Susan Cabot

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Susan Cabot
Susan Cabot, c. 1950
Harriet Pearl Shapiro

(1927-07-09)July 9, 1927
DiedDecember 10, 1986(1986-12-10) (aged 59)
Cause of deathHomicide
Resting place Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery
Years active1947–1970
Martin Sacker
(m. 1944;div. 1951)

Michael Roman
(m. 1968;div. 1983)

Susan Cabot (born Harriet Pearl Shapiro; July 9, 1927 – December 10, 1986) was an American film, stage, and television actress. She rose to prominence for her roles in a variety of Western films, including Tomahawk (1951), The Duel at Silver Creek (1952), and Gunsmoke (1953).


After severing her contract with Universal Pictures in the mid-1950s, Cabot returned to performing in theater in New York. She subsequently returned to Hollywood in the later part of the decade, and appeared in a series of films by director Roger Corman, such as Sorority Girl (1957), War of the Satellites , and Machine-Gun Kelly (both 1958). She made her final film appearance in Corman's horror feature, The Wasp Woman (1959).

Cabot spent the following two decades largely in seclusion, though she did appear in off-Broadway theatre in the early 1960s, and made a 1970 television appearance on the series Bracken's World . By the 1980s, Cabot was suffering from severe mental illness, including depression, suicidal thoughts, and irrational phobias.

On December 10, 1986, Cabot's only child, 22-year-old Timothy Roman, bludgeoned her to death in their Los Angeles home with a weightlifting bar after Cabot purportedly awoke in a panicked state and attacked him. Roman, who had dwarfism and suffered pituitary gland problems, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to three years' probation for his matricide.


1927–1946: Early life

Cabot was born Harriet Pearl Shapiro on July 9, 1927, to a Jewish family in Boston, Massachusetts. [1] She led an early life filled with turmoil; after her father abandoned their family, Cabot's mother Elizabeth was institutionalized, leaving Cabot orphaned. [1] She was subsequently raised in eight different foster homes, [2] and stated that she spent much of her childhood in the Bronx. [1] It was posthumously revealed that, while in foster care, Cabot suffered emotional and sexual abuse, which triggered intense post-traumatic stress disorder. [1]

Cabot attended high school in Manhattan, [2] and found employment as an illustrator of children's books. [2] She supplemented her income by working as a singer, performing at the Village Barn club in Manhattan. [2] She married her first husband, the artist Martin Sacker, on July 30, 1944, in Washington, DC, while still a minor. [3] Sacker was a childhood friend, and the marriage presented Cabot with an opportunity to leave foster care. [3]

1947–1959: Acting career

Cabot made her film debut in Twentieth Century Fox's film noir Kiss of Death (1947), which was filmed in New York, playing a bit part as a restaurant patron. [2] She was subsequently spotted performing at the Village Barn by a talent scout for Columbia Pictures, who cast her in On the Isle of Samoa (1950). [2] This role led to further Hollywood roles, with Cabot signing a contract with Universal Pictures. [2] Her first film with the studio was the 1951 Western Tomahawk . [2] The same year, Cabot divorced her husband, Sacker, and was subsequently romantically linked with King Hussein of Jordan for several years. [4]

Based on her performances in the On the Isle of Samoa and Tomahawk, Cabot appeared as a lead in a series of roles in similar Western and Arabian-themed films, such as The Battle at Apache Pass and The Duel at Silver Creek , and Son of Ali Baba (all 1952). [2] In 1953, she starred in a further two Westerns: Gunsmoke and Ride Clear of Diablo . [5]

Dissatisfied with her film offers, Cabot asked to be released from her contract in 1954. [2] She returned to New York, and resumed her stage career with a role in a Leonard Kantor-directed, Washington DC-based production of Harold Robbins' A Stone for Danny Fisher . [2] Cabot studied acting with Sanford Meisner in New York, [6] and continued to pursue a stage career, appearing in a short-lived run of the musical Shangri-La in Boston in 1959. [7]

Cabot returned to Los Angeles and resumed a film career in the latter part of the 1950s, appearing in a series of films for Roger Corman: Carnival Rock , Sorority Girl , The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (all 1957), War of the Satellites , and Machine-Gun Kelly (both 1958). [2] The same year, she had a lead role in the Western Fort Massacre , opposite Joel McCrea. [2] Cabot's final film role was in Corman's horror film The Wasp Woman (1959). [2] Speaking on her work with Corman, Cabot recalled it as "Totally mad. It was like a European movie," though she stated that Corman was "some kind of maverick... he's very bright and fast-thinking." [5]

