Who Was the Star of the Movie I Want to Live?

I Want to Live is a 1958 biographical film based on the life of Barbara Graham, one of the few women to be executed in the gas chamber in California. The movie was directed by Robert Wise and starred Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham.

The Life of Barbara Graham

Barbara Graham was born on June 26, 1923, in Oakland, California. She had a troubled childhood and was often in trouble with the law.

She dropped out of school at an early age and started working as a prostitute. In 1945, she married Henry Graham, who was also involved in criminal activities.

In 1953, Barbara was convicted of murdering Mabel Monahan, an elderly widow whom she had befriended. She was sentenced to death and became the third woman to be executed in California’s gas chamber.

The Movie Plot

The movie I Want to Live tells the story of Barbara’s life leading up to her execution. It portrays her as a victim of circumstance who was wrongly accused and convicted. The film shows how she became involved with criminals like Emmett Perkins and how her association with them led to her downfall.

Susan Hayward’s portrayal of Barbara Graham is considered one of her best performances. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the movie.

The Controversy

While the movie I Want to Live was a critical success and received several awards, it also sparked controversy. Many people felt that the film portrayed Barbara Graham as innocent when there were doubts about her involvement in the murder.

The real-life case was also highly controversial due to issues with evidence and witness testimony. Some people believed that Barbara Graham did not receive a fair trial and that she may have been wrongly convicted.


In conclusion, I Want to Live is a powerful movie that tells the tragic story of Barbara Graham. While there is controversy surrounding the accuracy of the film’s portrayal of her life and convictions, it remains a significant work in the genre of biographical films. Susan Hayward’s performance as Barbara Graham is unforgettable and showcases her talent as an actress.