Haynes, born Roberta Schack on Aug. 19, 1927, in Wichita Falls, Texas, was a well-traveled woman. She lived in Toronto as a girl, then moved to Los Angeles where she started acting in the late 1940s. She lived for a time in Italy with her husband, actor Larry Ward (Jonathan’s father), and spent 10 years living in Costa Rica.
In January, her son made one of her dreams come true: another trip. The family explored the streets of Havana, Cuba – which Ward said she also loved.
But her real love has always been the special place, Samoa.
Roberta Haynes, who starred opposite Gary Cooper in the South Pacific-set 1953 movie Return to Paradise, is returning to Paradise. Her family are bringing her ashes back for a Memorial Service at the Resort’s Chapel by the Sea on 23rd July. Following the service, her ashes will be deposited in the Memorial Fale that sits in front of the Chapel overlooking the beach that Roberta loved so much.
Roberta also starred in movies with other movie legends of the era including Roger Moore, Lee J Cobb, Rock Hudson, Humphrey Bogart, John Carradine and John Garfield. She was romantically linked to both Marlon Brando and Richard Burton and named one of the sexiest women alive by People magazine. In later years, she became an executive behind the camera at Twentieth Century Fox, but still appeared as Special Guest Star in TV dramas including Falcon Crest and Knott’s Landing.
Roberta’s ashes are being brought back by her son Jonathan and Roberta’s grandchildren. Jonathan and the family arrive in Samoa on 19th July ready for the service on the 23rd The Memorial service will be attended by many of the surviving members of the cast, some of whom will deliver part of the eulogy.
As well as the Memorial Fale, Return to Paradise is also setting up a permanent display of tributes to Ms. Haynes next to the Chapel. For many years to come, people will be able to visit the chapel, hear about the life of Roberta Haynes and visit her grave.
“We are so honoured to be welcoming Roberta back,” says Resort General Manager and Matriarch Ramona Su’a Pale, “Roberta made it clear to us when she visited us four years ago that her heart remained in Samoa and this was where she wanted her ashes to come to. She will always be Maeva to the people of Samoa, and we are looking forward to welcoming her home.”
The movie was filmed in Lefaga at what became known thereafter as Return to Paradise Beach which was renamed the island of Matareva. Ms. Haynes portrayed a native on the island who has a romance and then a child with Cooper’s drifter character. The movie was directed by Mark Robson and based on a novel by James Michener.