Weld began her acting career as a child, and progressed to more mature roles during the late 1950s. She won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Female Newcomer in 1960. Over the following decade she established a career playing dramatic roles in films.
As a featured performer in supporting roles, her work was acknowledged with nominations for a Golden Globe Award for Play It As It Lays (1972), a nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1978), an Emmy Award for The Winter of Our Discontent (1983), and a BAFTA for Once Upon a Time in America (1984).
Since the end of the 1980s, her acting appearances have been infrequent.
Background and familyWeld was born Susan Ker Weld in New York City. Her father, Lathrop Motley Weld, was a member of the Weld family of Massachusetts; he died in 1947, shortly before her fourth birthday. Her mother was Weld's fourth and final wife, the former Yosene Balfour Ker, the daughter of the artist and Life illustrator William Balfour Ker. She was one of three full siblings, the other two being Sarah King Weld (born 1935) and David Balfour Weld (born 1937).
She also had two half-siblings by her father's first marriage to Dorothy Livermore Wells: Lathrop Motley Weld Jr. (born 1922) and Thomas Livermore Weld (1926–1999). Her paternal grandfather, Edward Motley Weld, was a noted sportsman and former president of the New York Cotton Exchange. Her maternal great-grandmother, Lily Florence (Bell) Ker, was a first cousin of Alexander Graham Bell.
Through her father, she is a third cousin of William Weld, the former Governor of Massachusetts and is more distantly related to former U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry, U.S. vice president Henry A. Wallace, actress Dina Merrill, British aristocrat Viscountess Linley, composer Charles Ives, actor Clint Eastwood, actor Anthony Perkins, and Charles J. Guiteau, who assassinated President James A. Garfield.
Through her mother, she was descended from John Kerr, discoverer of the Kerr effect.
CareerLeft in financial difficulty by her husband's death, Weld's mother put her to work as a child model to support the family. As the young actress told Life in 1971:
|“||My father’s family came from Tuxedo Park, and they offered to take us kids and pay for our education, on the condition that Mama never see us again. Mama was an orphan who had come here from London, but so far as my father’s family was concerned, she was strictly from the gutter. I have to give Mama credit — she refused to give us up... So I became the supporter of the family, and I had to take my father’s place in many, many ways. I was expected to make up for everything that had ever gone wrong in Mama’s life. She became obsessed with me, pouring out her pent-up love — her alleged love — on me, and it’s been heavy on my shoulders ever since. To this day, Mama thinks I owe everything to her.||”|
Using Weld's résumé from modelling, her mother secured an agent and Tuesday (an extension of her childhood nickname, "Tu-Tu", given to her by her young cousin, Mary Ker, who could not pronounce "Susan" yet) Weld made her acting debut on television at age 12 and her feature film debut the same year in a bit role in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock crime drama, The Wrong Man. The pressures of her career, however, resulted in a nervous breakdown at age nine, alcoholism by age 12, and a suicide attempt around the same time.
In 1956, Weld played the lead in Rock, Rock, Rock, which featured record promoter Alan Freed and singers Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon, and Johnny Burnette. In the film, Connie Francis performed the vocals for Weld's singing parts. In 1959, having appeared as "Dorothy" in The Five Pennies, she was cast as Thalia Menninger in the CBS television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Although Weld was a cast member for only a single season, the show gave her considerable national publicity, and she was named a co-winner of a "Most Promising Newcomer" award at the Golden Globe Awards. In 1960, she appeared as Joy, a free-spirited university student in High Time, starring Bing Crosby and Fabian. She also guest-starred that season on NBC's The Tab Hunter Show. On November 12, 1961, she played a young singer, "Cherie", in the seventh episode of ABC's television series Bus Stop, with Marilyn Maxwell and Gary Lockwood. In 1963, she guest-starred as Denise Dunlear on the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour, in the episode "Something Crazy's Going on the Back Room". Her costars in the episode were Angela Lansbury, Martin Balsam, Roy Thinnes, and Don Grady. In 1964, she appeared in the title role of the episode "Keep an Eye on Emily" on Craig Stevens's CBS drama, Mr. Broadway. In that same year she appeared in "Dark Corner", an episode of The Fugitive, starring David Janssen.
In 1961, when Weld was 18, she had an off-screen romance with Elvis Presley, her costar in Wild in the Country. Weld's mother was scandalized by her teenage daughter's affairs with older men, but Weld resisted, saying, "'If you don’t leave me alone, I’ll quit being an actress — which means there ain’t gonna be no more money for you, Mama.' Finally, when I was sixteen, I left home. I just went out the door and bought my own house."
