Orien Heyward

Orien Heyward

After years and years of gazing at classic actresses, I have have noticed that my standard of beauty has increased so dramatically it’s awfully hard to impress me anymore. Most of the modern actresses are simply blah in terms of looks, and I am very critical of anyone who calls women beautiful. There is a difference between a beautiful, a cute, and a pretty woman. Jean Porter was cute. Hedy Lamarr beautiful and I dislike when anybody mixes it up.

Yet, if anybody took my breath away, it was Orien Heyward. When I saw her I was like, “Whoa Nelly”! A regal, elegant face, perfect nose, long blonde hair make her a true Southern Belle, somebody who could have given Scarlett O’Hara some mean competition.

Yet, despite her exquisite looks, she totally obscure with a very slim filmography,


Orien Heyward was born as Alma Katherine Haywood on December 21, 1914, in to Roger Freeman Haywood and the former Orien Stampler. She was the oldest of seven children (Roger, Helen, Margaret, Milton, John, Emanuel). The family lived in Jefferson, Kentucky, and moved to Louisville, Kentucky at some point.

The press later tried to claim that Orien was from a wealthy, well to do family, and was named the most aristocratic woman in Kentucky while still in her teens. Her parents were prominent socialites in the area, and she probably attended private schools there. This was far fromt he truth – the family was not well off, and she went to work becouse she had to, not becouse she was looking how to shorted her long, boring socialite days.


She started modeling in 1935 under the name of Kitty Barrnett in New York and quickly became a top model. Just to illustrate her popularity, she was a model for a cigarette company, and the ad had more than 40 million copies, and she was once on the cover of three prestigious magazines in one month!

Orien hit Hollywood after producer Budd Schulberg noticed her in New York and offered her a movie contract. She decided to use he mother’a name, Orien Heyward, for the movies, and noted to the newspapers, “I’ll be needing a little luck.”

No luck cam her way. Orien has only two movie credits:  She Asked for It  and Her Husband Lies. The former movie is a unbilled one, thus of no use for her career advancement.

“She asked for it” was supposed to be her springboard to fame, and it ended a flop. After reading the plot, It was absolutely clear to me why – it’s one hot mess, with a rather complicated but silly story fit into a 64 minute feature. While I did not watch it, after reading some reviews, I can deduce that Orien was one of the few bright spots of the movie, her looks and general acting ability serving her well for somebody who has no prior experience in the area. But, nothing else was good. I already mentioned the stupid story, supporting actors were cardboard thin, the editing choppy.

That was the end of her Hollywood career.


Orien HeywardOrien married for the first time on March 18, 1932, to Charles E. Barrett in Jeffersonville, Indiana. She claimed she was 4 years older than she really was on the marriage certificate, born in 1910, making her 21 for the marriage instead of 17. The marriage ended some time later, not quite sure when (could not find any records – but my guess is in about 1934 or 1935), but probably before she went to New York, as Barrett was also from Kentucky and he probably did not encourage his wife to branch into modeling.

She was so popular as a model she was supposed to sail for Paris and write a column about fashion there, but the business with Hollywood halted her. One wonders what could have been if Orien went to the French capital – could she have become a chic model for Balenciaga, or perhaps a rival to Bettina? Aly Khan would certainly have tried to seduce her, and her movie career could have amounted to something…

Orien had a boyfriend when she went to Hollywood, who secretly visited her on the West Coats, but his name was never revealed (intentionally or just a publicity gimmick?).

The next time anything is mentioned about her private life, she is secretly married to a Los Angeles businessman, Harold Spurrier Anderson. They wed in Point Lobos, Carmel-by-the-Sea, in early may 1938.

After the marriage, Orien left movies and dedicated herself to family. She gave birth to a son, William Todd Anderson, on October 7, 1939. She, her new baby and husband lived in Bel Air in 1940.

Sadly, Harold Anderson died on December 27, 1941 in Los Angeles. Orien then married a Mr. Holst prior to 1950. They had another son, Lance Holst. Orien often traveled around the world, but little else is known about her life.

Her son William Anderson died on October 19, 1998 at the age of 59. Orien lived in Pebble Beach, California, and died there on June 28, 2004, at the age of 89.


6 responses

  1. I’m not sure where the writer obtained details, particularly about her early life, but many details are entirely inaccurate. Perhaps it was a “made-up” background written back in the day but her family was far from wealthy or aristocratic. My great-grandparents were never socialites. Many of her siblings did go on to have successful careers and well-rounded, happy lives. As for my great-Aunt Kitty, she went to New York with next-to-no money. She happened to be in the right place at the right time at a modeling agency and the modeling career began.

    My aunt was a stunning woman but was also a wonderful, warm, generous, vivacious woman. Many of her characteristics were shared by her siblings. I miss her and my other family members who have passed. I’m fortunate to have one of her siblings, another great-aunt, still with us.

    • Hi, nice to hear from somebody who knew her! I took all the info from the newspaper of the day, and she was branded as a southern aristocrat in the papers, you can check for yourself on Google Archives. She was so beautiful it was easy to believe it! If you have any info to add, I would be very glad to add it to the profile! I would like to know what happened to her sons, or her second husband?

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