. He studied at Princeton University, but dropped out. He took on a number of jobs including newspaper reporter and press agent, but eventually became successful as a talent agent in Hollywood. In the early forties, he handled about 150 artists including Fred Astaire who had been his first client, Jimmy Stewart, Ernest Hemingway, Boris Karloff, Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers, as well as the two former husbands of his wife, Henry Fonda and William Wyler. Some of his female clients he dated as well, including Greta Garbo and Katharine Hepburn.

Hayward was an avid aviator. Together with Jack Connelly he founded Southwest Airways with financial help from his Hollywood friends.


In 1945 Hayward sold his talent agency and became a Broadway producer in New York. His 1949 production of South Pacific was a great success. He produced both the play and the movie Mister Roberts.

Other noteworthy film productions include The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), and The Old Man and the Sea (1958). He was a coproducer (with Merrick) of the 1959 show Gypsy. His biggest success, however, was the The Sound of Music that opened the same year. Later productions could never measure up.

After suffering several strokes, Hayward died at his home, Haywire, in Yorktown Heights, New York on March 18, 1971.


Hayward was married five times.

In 1921 he married the Texas debutante Lola Gibbs. They divorced one year later, remarried and divorced again in 1934.

He married his client, the talented stage and screen actress Margaret Sullavan (ex-Mrs. Henry Fonda) in 1936. They had three children (Brooke Hayward, born July 5, 1937, who was married to actor Dennis Hopper from 1961-69; Bridget 1939-1960; and William, born 1941, committed suicide 20 March, 2008). The family's dysfunctional life had been memorialized in daughter Brooke's memoir, Haywire. In Haywire, Brooke wrote of a conversation she had with William in which he said if he ever committed suicide, he would do so by shooting himself in the heart. Apparently that is exactly what he did.

In 1938 Hayward met Slim Hawks, the wife of film director Howard Hawks. Hayward's marriage to Sullavan came to an end in 1946, and he married Hawks three years later. This marriage became more strained after Slim Hayward had a one-night stand with Frank Sinatra and a longer affair with Peter Viertel.

In 1958 Hayward was introduced to Pamela Churchill, then the mistress of Elie de Rothschild. He proposed to her the following year. On May 4, 1960, hours after his divorce from Hawks was final, Hayward married Pamela Churchill in Carson City, Nevada. They maintained a lavish lifestyle that later had to be curtailed for financial reasons.


  • "Damn few women are genuinely beautiful. A handful. I must have come close to knowing them all. As close as any man alive. Fell in love with half of them, married three-" - Leland Hayward


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