Thursday, October 24, 2013

Siamese, If You Don't Please

Dorothy Dandridge in Tarzan's Peril (RKO, 1951)
"Scuttlebutt from Movieland has it that 20th Century Fox wants Dorothy Dandridge for The King and I, and will blow up the Tuptim role to starring size." -- Dorothy Kilgallen's column, May 7, 1955

"Following her current engagement at Lake Tahoe, Dorothy Dandridge will head back to Hollywood for her stint in The King and I, which will keep her busy until the end of the year..." -- Izzy Rowe's column, August 20, 1955

Dorothy Dandridge at The Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York, April 11, 1955
"Because Dorothy Dandridge missed seeing The King and I on Broadway, Walter Lang (who will direct the screen version) had her fly to Toronto to catch a road performance of the musical..." -- Dorothy Kilgallen's column, September 1, 1955

Dorothy Dandridge in Tamango (CEI Incom, 1958)
"Dorothy Dandridge's exit from The King and I doesn't mean an exit from the Fox lot. She's now being considered for Under Two Flags and The Blue Angel." -- Aline Mosby's column, October 4, 1955

"In order to assure Dorothy Dandridge's availability for a lavish new musical starring vehicle scheduled to roll in January, 20th Century Fox studio has shifted her film slate and has released her from a co-starring role with Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in The King and I...Although the title has not yet been announced, unofficial word at the studio is that it will be either The Blue Angel or Under Two Flags." -- The Pittsburgh Courier, October 8, 1955

May Britt and Curd Jürgens in The Blue Angel (20th Century Fox, 1959)
Curd Jürgens and Dorothy Dandridge in Tamango (CEI Incom, 1958)

"Miss Half-Caste -- Rita Moreno -- is Miss High Caste these days. She's playing Tuptim in the film musical version of The King and I and beaming over the switch from wildcat to nobility: 'It's a relief not to be gnashing my teeth and flaring my nostrils for a change.' Rita landed the film after Dorothy Dandridge walked out of the role." -- Erskine Johnson's column, November 19, 1955
"I haven't been able to get a clear reason from Dorothy Dandridge on her sudden decision to drop out of The King and I, but it is my candid opinion that the lovely first lady of the screen may have passed up one of the best roles in her career...The role of Tuptim in King (which was to have been played by Dorothy) is one of the highlights in what may well be a milestone in movie making." -- Sonny Murrain's column, January 28, 1956

Rita Moreno in The King and I (20th Century Fox, 1956)
"Time is just filled with contrasts -- last year this time, Dorothy Dandridge was the big deal, a nominee for an Academy Award [for Carmen Jones]. This year the story is sad and about the mediocrity of her nightclub act...Dandridge shouldn't even be in nightclubs, but making pictures since coming so close to winning an Oscar." -- Izzy Rowe's column, March 31, 1956

Dorothy Dandridge onstage at The Riviera, Las Vegas, December 15, 1955
"Surprising that Dorothy Dandridge has not made a film since Carmen Jones, in which she was so successful..." -- Louella Parsons' column, April 2, 1956
"This is how Rita Moreno won the role of Tuptim in the movie The King and I. Dorothy Dandridge had been signed for the part. The studio began to screen test actors to play her lover, Lun Tha. Miss Dandridge's commitments made it impossible for her to do these tests..." -- Leonard Lyon's column, May 1, 1956

Rita Moreno and Carlos Rivas in The King and I (20th Century Fox, 1956)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Forever And A Day

Gene Tierney in Dragonwyck (20th Century Fox, 1946)
"The most exciting news is that Gene Tierney is to have the lead in Forever Amber at 20th. I read the book on the way to New York. 20th will have to do a lot of censoring..." -- Louella Parsons' column, November 28, 1944

"Although the start of Forever Amber at 20th Century Fox is quite some time away, the studio's costume department has already started to work on its end of the picture, and from this source comes the information that the wardrobe for the ambitious and romantic heroine is being made to fit Gene Tierney." -- Fred Stanley, The New York Times, December 3, 1944

"Gene Tierney is practically a sure bet to play Amber in Forever Amber..." -- Sheila Graham's column, October 21, 1945

Gene Tierney in Heaven Can Wait (20th Century Fox, 1943)
"Peggy Cummins, the British babe, is the 36th tested by 20th Century Fox for the title role of the girl with the one-track mind in Forever Amber. About 60 will be tried out before a selection is made. Producer William Perlberg says he wants an unknown for the role, since the picture obviously will make the girl a star..." -- Bob Thomas' column, October 29, 1945

