‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ star Susan Blakely Said One Comedy Legend Helped Her During Her Career

by Matthew Memrick

Longtime model and “Rich Man, Poor Man” star Susan Blakely worked in Hollywood for years, but that role came with help from a comedic legend.

The 73-year-old Blakely said legendary actress Carol Burnett put a word in for her after watching the 1975 film “Report to the Commissioner.” Burnett was friends with producer Harve Bennett and urged Bennett to cast the woman.

IMDb says Susan Blakely stars as NYC police officer Patty “Chicklet” Butler. Butler works undercover to investigate a drug-trafficking ring run by a crook named Thomas “Stick” Henderson. Butler plays the live-in girlfriend of Henderson. A rookie cop (Law & Order alum Michael Moriarty) investigates Butler, and she ends up with a fatal gunshot wound with a cover-up involving the police. Yaphet Kotto, Hector Elizondo, and Richard Gere (in his first movie) also star. 

It sounds like something I’d check out for free.

“I never knew until later (about Burnett’s help),” Blakely told Fox News. “Carol is an idol of mine, but she never told me because she’s so humble. She didn’t want to take credit.”

Susan Blakely Made A Name For Herself With Show

Don’t forget Susan Blakely turned heads with her role in 1974’s “The Towering Inferno” too.

But Carol Burnett’s recommendation went a long way. Soon, the “Rich Man, Poor Man” actress began to stand out in Hollywood. She earned Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for her work as “Julie Prescott” on the TV miniseries back in 1976. The show was so good it earned four Emmys and 23 nominations.

Susan Blakely, Peter Strauss, and Nick Nolte blew up when the show gained fame and fans.

The actress had one regret. She told Closer Weekly said her decision to pass on “Rich Man, Poor Man – Book II” was the “stupidest thing” she ever did.

“They hadn’t signed us [for the sequel], so we could literally have asked for anything,” she told the magazine. “The heads of Universal and ABC kept saying, ‘Susie, blank check. What do you want?’”

Blakely responded with a no, saying she “wanted to do other things.” The actress chalked up “youthful ignorance” to make her break up the successful formula.

Blakely’s “Towering Inferno” Fun

The actress starred in the Oscar-winning film with so many big names. She worked with Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, William Holden, Fred Astaire, and Faye Dunaway in the 1974 film. 

However, she admits to taking the role because of one famous star.

“I was just in love with Paul Newman,” she told Closer Weekly. “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.”

The actress had a bunch of nerves working on the film, but she said the cast soon helped her get over them.