Growing Up Glamorous
charm and talent run in the family of hollywood playmate susan bernard
Just before this Christmas Playmate pictorial went to press, our yuletide miss called us from the Coast with the news that she'd won the ingenue lead in Stranger in Hollywood, a new dramatic film with a tentative title that doesn't describe Miss December at all: Susan Bernard's been an Angeleno for all of her 18 years and is the daughter of top Hollywood glamor photographer Bruno Bernard (Bernard of Hollywood) and actress-director Ruth Brande. "The house has always been filled with theater and movie people," Susan says, "and after I decided that acting was really for me, my parents encouraged me at every step."
Featured on dozens of puppy-and-little-girl calendars as a youngster, brunette and brown-eyed Sue has emerged from the traditional prepping of school dramatics, commercial modeling and professional dancing and acting lessons as a star a-borning. Acceptance in the talent program at the Film Industry Workshop at Columbia Studios followed Sue's first film role, a small part in a shot-on-location desert flick. Now she's alternating daytime work on Stranger with evening appearances in Friends and Romans, a play about a movie, at the Player's Ring, an unsquare L.A. theater in the round.
She caught our attention when she accompanied Bruno on a business trip to our Chicago offices -- the Bernard who works behind the camera has often shot for Playboy and, in fact, took the black-and-whites of Susan at home used here.
Miss December's private life makes a striking contrast to the image of an in-demand girl running from studio to stage. Even in the busy Bernard household, Susan's managed to establish a balcony retreat for work on oil portraits of people she likes, among them the dates who take her to her favorite beaches and the cozy restaurants she prefers to gaudier showbiz scenes. "Those are my special places," Susan says, "but I really don't care where we go, as long as I'm with someone I like" -- refreshing sentiments from the girl next door to stardom.
Photography by Mario Casilli and Bruno Bernard