Peggy Cummins, 20th Century Fox makeup and hairstyle test
"Miss Peggy Cummins, 19, five feet tall, blond, delicately pretty and chalky-faced, was carrying a thick script under her arm. The title of the script was obliterated with black pencil, but Page 1 started off with (we practically had to twist her arm to get a peek) 'Amber looks into a mirror...' But Peggy would confess to nothing except that a 20th Century Fox talent scout saw her on the London stage and shipped her off, a month ago, to Hollywood for 'tests.'" -- Erskine Johnson's column, November 16, 1945

"Gene Tierney Wants Lead In Movie Forever Amber... Miss Tierney said, 'I'd dye my hair sky blue or pink to play Amber.'" -- Earl Wilson's column, December 6, 1945

Gene Tierney in A Bell For Adano (20th Century Fox, 1945)
"Am nearly as sure as death and taxes that next year at this time I won't have to be explaining to you who Peggy Cummins is because her name will be known the length and breadth of the land...As I was the first to tell my readers that Vivien Leigh was chosen as Scarlett, I'll tell you now -- Peggy will play Amber." -- Louella Parsons' column, December 30, 1945

"A blonde, Welsh-born Irish girl of 19 named Peggy Cummins will play the lead in the film version of Forever Amber...Peggy's success as the uninhibited Amber will be a tribute to her acting ability...She has a small, elfin face and appears less like Amber than Alice in Wonderland..." -- Associated Press, January 14, 1946

Peggy Cummins, 1944
"When Peggy Cummins was selected to play the title role in Forever Amber, she undoubtedly felt herself a very lucky girl...But I wonder if this young English girl is so lucky after all?...The title role in Forever Amber is a tremendous responsibility, particularly for an unknown actress. Miss Cummins will be fortunate, indeed, if the release of the film doesn't make her forever unknown." -- Jimmy Fidler's column, February 21, 1946

Peggy Cummins in the aborted version of Forever Amber (20th Century Fox, unreleased)
"20th Century Fox has suspended filming of Forever Amber, because it has 'failed to measure up to standards,' and Peggy Cummins may be out as the star of the picture..." -- United Press, May 1, 1946

"Peggy Cummins was reported to be ill at her home following the climax of one of the weirdest and most costly producing debacles in Hollywood history...It was disclosed by studio sources that, when the script is rewritten and a new start made on the picture, Miss Cummins will be replaced by another actress..." -- Harold Heffernan, North American Newspaper Alliance, May 1, 1946

"Don't count Peggy Cummins out of Forever Amber yet...'The picture will be started again in September,' she said, 'and as far as I know, I am going to play Amber.' This despite the fact that Gene Tierney, Vivien Leigh, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner and others have been rumored for the role." -- Bob Thomas' column, July 11, 1946

Gene Tierney in Dragonwyck (20th Century Fox, 1946)
Vivien Leigh in That Hamilton Woman (United Artists,1941)
Susan Hayward in Reap the Wild Wind (Paramount, 1942)
Lana Turner in Honky Tonk (MGM, 1941)
"Linda Darnell today replaced Peggy Cummins in the title role in Forever Amber...After years of playing demure leads, [Darnell] rebelled and asked for stronger roles, even if they meant she would not get top billing. Her campaign finally resulted in her selection for the part of Amber." -- United Press, July 24, 1946

Linda Darnell in Hangover Square (20th Century Fox, 1945)
"First big picture to feel the effects of the technicians' surprise walkout would have to be, of course, none but your old friend, much-harrassed Forever Amber. This much-jinxed affair, called off after its first 35 day start with Peggy Cummins and a cost close to $500,000 may roll up a mishap record of some sort...They say Linda Darnell, with her hair all tinted blonde for Amber, is growing pretty fat while waiting around." -- Harold Heffernan, North American Newspaper Alliance, November 2, 1946

Costume test for Forever Amber (20th Century Fox, 1947)
"The troubles that have beset the filming of Forever Amber apparently aren't over. Linda Darnell, who succeeded Peggy Cummins in the title role, went to bed yesterday with a cold and a temperature of 101. The studio announced the production was off until her return." -- Associated Press, November 12, 1946

Linda Darnell in Forever Amber (20th Century Fox, 1947)
"'I've got news for you, honey. They've taken all the sex out of Forever Amber,' Linda Darnell told me just before she boarded a plane for three month vacation...'Really, honey,' she said, '[the censors] wouldn't let me do a thing. I didn't even see a bedroom, let alone a bed. They raised the neckline of all my dresses a couple of inches. The other girls in the picture show more than I do. That shadow you'll see following me around in the picture was made by a censor.'" -- Erskine Johnson's column, May 24, 1947

Thank you, joel65913, for the suggestion!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Picture This

