‘40s star Susan Peters faded into obscurity after tragic end: book

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EXCLUSIVE:Susan Peters was on her way to becoming a sought-after leading lady in Hollywood when a freak accident on New Year’s Day 1945 forever changed her fate.

Despite the Spokane, Wash., native’s determination to dominate the silver screen, the Oscar-nominated actress couldn’t escape the challenges that impacted her career. Peters passed away in 1952 at age 31 and her films were seemingly forgotten with time -- at least until now.

Carla Valderrama and Turner Classic Movies (TCM)recently released a book titled, "This Was Hollywood," which shines a spotlight on former stars who faded into obscurity. The author drew on new interviews, rare documents, as well as conversations with some of the last living sources who knew the former movie idols.

Susan Peters is featured in 'This Was Hollywood,' a new book released by author Carla Valderrama and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

"Susan looked like the most beautiful girl next door ever," Valderrama told Fox News. "When you see her films today, you’re just blown away by her performance. She comes across as so modern and natural. You can’t help but keep your eyes on her. Her performance just grabs at you and you immediately feel this star quality. It was apparent from the very beginning."

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According to Valderrama, Peters was sent to Los Angeles when she was 5 years old to live with her grandmother after her father died in a car accident. Peters later befriended a boy paralyzed by polio. The friendship gave her big dreams of studying medicine.

"It’s haunting to read those interviews Susan made before her accident because she talks about this young boy who couldn’t walk," Valderrama explained. "She would always ask, ‘Why can’t he walk again?’"

Susan Peters originally wanted to study medicine after she befriended a boy who was paralyzed. 

Susan Peters originally wanted to study medicine after she befriended a boy who was paralyzed.  (Everett Collection)

"So her goal was to study medicine, but instead, she’s introduced to a talent scout. She really wanted to go to medical school and believed that by making movies full-time she could quickly save up for it. She also gave herself a deadline. If she didn’t make it as an actress after three years, she would quit," the author continued.

According to Valderrama, Peters was seriously considering returning to her goal of studying medicine when she was cast in 1942’s "Tish" alongside Richard Quine. That same year, she starred in "Random Harvest," for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. At age 21, Peters was one of the youngest nominees in history at the time, The Hollywood Reporter revealed.

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Peters’ life -- both personally and professionally -- was blossoming. MGM signed her to a long-term contract. Quine, who was already married to actress Susan Paley, fell in love with his co-star and in 1943, the pair tied the knot. Peters was also chosen to star in 1944’s "Song of Russia," a role that was originally considered for Hedy Lamarr and Greta Garbo.

Stephanie Nolasco Fox News