Thank you to David Sonne for arranging this beautiful donation.
Valley Relics has received a generous donation from award-winning actress, Susan Clark. The contribution to the archives spans her and her late husband’s (Alex Karras) entire careers, and includes signed film and television scripts from 17 different productions – most notably from hit sitcom, Webster, and a script from Saturday Night Live which Karras hosted in 1985; over 200 promotional photographs from films they both appeared in; film posters; the original Georgian Bay Productions office sign; scrapbooks; magazines; and other interesting memorabilia from her personal collection.
Susan Clark was born on March 8, 1943 in Ontario, Canada. She started acting at a young age, and studied at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. After gaining exposure on television shows, she earned a contract with Universal and landed her first film role in Banning (1967), a drama starring Robert Wagner. She subsequently played opposite Henry Fonda in Madigan (1968) and earned top female billing opposite rising star, Clint Eastwood, in Coogan’s Bluff (1968).
Susan Clark rose to prominence in the late 1960s/early 1970s with roles including Tell Them Willie Boy is Here (1969, with Robert Redford), Valdez Is Coming (1971), Skin Game (1971, opposite James Garner), Airport 1975 (1974), The Midnight Man (1974, with Burt Lancaster), and Night Moves (1975, with Gene Hackman). She won an Emmy for her role in the TV movie, Babe (1975), in which she portrayed the famous American athlete and Olympian, Babe Didrikson Zaharias. She also met her second husband, co-star Alex Karras, on the set. A year later she portrayed the spirited but ill-fated aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart, for which she was nominated for another Emmy.
Alex Karras, a former NFL star with the Detroit Lions, was also a famous actor in his own right. Born July 15, 1935 in Gary, IN, he was noted for his role as Mongo in the 1974 comedy film Blazing Saddles as well as featuring in Blake Edward’s Victor Victoria (1982) starring Julie Andrews and James Garner. From the 1980s, she and Karras went on to form Georgian Bay Productions and jointly act in and/or produce a number of film and television projects, including the TV movies Jimmy B. & André (1980) and Maid in America (1982), and films such as Porky’s (1981). Their most notable collaboration was Webster (1983), a popular sitcom series which earned Clark a Golden Globe nomination.
After the sitcom ended, Clark was less active on screen for several years, but returned in 1994’s Snowbound: The Jim and Jennifer Stolpa Story, and from 1996-97 she played Aunt Elizabeth in the Emily of New Moon TV series. Since the 1990s, she has appeared in theaters with plays such as Meetin's on the Porch (1990), Bicoastal Women (2003), and The Retreat from Moscow (2006). Clark devotes her time to environmental causes and activism, currently serving on the board of Committee to Bridge the Gap, a non-profit organization focusing on the issues of nuclear safety and disarmament.
The wonderful donation comprises of items from all the films and television shows mentioned, and we are grateful to Susan Clark for entrusting us to preserve them. Thank you!
-- Sarah Glover, Valley Relics Archivist