She was well received for her portrayal of an incest victim in Return to Peyton Place, the sequel to the 1956 film Peyton Place, but the film was less successful than its predecessor.
Weld appeared with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen in the 1963 comedy Soldier in the Rain; her performance was well received, but the film was only a minor success. That same year she and former co-star Dwayne Hickman appeared in Jack Palance's circus drama, The Greatest Show on Earth on ABC, but in separate episodes. Later in her career, she turned down roles in films that became great successes, such as Bonnie and Clyde, Rosemary's Baby, True Grit, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
In 1965, she appeared in the successful Norman Jewison film The Cincinnati Kid, opposite Steve McQueen. Some of her most notable screen performances include the cult favorite Lord Love a Duck (1966) with Roddy McDowall, Ruth Gordon and Harvey Korman; Pretty Poison (1968), co-starring Anthony Perkins and Beverly Garland; A Safe Place (1971), co-starring Jack Nicholson and Orson Welles; I Walk the Line (1970), opposite Gregory Peck; and Play It As It Lays (1972), again with Perkins, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
In her thirties, Weld performed in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress; Who'll Stop the Rain (1978) opposite Nick Nolte; and Michael Mann's acclaimed 1981 film Thief, opposite James Caan. In 1984, she appeared in Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America, playing a jeweler's secretary who is in on a plan to steal a shipment of diamonds. While the robbery is happening she goads Robert De Niro's character, David "Noodles" Aaronson into "raping" her with her complicity.
Weld has also appeared in a number of television movies, including Circle of Violence (1986), Reflections of Murder (1987) and A Question of Guilt, in which she plays a woman accused of murdering her children. In 1993, she played a police officer's neurotic wife in Falling Down starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall.
Personal lifeWeld has been married three times.
She was married to screenwriter Claude Harz, from 1965 until their divorce in 1971. They had a daughter, Natasha, in 1966. Of the marriage, Weld told Guy Flatley of The New York Times in 1971, "Mama hated my husband — she’s a jealous lover, you know. She’s hated all the men I’ve ever been involved with. But I really felt that what I had been doing up to that time with my life was probably wrong, that maybe what I should be was a housewife. Our marriage lasted 5 years; it was just another one of my mistakes."
She married British actor, musician, and comedian Dudley Moore in 1975. In 1976 they had a son, Patrick, an actor, director, and editor. They divorced in 1980. In 1985 she married Israeli concert violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman; they divorced in 1998.
Weld is mentioned in Donald Fagan's song "New Frontier" from his 1982 certified Platinum and Grammy-nominated album The Nightfly.
The cover of Matthew Sweet's third album Girlfriend features a photograph of Tuesday Weld from the late 1950s. Originally called Nothing Lasts, the album was retitled following objections to the title from Weld. Sweet's greatest hits compilation, Time Capsule, also features photos of Weld on both the front and back cover.
Year Film Role Notes
1956 Rock, Rock, Rock Dori Graham
1958 Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! Comfort Goodpasture
1959 The Five Pennies Dorothy Nichols, age 12 to 14
1960 Because They're Young Anne Gregor
Sex Kittens Go to College Jody
High Time Joy Elder
The Private Lives of Adam and Eve Vangie Harper
1961 Return to Peyton Place Selena
Wild in the Country Doreen Braxton
1962 Bachelor Flat Libby Bushmill aka Libby Smith
1963 Soldier in the Rain Bobby Jo Pepperdine
1965 I'll Take Sweden JoJo Holcomb
The Cincinnati Kid Christian
1966 Lord Love a Duck Barbara Ann Greene
1968 Pretty Poison Sue Ann Stepanek
1970 I Walk the Line Alma McCain
1971 A Safe Place Susan/Noah
1972 Play It As It Lays Maria Wyeth Lang Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1974 Reflections of Murder Vicky
1977 Looking for Mr. Goodbar Katherine Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1978 Who'll Stop the Rain Marge Converse
1980 Serial Kate Linville Holroyd
1981 Madame X Holly Richardson (TV)
1982 Author! Author! Gloria Travalian
The Rainmaker Lizzie (TV)
CableACE Award for Actress in a Theatrical or Non-Musical Program
1983 The Winter of Our Discontent Margie Young-Hunt (TV)
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1984 Once Upon a Time in America Carol Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1986 Circle of Violence Georgia Benfield
1988 Heartbreak Hotel Marie Wolfe
1993 Falling Down Amanda Prendergast
1996 Feeling Minnesota Nora Clayton
2001 Investigating Sex Sasha
Chelsea Walls Greta