Her movie career encompassed only 12 films. Of those, only 2 are well-remembered: The Phantom of the Opera with Nelson, and with Claude Rains in the title role, a complete mangling of the story, with more opera than phantom, so the horror rested on Nelson and Susanna's endless singing far more than on Claude's spookiness (ironically, Claude's non-singing voice was the most memorable of the three), and The Climax, another musical horror movie which was basically a remake of the just-finished Phantom, in which she co-starred with my ex-husband, Boris Karloff, and with total sexy dreamboat, Turhan Bey.
Both films were in particularly garish Technicolor, which made them A-films, rare in mid-World War II pictures. Phantom won two Oscars, and was nominated for 2 more. The Climax was nominated for one, but managed to lose. They must have been desperate in the 1940s, although not desperate enough to give me one. Oh sure, Phantom looked pretty in color, but what about me? What about my magnificent performance in PMS's utterly unforgettable Civil War epic East vs West?
Susanna, showing rare judgement (very rare judgement, almost none. How do you think she ended up living in a car?), turned down National Velvet. How embarrassing for her when Liz Taylor took the role she disdained and became one of the most beloved stars in the history of movies, second only to me? MGM dropped her contract. (Teenagers did not say "No" to L.B. Mayer.) Oh Susanna, were you too chagrined to confess you thought you'd been offered the title role?