"Hedy Lamarr said it 'is hardly possible' that she was shoplifting in a department store when she was arrested on Thursday night...The arrest came as the six-times divorced actress was preparing for her largest film role in some time. She will co-star with Don Ameche and Martha Hyer in an Embassy release, Picture Mommy Dead. 'This unfortunate happening will make no difference in our plans,' said producer Bert I. Gordon. 'I'm behind her 100 percent.'" -- The Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1966
Hedy Lamarr leaves the Los Angeles jailhouse after being released on bail, January 29, 1966
"Hedy Lamarr was fired today from her new motion picture by producer Bert I. Gordon...A limousine was dispatched by Gordon Wednesday to pick up the star and was told by the housekeeper that the actress entered Westwood Hospital...Gordon consulted with Embassy Pictures Corporation, and was told that if he couldn't guarantee that she would not suffer a relapse, he would have to replace her." -- United Press International, February 3, 1966
Hedy Lamarr at a press conference to discuss her arrest, January 30, 1966
"'I was so tired from sleeping only one hour in four days. I just sort of collapsed for a day. That's human, isn't it?' Thus Hedy Lamarr explained her absence from work, which resulted in her firing Thursday from her first starring role in fifteen years. It was not, said producer Bert I. Gordon, because of her arrest last week on suspicion of shoplifting $86 in goods from a department store." -- Associated Press, February 4, 1966
Hedy Lamarr, with son Anthony Loder, during her shoplifting trial, February 21, 1966
"Hedy Lamarr is not lying down and playing dead, even if she was replaced by Zsa Zsa Gabor in Picture Mommy Dead..." -- Sheila Graham's column, February 27, 1966
Zsa Zsa Gabor in Picture Mommy Dead (Embassy, 1966)
"Saying she was dropped from a movie role without cause, Hedy Lamarr has sued the producer and the company making the picture...Miss Lamarr was discharged after she had been arrested on a shoplifting charge in Los Angeles for which she was acquitted." -- Associated Press, December 18, 1966

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Walk On The Wild Side

Dana Andrews, Vivien Leigh and Peter Finch prepare to leave London to film on location in Ceylon, January 26, 1953
"Vivien Leigh is in Hollywood to complete her role in Elephant Walk, for which exteriors were filmed in Ceylon. When I saw her on the set, she was happily poring over a 10-page handwritten letter from her husband, Laurence Olivier..." -- Bob Thomas' column, March 6, 1953

"Vivien Leigh is dropping out of the movie Elephant Walk, and will return to England...Her studio said yesterday she was quitting the picture because of an acute nervous breakdown." -- Associated Press, March 18, 1953

Covered by a sheet, Vivien Leigh is carried aboard a plane on a stretcher, following her breakdown in Los Angeles, March 18, 1953
"If you want to take pictures of Miss Leigh, please don't get too close to her. I would appreciate it if none of you attempted to question her. She is ill. She might get frightened." -- Laurence Olivier to the assemblage of press meeting their airplane, March 19, 1953

"Screen star Vivien Leigh, hysterical when she boarded a plane in New York yesterday, stepped blithely out of it today, smiling happily...Somewhere over the Atlantic, she had made a remarkable -- if only temporary -- recovery from a nervous breakdown...Weeping hysterically, Miss Leigh had been put on the plane in New York's Idewild International Airport yesterday by Laurence Olivier and their friend, Danny Kaye..." -- Robert Musel for the United Press, March 20, 1953

Original wire photo caption: "3/19/53...Smiling, though obviously ill, actress Vivien Leigh is pictured with husband Sir Laurence Olivier on arrival in New York today from Los Angeles, en route to London. Suffering from a 'complete nervous breakdown,' the actress was carried into her plane last night on a stretcher."
"There will be two stars playing the same role now that Liz Taylor is in and Vivien Leigh is out of Elephant Walk...The studio will use many of Vivien's long shots, filmed in India." -- Erskine Johnson's column, March 31, 1953

"Elizabeth Taylor's poodle haircut was a real headache when she suddenly replaced Vivien Leigh in Elephant Walk. She had to have longer locks to match up with the Ceylon long shots of Vivien. She'll virtually be wearing a wig. Also, she is heavier than Vivien..." -- Harrison Carroll's column, March 31, 1953

"Elizabeth Taylor, according to producer Irving Ascher, is just right in all three dimensions -- bust, waist and hips -- for the camera in Elephant Walk. She has lost 30 pounds..." -- Erskine Johnson's column, May 9, 1953

Elizabeth Taylor in Elephant Walk (Paramount, 1954)
"If bad beginnings make for good endings, Elephant Walk should be the best picture of all time. Elizabeth Taylor has just one more day of shooting to finish, but the doctors don't know when she will be able to leave the hospital. The bit of flint that lodged in her eye during a storm scene on the set was rusty. The injury is not only very painful, but her face is badly swollen." -- Louella Parsons' column, May 14, 1953

"Elizabeth Taylor, recovered from an eye operation, revealed today she nearly lost the sight of one of her famous orbs...'You can still see the sear -- a fraction from the retina. If it had been a hair's width to the right, I wouldn't be able to see.'" -- Aline Mosby's column, June 5, 1953

