‘It Was The Single Best Decision Of My Life’: Why Cora Sue Collins Left Hollywood

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‘It Was The Single Best Decision Of My Life’: Why Cora Sue Collins Left Hollywood

By Movieguide® Contributor

Former child star Cora Sue Collins recently revealed why she chose to leave Hollywood. 

Collins starred in movies like THE SCARLET LETTER and ANNA KARENINA, and was even considered a rival to Shirley Temple. However, she abruptly left her movie career behind with no explanation. 

In a 2020 book, “This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories,” Collins claimed she quit her acting career after a screenwriter asked her to sleep with him. 

According to Collins, she was just 15 when screenwriter Harry Ruskin told her he could have a role in a movie he’d written, but only if she slept with him. 

“I loved Harry,” Collins shared. “I had no father figure and no one to mentor me.”

When she refused his advances, Ruskin was furious and told her there were “dozens of girls” who would do it for a chance at the role. 

“I thought, ‘What have I said to mislead him? Was I dressed inappropriately? What have I done to cause this?’” the former child star explained. “I was just so startled. I just excused myself and left. The first door I came to was unlocked. It was a cleaning closet. And in those days, they didn’t have any lights inside. I locked the door and had a good cry.”

Collins told studio head Louis B. Mayer, who told the young star to “get used to it.” As the pair continued talking about it, Mayer told Collins, “You’ll never work again on this soundstage as long as you live.”

“I told him, ‘Mr. Mayer, that’s my heartfelt desire,’” Collins recalled. She never spoke to Ruskin again. 

“It was the single best decision of my life,” she said of her decision to quit acting. “It’s a rotten business. It was then, it is now. And it’s not going to change.”

Collins appeared in just one more movie, WEEKEND AT THE WALDORF, before retiring. The only reason she decided to be in the movie was because it starred her “buddies.”

“I made the film and I decided that this isn’t what I wanted to do,” she explained. “I made the right decision. I went out of this business. And that’s why I left. My mother never believed me. She believed I misunderstood Harry Ruskin. But his request was so succinctly phrased that it would be hard to misunderstand it. I spoke to other girls who were in films at the same time as I was. And they too had similar experiences. Their mothers didn’t believe them either.”

After leaving Hollywood, Collins went on to lead what she calls “a happy life.” She got married, lived in Paris and Mexico, and started a family of her own. 

“I hardly told anyone what happened to me. I was so ashamed, embarrassed, thinking I had caused it,” Collins shared. “Whenever someone wanted to interview me about the #MeToo movement, my response was, ‘no.’… [One writer] told me, ‘It’s important for you to tell your story because you stood up to Louis B. Mayer.’ I still refused… But I finally did. And I’m glad. I finally understand it wasn’t my fault.”