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To support herself she'd work as a secretary for the drama department, as well as cleaning apartments.
On the side, she did a bit of modelling, once appearing in a brochure for the soon-to-be infamous Watergate Hotel. At college she was still a skinny one, struggling to raise her weight over 100 pounds, and of course she was in possession of those soon-to-be famous breasts. For a laugh, though she had no interest in an acting career, she took part in a freshman show by the drama department and caught the eye of Chris Sarandon, a graduate student, four year her senior. He'd already featured in a rock band that had toured with Bobby Darin and Gene Vincent and was now taking a masters degree in theatre. He played a huge part in my decision to become an actress".
As well as the second Kennedy assassination, and riots and demonstrations in Paris, London and Mexico, 1968 had seen the Democratic convention disrupted by youthful protestors.
Film producers, keen to tap into this new youth market (they'd be even keener after the next year's smash hit, Easy Rider), began to make moves.
She'd grow up, though, some 30 miles to the south-west, in Edison, New Jersey, the oldest of nine children born to Catholics Phillip Leslie Tomalin and his wife Lenora Marie Criscione, giving Susan a combustible genetic mix of Welsh and Italian.
She would learn how much is possible from her father, who'd been a big band singer before becoming a TV producer and then an advertising executive.
Deciding that New York was the place he'd best hone his thespian talents, he went seeking an agent, taking his wife with him as someone to act against in the audition.
They were shocked when the agent decided to take them both on. And there was more good fortune to come in the scoring of her first feature role.
She was a good pupil, though one nun famously noted that she had "an overabundance of original sin".Susan would change her major from English to Drama and she and Chris would move in together.