From Kissing Cary Grant to a 65-Year Marriage: Meet 93-Year-Old Oscar Presenter Eva Marie Saint
Eva Marie Saint might not have been immediately recognizable to younger audiences when she presented at Sunday’s 90th Academy Awards, but the 93-year-old’s 70-year career has had no shortage of memorable moments.
The actress has appeared in more than 161 productions, according to her alma mater, Bowling Green State University, where there is now a theater named after her. Over the decades, she starred alongside legendary actors like Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Cary Grant.
Over the course of her career, she was also able to work with some of Hollywood’s greatest directors, like Elia Kazan, Alfred Hitchcock, Norman Jewison, Otto Preminger and Fred Zinneman.
After entering the world of television as a page at NBC in the early ’40s, Saint managed to make a living as a working actress by appearing in a number of commercials, radio programs and television shows. She won a Drama Critics Award for her onstage work in 1953, and was nominated for Emmys in 1955 and 1956.
Saint made her transition to the big screen with 1954’s classic On the Waterfront, which starred Brando and was directed by Kazan. Her film debut earned her an Oscar win for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1954. She famously accepted the award just days before giving birth to her first child, Darrell Hayden.
The film was a hit with critics and audiences alike and helped launch Saint’s career. She went on to give noteworthy performances in films like A Hatful of Rain, which starred Don Murray, and Raintree County, which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.
In 1959, Hitchcock made a surprise decision casting her to star in his next film, the iconic North by Northwest. The director made headlines when he had Saint chop off her famously long locks for the role of the sultry femme fatale.
She received more rave reviews for the role, and her chemistry with her onscreen love interest, played by Cary Grant, was so intense that it became distracting for at least one onset technician.
During her big kiss scene with Grant, Saint later told Vanity Fair with a smile,“I was hoping I wouldn’t step on his feet.”
She added, “That was the scene on the train and we had to move like the train was moving and there was a still man taking photos while we were doing the scene. He was up about 12 or 15 steps, he got so involved in the kissing scene he fell off the ladder. He didn’t hurt himself so we can laugh about it. So then we had to do it again, which wasn’t bad.”
She went on to appear in the Oscar-winning films Exodus (1960) and Grand Prix (1966), as well as the Oscar-nominated films The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming (1966) and Superman Returns in 2006. Her last big screen appearance came as recently as 2014 with Winter’s Tale.
In addition to her legendary career onscreen, Saint enjoyed a famously stable home life with her husband, producer and director Jeffrey Hayden. The duo had two children — Darrell, who worked as a design instructor at a San Francisco university, and Laurette, a marriage and family therapist — and three grandchildren. They were married for 65 years until Hayden’s death at the age of 90 in 2016.
The 2018 Oscars were held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4 and were telecast live on ABC.