Morgan Brittany changed her name to erase her child star career
She felt that little Suzie Cupito held her back from becoming famous.
In the Sixties, little Suzanne Cupito certainly made her mark on TV.
Whether she was stealing Opie’s heart on The Andy Griffith Show, snatching a ventriloquist’s dummy from Jackie Cooper on The Twilight Zone or keeping a secret from Chester on Gunsmoke, the sweet girl with the big eyes made an impression.
"I was a skinny little squirt," Cupito told the Associated Press in 1984. "I always looked five years younger."
But when the Sixties ended, Cupito suddenly felt iced out by casting agents who looked at 20-year-old Cupito and saw only a faded child star.
"When I grew up, people who knew me as Suzanne Cupito couldn’t think of me as a grownup," Cupito lamented.
She went to college and got a degree in journalism, but she still felt compelled to continue acting.
So she set her degree aside and sought a new stage name that would totally distinguish her from the young star she once was.
She found the name Morgan Brittany while reading a novel by Frank Yerby called Floodtide with a character by that name.
With this new stage name, she sought to bury Suzie Cupito for good and form a new image that would turn casting directors’ heads.
"I looked like a clarinet in high school," Brittany told United Press International in 1984. "And that’s still the image I get of myself. Morgan Brittany is a glamorous name and a glamorous image, but it’s not the me that I really know inside."
Brittany’s plan worked. She continued acting through the Seventies and Eighties, including a guest role on The Dukes of Hazzard where she met her husband. He was acting as stunt double for John Schneider and she was playing a damsel in distress.
"We started talking and I don’t think we’d known each other for 30 minutes when he asked me to marry him," Brittany said. "I said yes right away. I thought he was kidding. Six months later we were married."
Shortly after, Brittany was cast to take on her biggest role yet, playing Katherine Wentworth on Dynasty.
"Katherine is a bad girl," Brittany said. "But the writers are not making me like any other villainess on Dynasty or Falcon Crest. Katherine is so lovable and sweet. But the minute you turn your back, look out. They based her on Eve Harrington in All About Eve. She’s devious and will stop at nothing to get what she wants."
Brittany appeared on Dynasty until her character was written off the show, freeing her up to star in Aaron Spelling’s new show Glitter.
That show, unfortunately, flopped, but Brittany had regained some currency with casting agents and continued being offered parts until she retired in 2007.
When she looked back on her acting career, Brittany saw a staunch divide between her two completely separate legacies: One as a gawky child star called Suzie Cupito and the other as a soap opera bombshell called Morgan Brittany.
She identified more with Suzie, but that didn’t mean she wanted to portray her onscreen anymore.
Morgan Brittany, she said, is "larger than life and a movie and TV star. When I see that image on the screen, I feel like Suzie watching someone else."
Watch Gunsmoke on MeTV!
Monday - Saturday at 1 PM & 1:30 PM*available in most MeTV markets
She tried to kill Bobby Ewing in a partial remake of the famous "Who Shot J.R.?" story arc.
To that point, watching (and mostly it's actresses, but some males) I often see a new one that instantly reminds you of one before. I have to look twice sometimes!! And they can't do it while the other is alive (obviously). So it just pops up of the radar unexpectedly. I've seen it done with Elizabeth Taylor too. Younger versions. And I think they catch it by doing the eye make up very accurately. Some just take it from Cleopatra, which has to do with drawing the line and shadowing. But now I've listened to this idea being verbalized, and the motivation behind it is fascinating.
In the clip, not made up, I can imagine MB still being Suzi. But talk about a transformation for the screen. I loved her in Dallas, she was typed against a lot of their vixen blondes, and *much* more striking than Linda Grey and Victoria Principal. She had to be careful though, but got by because of such distinctive typing. Her only real competition was Presley or Morgan Fairchild (in the day). And Barbara Eden (who guest starred much later in the Series). But (IMO) MB was a standout.
Thanks for sharing! Such things always send me down the Rabbit Holes. LOL!