The Untold Truth Of Eva Marie Saint

Eva Marie Saint is an award-winning actress with a wildly successful career that has spanned over 75 years. She earned both an Oscar and Emmy, and her contributions to both film and television were mirrored in the fact that she was one of the few actors to earn two Hollywood Walk of Fame stars — one for each category.

However, Saint's beginnings were far from Hollywood. The actress was born on July 4, 1924, in Newark, New Jersey, per Turner Classic Movies. She later moved to New York after college and accepted any job that would give her a foot in the door in the industry, including a commercial for Keds sneakers where she cheered "Keds are keen!" Her first "role" was applauding on camera for "The Borden Show," for which she received just $15. She also worked as an NBC tour guide, though she later admitted she did not make as many connections as she had hoped, per an interview published by The Emmys.

However, there was at least one major benefit of her working at NBC, and that was meeting one of her idols, Joan Crawford, in an elevator.

"You want to be an actress?" the "Mildred Pierce" star asked. Upon hearing Saint's affirmative, she added, "You will be, you will be."

Ironically, Saint had never wanted to do movies

Though Saint loved acting, she was far more comfortable on the stage than in front of a camera. After performing in a television broadcast of "Trip to Bountiful," she confessed that she had decided that she was done with acting on film. According to The Independent, most of her dislike was rooted in the fact that the people involved in the televised play were more focused on her appearance than her talent.

"They would ask me how much I weighed, my height, and my bust size," she explained. The attitude was understandably off-putting for Saint. "This is silly. This is not for me. I want to stay in the theater," she remembered thinking.

However, legendary director Elia Kazan ended up loving her performance so much that he requested she audition — with Marlon Brando, no less — for a supporting role in his latest movie, "On the Waterfront." The film ended up catapulting her into the stratosphere of stardom.

Eva Marie Saint's film debut earned her an Oscar

Though many actors take years to garner an Oscar nomination, let alone a win, Saint managed to snag an Academy Award after her first film appearance. The movie was "On the Waterfront," in which the blond actress played the sister of a murder victim and the love interest of Marlon Brando. She won rave reviews for her performance, and the film — which itself was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight total — was a major box office and critical success.

Even more incredible was the fact that Saint was just 48 hours away from giving birth to her first child when she won the Oscar for best supporting actress. As she accepted her statue from Frank Sinatra at the glamorous event, she even poked fun at her pregnancy.

"I may have the baby right here!" she joked, per

Two days later, she welcomed her son, Darrell Hayden.

Alfred Hitchcock gave Saint some career advice

Though Alfred Hitchcock's treatment of women has been a subject of controversy, he did offer Eva Marie Saint some surprisingly feminist advice. Though Saint had previously favored tragic and dramatic roles, Hitchcock encouraged her to branch out into more empowered roles, such as the cool blond femme fatales he often featured in his films.

"Women go to the movies, and they've just left the sink at home," he explained, sensing the desire for many housewives to seek escapism in their theater-going (via The Santa Barbara International Film Festival).

The esteemed director wasn't the only person who gave her some life-changing career advice. Saint's husband, director Jeffrey Hayden, was actually the person who first encouraged her to consider "North by Northwest." 

"I vividly remember him saying, 'Honey, I think you should find a quiet spot. I'll take care of the children and I want you to really think about this and reread this script,'" she recalled in an interview with Vanity Fair. "He was so right. And that's what husbands are for."

Despite her success, Saint always believed that family came first

Though Eva Marie Saint was one of the most successful actresses of her time, she felt no qualms in taking some time off in order to focus on family.

"My agent was great but he wanted me to do too much work when I had two young children," she explained to the Santa Barbara Independent. "I would turn things down, and he would tell me that I would never be a super-superstar if I didn't work more ... I want to continue working, but my family always comes first. And that's how I've always felt," she concluded.

When Saint decided to resume acting with "Exodus," she decided to move her entire family — her husband, children, parents, and even her in-laws — to Europe for the three months of filming. 

Though Hollywood marriages are not known for their longevity, Saint managed to break the odds and remained married to her husband for 65 years until his death in 2016.

Eva Marie Saint branched into television later in her career

As part of her commitment to her family, Eva Marie Saint started seeking projects that had more flexible filming schedules and shorter commitments and often leaned toward television productions to accommodate those needs, per TCM. In 1978, she starred in the two-person drama "Taxi" along with Martin Sheen. The role ended up earning her an Emmy nomination. One year later, she starred in the war drama "When Hell Was in Session" as the wife of a captured soldier who spends seven years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. In 1981, she played the mother of a teen struggling with an eating disorder in "The Best Little Girl in the World," and in 1984 had a star turn as the mother of a murder victim in smash NBC success "Fatal Vision."

In 1990, she won an Emmy for her portrayal of a snobbish society matriarch in the mini-series "People Like Us." More recently, she starred as Superman's mother in the 2006 movie "Superman Returns" and also acted in the 2014 fantasy film "A Winter's Tale." She has also appeared on multiple podcasts over the past few years, including "The Pack Podcast."

At present, Saint resides in Los Angeles and is currently the world's oldest Oscar winner, per Westview News.