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Our Favorite Susan Blakley Movies and TV shows, Ranked

From 'Rich Man, Poor Man' to 'Lords of Flatbush', here’s Blakley at her best. 


Susan Blakely is a versatile actress whose career has spanned decades on both the big and small screens. With a talent for bringing characters to life and captivating audiences, Blakely has graced numerous memorable films and television shows.

She had done drama and tragedy, but it’s comedy that really inspired her to do what she does. She told Closer, “Comedy has always appealed to me. I think that is the germ of where my desire to act came from. It’s so much fun.”

Susan Blakely in 1986
Susan Blakely in 1986MediaPunch / Contributor/Getty

Blakely started out as a model, then made her screen debut in 1972 and has since alternated between film and TV. She starred in many great roles including The Lords of Flatbush (1974), as Julie Prescott in the TV miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man (1976), and as Frances Farmer in the TV film, Will There Really Be a Morning? (1983).

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Blakely is also very modest about her work. She told, “I recently ran into one of my favorite directors, Quentin Tarantino who was a huge fan of Lords of Flatbush, a film that I had made in 1973. We almost got into a tiff because although I think the film was great, I wish my work was better, that I had more experience. He was adamant that I was wrong and angry at me for putting down my performance. What a weird predicament. I didn’t want to disagree with a master and I certainly wasn’t fishing for compliments but I was as tenacious as he was and neither of us could let it go. Fortunately, since he also remembered every detail about my work in my next film, Report to the Commissioner, which I liked too, our “tiff” ended peacefully.”

Susan Blakely in 2024
Susan Blakely in 2024Amanda Edwards / Contributor/Getty

Here, we look back at our favorite Susan Blakley movies and TV shows.

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10. The Concorde… Airport ’79 (1979)

This airborne disaster movie is an action-packed thriller following the passengers and crew aboard a Concorde jetliner as they face various crises mid-flight. Susan Blakely stars as Maggie Whelan, a reporter.  While the film received mixed reviews when it came out, it remains a cult classic among fans of disaster cinema. Blakely starred opposite Alain Delon and Robert Wagner.

9. The Ted Kennedy Jr. Story (1986): Susan Blakely movies and TV shows

Craig T. Nelson stars as Edward Kennedy, Kimber Shoop stars as Ted Kennedy Jr. and Susan Blakely stars as Joan kennedy in this TV movie that explores the trauma and resiliences the Kennedy family goes through when their son, Ted Kennedy Jr loses his leg to cancer. Blakely shines as the empathic, yet strong-willed mother.

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8. The Way We Were (1973)

A romantic drama revolving around the tumultuous relationship between two individuals with vastly different political ideologies. Susan Blakely has a supporting role as Judianne, a college friend of the female protagonist, played by Barbra Streisand. The movie also stars Robert Redford. While Blakely’s role in The Way We Were is relatively small, her presence adds depth to the film’s exploration of love and idealism in the face of societal upheaval.

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7. Will There Really Be a Morning? (1983): Susan Blakely movies and TV shows

Susan Blakely stars as Frances Farmer in this biopic movie. Will There Really Be a Morning? follows Farmer through her Seattle childhood, college years, political involvement, show business success, doomed love affair with playwright Clifford Odets, and her eventual mental breakdown. Blakely delivers a moving tribute to the famed life of actress Frances Farmer. The movie also starred Lee Grant and Royal Dano.

6. Emily or Oscar (2022)

Emily or Oscar is a love letter to old Hollywood. A Hollywood director must choose between an Academy Award or the woman of his dreams. This romantic comedy stars Rene Aranda, Chris M. Allport, and Daniel Barbenel along Susan Blakely who plays the role of Beverly Hardin. This independent movie combines silent film references with scenes of Hollywood studio life, resulting in an endearing film.

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5. The Towering Inferno (1974): Susan Blakely movies and TV shows

A gripping disaster film depicting the harrowing events that unfold when a massive fire breaks out in a towering skyscraper. Susan Blakely plays Patty Simmons, the fiancée of the building’s architect. The film also starred Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. The Towering Inferno was a box office success and won three Academy Awards.

While recalling the film, Blakey said, “I got to hang out with William Holden, who was a wonderful man, and Fred Astaire, who was amazing. I was such a novice and so nervous, but he was just so humble and sweet. I also met my husband on that set, but we didn’t hit it off then. I remembered him when we met again later.”

Did you know? You may be surprised to find out that Blakley almost wasn’t in the film. She said, “I probably wouldn’t have said yes to Towering Inferno if I had read the script! But I was on another shoot, and my agent told me who else was doing it. I was just in love with Paul Newman. He was my biggest crush. So when I heard Paul Newman was in it, I said if he was doing it, I was doing it.”

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4. The Bunker (1981)

The Bunker was a made-for-TV-movie depicting the events surrounding Adolf Hitler’s last weeks in and around his underground bunker in Berlin.  Blakely plays Eva Braun, opposite Anthony Hopkins who won an Emmy award for his role as Hitler.

Blakely told that, “I don’t think I realized, when I took this role, what it was going to entail. Of course, I was elated to work opposite Anthony Hopkins. Working opposite Hitler was a different story.  As I started to research my role, it affected me more than I ever thought was possible. I was literally sobbing reading about the history.” 

3. Report to the Commissioner (1975): Susan Blakely movies and TV shows

This gritty crime thriller follows a rookie cop who becomes embroiled in a controversial police operation. Susan Blakely plays Patty Butler, a key figure in the unfolding investigation. Report to the Commissioner also starring Michael Moriarty and Yaphet Kotto. Blakely’s performance adds depth to the film’s exploration of moral ambiguity and police corruption.

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2. The Lords of Flatbush (1974)

A coming-of-age drama set in 1950s Brooklyn, following a group of teenage friends as they navigate love, friendship, and growing up. Susan Blakely appears as Jane Bradshaw, the romantic interest of one of the main characters. The show also starred Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler. Blakely’s role in The Lords of Flatbush showcases her early talent and versatility as an actress.

1. Rich Man, Poor Man (1976): Susan Blakely movies and TV shows

This groundbreaking television miniseries follows the lives of two brothers, Rudy and Tom Jordache, and their divergent paths from poverty to wealth. Susan Blakely portrays Julie Prescott, Rudy’s ambitious and determined love interest. The series also starred Peter Strauss and Nick Nolte. Blakely’s portrayal earned her both critical acclaim and a Golden Globe award. Her success came as a surprise. Blakely told Closer, I had never done any TV, nothing episodic, nothing. We had no idea it would get that big. I wasn’t paying much attention to fame, but all of a sudden I couldn’t go anywhere without being noticed.” 

She also noted that she got the part thanks to Carol Burnet saying “I had done a movie called Report to the Commissioner. Carol Burnett saw the film. She was friends with [producer] Harve Bennett, and she told him he should cast me. I never knew until later. Carol is an idol of mine, but she never told me because she’s so humble. She didn’t want to take credit.”

Did you know? Blakely turned down the sequel. She says “That was the stupidest thing I ever did. They hadn’t signed us, so we could literally have asked for anything. The heads of Universal and ABC kept saying, ‘Susie, blank check. What do you want?’ I said no, it wasn’t about the money. I wanted to do other things. But when you have that sort of success, you shouldn’t turn your back on it. It was just youthful ignorance and foolishness.”

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