Elizabeth Taylor in Elephant Walk (Paramount, 1954)
"You mustn't blame the elephants...I hope Elizabeth Taylor is very good in the part." -- Vivien Leigh to the United Press, July 18, 1953

Elizabeth Taylor in Elephant Walk (Paramount, 1954)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Casting Couch... currently being occupied, but we shall re-commence with our "role play" casting series very shortly. Our professional life just became unexpectedly busy, but fear not, we have more behind-the-scenes gossip and trivia to share, culminating in a marvelous "What might have been...?" scenario thoughtfully submitted by one of our readers. There will actually be several more posts based on suggestions from you wonderful people out there in the dark, so keep the ideas coming! And thank you to all who have participated in the comments; the greatest fun of this series has been hearing everyone's thoughts and opinions on the subject. We love you, darlings!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dear Joan

Anne Bancroft in The Turning Point (20th Century Fox, 1977)
"Producer Irwin Yablans is planning a film based on Mommie Dearest, the title of Christina Crawford's controversial recounting of life with her adoptive mother. Word is that the search is already on for the actress to play Joan Crawford, and that Anne Bancroft is the producer's first choice." -- Robin Sloan Adam's column, August 30, 1978

Joan Crawford by John Engstead, 1963
"As far as Mommie Dearest is concerned, Anne plans to start production this summer. She considers the Joan part a real challenge despite the feelings of some in show business that Christina Crawford's book about her mother was the height of poor taste." -- Robin Adams Sloan's column, January 25, 1979

"Anne Bancroft's perception of the Joan Crawford role in the film version of the best-seller Mommie Dearest would make it a better film. That's the word from insiders. Anne is convinced that the dynamics of Miss Crawford's personality are far more dramatic and compelling than a chronicling of assorted child abuses. Thus the film would present Miss Crawford in a more favorable light..." -- Robin Adams Sloan's column, February 25, 1980

Joan Crawford in Harriet Craig (Columbia, 1950)
"Anne Bancroft is not giving second thoughts to [Mommie Dearest] because she is out of it. Disagreement was reached with producer Frank Yablans and director Frank Perry, who weren't calling Anne 'dearest' when they finally had enough of her demands for script and production changes..." -- Robin Adams Sloan's column, December 16, 1980

Anne Bancroft in 7 Women (MGM, 1966)
"The big screen translation of Christina Crawford's tale of childhood horror gets under way January 19, after countless script revisions and with Faye Dunaway replacing Anne Bancroft in the lead...Director Frank Perry explains the way the story line has finally evolved, what we'll see is 'a very sympathetic view of would hardly be respectful to be less than respectful of her memory.'" -- Noreen Marcus' column, January 14, 1981

"The movie industry is still buzzing about the replacement of Anne Bancroft by Faye Dunaway to play the Joan Crawford role in Mommie Dearest. While Miss Bancroft may have been difficult and demanding, many Hollywood insiders still feel she was by far the better choice...Dunaway is considered by some as too bland and non defined a personality..." -- Robin Adams Sloan's column, January 22, 1981

Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest (Paramount, 1981)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Devil's Work

"I could tell by the way he acted that Marty Ransohoff, the producer of Eye of the Devil, love with [Kim Novak]. Kim refused to be under his control and had just run off and married Richard Johnson, her co-star in her previous film. Marty suddenly canceled all of the expensive costumes I had designed. He told me, 'Take her to the May Company [a low-priced department store] and get her some clothes off the rack.'" -- Costume designer Vicky Tiel

Kim Novak in Kiss Me Stupid (MGM, 1964)
"I can't recall what Marty said to upset Kim, or if it justified her reaction, but I have an indelible vision of her stubbing out a cigarette in his one good eye..." -- Co-star David Hemmings

"Kim Novak's back injury has forced the suspension of shooting on her current movie...The $3,000,000 production was only a few days from completion...Miss Novak said she injured her back in a riding accident while on location shooting for the movie...Reports circulated that MGM is looking for a replacement for Miss Novak." -- Associated Press, November 26, 1965

"Deborah Kerr is to take over the role that Kim Novak was unable to complete in the $3 million film Eye of the Devil..." -- Associated Press, November 29, 1965

"I hoped they might be able to suspend production until I was well enough to return, but it seems that [co-star] David Niven and [director] Lee Thompson have commitments that make that impossible..." -- Kim Novak to the Associated Press, December 14, 1965

"A horrid lady..." -- David Niven's comment about Kim Novak in a letter to a friend

Julie Andrews [the producers' original choice to replace Novak] in Star! (20th Century Fox, 1968)
Deborah Kerr in Eye of the Devil (MGM, 1966)