Hollywood is full of child stars who have come and gone. For many of them, they simply can’t get meaningful roles once they become adults. For far too many of them, they struggle to transition from childhood to adulthood and their lives and careers spiral out of control. Some decide to call it quits and move onto other things.
One of the earliest examples of this is the actress Cora Sue Collins who began her career as a child actress in 1932 and then walked away from Hollywood in 1945 after finishing her 50th film and turning 18. Now in her 90s, we finally know why exactly she quit Hollywood.
But how did Cora Sue Collins start her career? And what did she do after she quit?
Cora Sue Collins Finally Reveals Why She Quit Hollywood at 18. Join FactsVerse to learn more…
CORA SUE COLLINS’ EARLY LIFE AND CAREER
Cora Sue Collins was born on April 19, 1927, in Beckley, West Virginia. As a young child, she moved to Los Angeles with her mother and her elder sister – and her mother no doubt had bigger dreams for young Cora.
At the age of 5, she was immediately thrust into the limelight when she was cast in the feature film The Unexpected Father which was released in 1932. She played little Pudge in the film and she was paid $250 per week for her work – certainly a King’s ransom, or a Kid’s ransom, perhaps in those days.
While she was only a child, it was clear that she had great on-screen presence and could clearly work well with other actors and follow the directions of her director. The money was great and she could support her family and later herself with it.
It was clear from the very beginning that Cora Sue Collins was destined for stardom…
CORA SUE COLLIN’S CAREER
Now let’s look back at Cora Sue Collins’ illustrious career. While perhaps only cinephiles and film historians might know about her today, she is arguably one of the most successful child actresses in Hollywood history. She came of age as talking pictures were becoming popular and the Golden Age of Hollywood was born.
The Unexpected Father – a romantic comedy – was followed by Smilin’ Through, a Pre-Code romantic drama film. She had a very small role playing the younger version of the character Kathleen – played by Norma Shearer. Her role was smaller and went uncredited but she still managed to get offers for roles. It was clear that she had made a great impression on this burgeoning industry.
Hollywood was becoming the now-famous institution we know and going to the cinema was a huge part of American life. The actors and actresses on screen became heroes and many Americans felt that these stars were a part of their families. Likewise, the children that were seen on screen almost became a part of the family – as if Americans were seeing their own children on screen.
Such was the case with Cora Sue Collins.
She had 3 other film releases in 1932. In just one year, the year she got started, she appeared in 5 back-to-back film hits! Let’s have a look back at these films.
After Smilin’ Through, the film Silver Dollar was released. Silver Dollar was a fictitious account of a silver tycoon based on the actual tycoon Horace Tabor. The film starred Edward G. Robinson and little Cora Sue Collins was now used to acting alongside some of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
Her role was once again small but once again she was in a hit film, so this was enough for her to be an in-demand actress. One can imagine that offers came in one after the other.
Silver Dollar was followed by a comedy film called They Just Had to Get Married. She played little Rosalie and she was once again part of a great ensemble cast. Nevertheless, audiences loved her acting in the film and they couldn’t get enough of Cora Sue Collins.
Her final film of 1932 was The Strange Case of Clara Deane. This was a crime and drama film and she played the child version of the character Nancy Deane. Are you beginning to see a trend here? She was so popular that many films would have flashback scenes where Cora Sue Collins was made to play a child version of one of the main characters.
1933 was an even better year than her debut year. Her films during this year were, once again, mostly playing younger versions of main characters. Her films released in 1933 were Picture Snatcher, Jennie Gerhardt, Torch Singer, The Prizefighter and the Lady, The Sin of Nora Moran, and Queen Christina.
The offers kept coming in and with each year the number of films she appeared in also increased. Within the first two years of her career, she had appeared in 10 films – and she was only 6 years old at the end of 1933!
The bulk of her films were released in 1934 and 1935. She continued to act in films every year except for a break in 1937 and a two year gap in 1943 and 1944.
The final year of her career was in 1945 when she acted in 3 films. She was now 18 years old and was no longer a child actress but still got a few roles. She had one uncredited role in the film Roughly Speaking. But her notable roles during that year were in the films Youth on Trial and Weekend at the Waldorf which was her final film.
By this time, she was one of the most well-known child actresses in the country. In fact, in 1942, three years earlier she had appeared as herself in a film called Johnny Doughboy. While she wasn’t working in as many films, she still had a consistent career. It seemed that she had managed to still find great work even as she became a teenager and eventually an adult.
Her career was going from strength to strength and there didn’t seem to be any reason as to why she’d ever need or want to leave Hollywood.
And yet, after turning 18 and appearing in 3 films in 1945 she did indeed call it quits…
CORA SUE COLLINS FINALLY REVEALS WHY SHE QUIT HOLLYWOOD AT 18
Now in her nineties, the average film fan isn’t aware of Cora Sue Collins. Perhaps only the discerning cinephile and film historians wondered what happened to her after 1945.
But recently, back in 2020 she broke her silence. Cora Sue Collins finally revealed why she quit Hollywood at 18. It wasn’t a decision she regretted and in fact she said that it was one of the best decisions she made in her entire life!
She had been interviewed by author Carla Valderrama for the book “This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories.” A profile was written about her in the book and the fateful question of why she left the business was finally answered.
Sadly, Cora Sue Collins claimed that she had been a victim of sexual harassment during her career. When she was 15, she was still getting roles but now she wasn’t just seen as an innocent child but there were people in the industry who wished to take advantage of her. Sadly, this has been the case for many child stars and Cora Sue Collins’ tale is one of the earliest that we’re just learning about now.
She claimed that an older screenwriter told her she wouldn’t work in a film he wrote unless she slept with him. Thankfully she refused but she also told Louis B. Mayer – one of the founders of MGM about the incident. Rather than coming to her protection, she claimed that he told her this was standard and that she’d have to get used to it.
Luckily, she decided she wasn’t going to put up with such nonsense. She continued to appear in a few films until she turned 18 and then she decided to call it quits so she wouldn’t have to deal with the darker side of Hollywood ever again.
Her life was great afterward so she had no regrets. She was married thrice – first to a wealth ranch owner named Ivan Stauffer. In 1961, she married a man named James Morgan Cox after her first marriage ended. This second marriage also ended and she eventually married Harry Nace to whom she remained married until his death in 2002. She had changed her name to Susie Nace and had been living in Phoenix, Arizona.
While she walked away from Hollywood she still kept in touch with Greta Garbo whom she had acted alongside in two films. They remained friends until Greta Garbo’s death in 1990 when Cora Sue Collins was 63!
Today, she’s living a quieter life and she’s glad that she left Hollywood and has stated that it’s a rotten business. But she doesn’t regret her career as she left behind a body of work and enjoyed many aspects of her career. She looks back on her life and while she’s glad that she left the rotten business, she’s grateful to have lived a wonderful life.
Unlike many child stars, she left unscathed and managed to live a happy and peaceful life. Perhaps now that we know why she left Hollywood, her story can be an inspiration to many other child stars who perhaps want to leave this industry and still live a joyous life.
So, now let’s hear from you:
Were you previously aware of Cora Sue Collins? Have you ever watched any of her films?
We’re glad that she is living a great life and that she’s managed to live a fulfilling life since leaving show business.
With that being said, here’s what we want to know:
Do you think that we’ll see more child stars move away from Hollywood when they become adults?
Or will most of them try to continue their careers as they enter adulthood?