In two days, Tuesday Weld will celebrate her 72nd birthday — but it just didn't seem right to celebrate on a Thursday. The model turned actress was one of the more mesmerizing figures of the 1960s, appearing in television shows, films and magazines, and her image continued to resonate and enchant well into the '90s.
Born Susan Ker Weld in New York City, Tuesday earned her screen name from her younger cousin, who as a child could only pronounce her name as "Tu-Tu." Weld entered the tough industry of show biz for tough reasons, as her mother put her to work as a preteen as a breadwinner for the family. After some child modeling, Weld got her onscreen break in 1956, at the age of 12, when she first appeared on television and landed a bit role ("Giggling Girl") in Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man.
Later that year, at the age of 13, the blond landed the lead role in Rock, Rock, Rock, a movie that milked the exploding trend of rock & roll. Against a soundtrack of Chuck Berry, The Teenagers and more, Weld plays a prom girl who saves up money for a strapless gown. Weld would henceforth often be cast in the role of the precocious beauty. (Rock, Rock, Rock is also notable for being Valerie Harper's screen debut, MeTV aficionados.)
In 1959, Weld was cast in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and appeared in the first season as Dobie's (and rival Warren Beatty's) primary love interest, Thalia. The teenager became a tabloid item around that time for her affair with John Ireland, an older actor from popular westerns. In a March 1960 issue of Modern Screen magazine, a headline above a story on Weld and Ireland asked, "CAN A TEENAGE GIRL LEARN TOO MUCH ABOUT LOVE TOO SOON?"
From there, Weld was known for the roles she would famously turn down. In 1962, Stanley Kubrick first offered Weld the title role of his Lolita. Weld declined, stating "I didn't have to play it. I was Lolita." She would also say no to lead parts in True Grit, Rosemary's Baby and Bonnie and Clyde.
Which is not to say she made poor choices. Weld earned an Academy Award for her work in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and oozed cool in Michael Mann's ultra-hop Thief (1981).
Yet, to Generation X, perhaps Weld is best known as an alternative rock cover girl. A glamour shot of a young Weld served as the cover to Matthew Sweet's power pop gem, Girlfriend. Sweet would also put Weld on the cover of his greatest hits collection. Not long after, a lounge-y British electronic act would dub itself The Real Tuesday Weld.
Tuesday Weld will eternally be the picture of cool.