1960–1986: Seclusion and later life

Cabot bore her only child, a son, in 1964. [8] In 1968, she married her second husband Michael Roman with whom she raised her son, Timothy Scott Roman, before again divorcing in 1983. [9]

In the last years of her life, Cabot suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts, and was prey to a wide range of irrational, powerful fears. She was under a licensed psychologist's care, but the psychologist found her so troubled and ill that the sessions became "emotionally draining." [10] Cabot became increasingly unable to care for herself; the interior of her home was littered with years of trash, and spoiled food lay everywhere. [10] In late 1986, Cabot's mental health deteriorated significantly. [10] Despite the squalor of the home's interior, Cabot still maintained an "adequate" income despite having retired from acting, largely due to real estate investments and her fascination with vintage cars, which she regularly acquired, restored, and resold. [11]


On December 10, 1986, Cabot's 22-year-old son, Timothy Scott Roman, beat her to death in her home in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles, with a weightlifting bar. [9] He was charged with second-degree murder. [12]

At trial, Roman testified that his mother had awakened him while screaming, not recognizing him, and calling for her mother, Elizabeth. When he attempted to call emergency services, she attacked him with a barbell bar and a scalpel. Roman seized the bar from her and beat her repeatedly on the head. [10]

He then hid the bar and scalpel, and told police that a man in a ninja mask had killed his mother (believing no one would believe his story about her mental illness). Roman's defense attorneys claimed their client's aggressive reaction to his mother's attack was due to the drugs he took to counteract his dwarfism and pituitary gland problems [10] as part of treatments for his Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. [13]

At the close of the trial, prosecutors changed the charge to involuntary manslaughter, [12] as no evidence had been presented at trial to support premeditation (which was required for a murder conviction). Superior Court Judge Darlene E. Schempp deliberated 10 minutes, and then convicted Roman of involuntary manslaughter. Roman, who had already spent 2+12 years in jail, [10] was sentenced to three years' probation on November 28, 1989. [12]



1947 Kiss of Death Restaurant extraUncredited [2]
1950 On the Isle of Samoa Moana [2]
1951 The Enforcer Nina LombardoUncredited
Alternative title: Murder, Inc.
1951 Tomahawk MonahseetahAlternative title: Battle of Powder River
1951 The Prince Who Was a Thief GirlUncredited
1951 Flame of Araby ClioAlternative title: Flame of the Desert
1952 The Battle at Apache Pass Nona [2]
1952 The Duel at Silver Creek Jane "Dusty" FargoAlternative title: Claim Jumpers [2]
1952 Son of Ali Baba Tala [2]
1953 Gunsmoke Rita SaxonAlternative titles: A Man's Country; Roughshod [2]
1954 Ride Clear of Diablo Laurie KenyonAlternative title: The Breckenridge Story [2]
1957 Carnival Rock Natalie Cook [14]
1957 Sorority Girl Sabra TannerAlternate titles: The Bad One; Sorority House [15]
1957 The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent EngerAlternative titles: Undersea Monster; Viking Women [15]
1958 War of the Satellites Sybil Carrington [16]
1958 Machine Gun Kelly Florence "Flo" Becker [17]
1958 Fort Massacre Piute Girl
1959 Surrender - Hell! Delia GuerreroAlternative titles: Blackburn's Guerrillas; Blackburn's Headhunters
1959 The Wasp Woman Janice StarlinAlternative titles: The Bee Girl; Insect Woman [16]


1958–1959 Have Gun - Will Travel Angela
Becky Carver
2 episodes
1970 Bracken's World HenriettaEpisode: "One, Two, Three... Cry"

Stage credits

1954 A Stone for Danny Fisher National Theatre, Washington, D.C. [6]
1955 Much Ado About Nothing Brattle Theatre [6]
1955 The Two Gentlemen of Verona Neighborhood Playhouse [6]
1956 Shangri-La Lo-Tsen Shubert Theatre, Boston [18]
1956The Champagne ComplexMyrtle Beach Playhouse, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina [19]
1956Knickerbocker HolidayLong Beach Playhouse, Long Island; Triple Cities Theatre, Binghamton [20]
1962Intimate RelationsMadeleine Mermaid Theatre [22]

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  21. "'Knickerbocker Holiday' Ends Season Here". Press & Sun Bulletin . Binghamton, New York. August 27, 1956. p. 3 via
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