Akim Tamiroff

  1. Andy Devine, Men With Wings, 1937.   Change of Joe Gibbs – hey, someone had to provide the laughs – in another aviation thriller from one of the titular kind – the 1928 Wings director and WW1 daredevil, Wild Bill Wellman.
  2. Gene Lockhart, Hotel Imperial, 1938.      Tamiroff just disappeared during a painful production. It began in January ’36 with Charles Boyer and Marlene Dietrich. She never got on with director Henry Hathaway. Shooting stopped. Everything started over with Margaret Sullavan – until breaking an arm. Enter: Italy’s Isa Miranda.
  3. Morris Ankrum, The Round Up, 1940.       Change of Parenthesis in the Western quickie. (In Pat Garret and Billy The Kid, 1972, Bob Dyan was an equally mysterious… Alias). Anrkum, ex-lawyer and economics professor before turning actor, had 275 screens roles between 1932-1965 including most of the Hopalong Cassidy series and, according to IMDB, more science fiction movis than any other Hollywood actor.
  4. Sheldon Leonard, Buy Me That Town, 1940.   Racketeer Chink Morgan is drafted – while his ex-lieutenant (Lloyd Nolan) turns Connecticut’s Middle Village – unincorporated and outside of Federal, State and City laws – into a safe haven for crooks… who can afford it. Nolan’s guys were called Crusher, Fingers and Ziggy. So you this came from Damon Runyon.
  5. Alexander Granach, Three Russian Girls, 1943.    In the (early) frame for Russian Army Major Braginski in the US re-make of the 1941 Russian film, The Girl From Leningrad – source of the new version’s WWII battle sequences.
  6. Alexander Granach, Voice in the Wind, 1943 .   Unable to spring Tamiroff loose from Paramount to partner Francis Lederer, producers Arthur Ripley and Rudolph Monter found a lookalike in Granach. Tamiroff then joined Lederer in his other ’43 gig, The Bridge of San Luis Rey.
  7. Thomas Gomez, Kim, 1950.      Fourth time lucky for MGM’s desire to film the Rudyard Kipling classic 1900 adventure  about Kimball O”Hara,the orphaned  son of a British soldier  in the 1886 India under British rule. Kim posed as a Hindi beggar boy to help the UK Secret Service spy on Russian agitators.  Irving Thalberg won the rights for MGM in 1934 and a year later, the ex-Little Lord Fauntelroy, Freddie Bartholomew was  selected opposite  Lionel Barrymore as his Indian mentor, Mahbub Ali the Red Beard, in 1935.  The project was shelved for another Kipling tale, Captains Courageous, with Spencer Tracy and young Freddie – announced as Kim again in 1937, opposite Robert Taylor as Red Beard.  After various delays Mickey Rooney (like who else) was the 1942 hero  in a typically Metro all-stars  line-up of John Carradine, Laird Cregar, Cedric Hardwicke, Basil Rathbone, George Sanders, Akim Tamiroff and Conrad Veidt  WWII killed that as the script was too pro-British Empire and anti-Russia. Finally, MGM’s Boy With Green Hair, Dean Stockwell,  was Kim opposite  (a way too old and hardly Indian)  Errol Flynn. He quit King Solomon’s Mines to be Red Beard, because he didn’t fancy living  in a tent in Africa, while he had a hotel in Lucknow…  where Stockwell was doubled by a local  kid.
  8. Alfie Bass, The Fearless Vampire Killers, 1967.   Change of character actors. Bethnal Green’s Alfie made 95 screen roles  compared to  the Russian  (Georgia) born Tamiroff’s 153!
  9. Juan Carlos Ordonez (voice), Don Quijote de Orson Welles (US: Don Quixote), 1992.       When he tested Mischa Auer as Quixote in 1955, the Welles regular Tamiroff, was the obvious Sancho Panza.  When shooting finally began in Mexico, 1957, Tamiroff was still on board while Auer was succeeded by Francisco Reiguera.  By the time the film was rolling anew in the 60s, another Spanish actor was drafted in to voice Sancho  They were all dead when Welles’ assistant, director the notorious Spanish shlockmeister Jesus (or Jess) Franco, released this cut of some (not all) of the rushes, seven years after Orson’s death. (This explains why Tamiroff fell into Franco’s garbage: Marquis de Sade: Justine, 1969).

 Birth year: 1899Death year: 1972Other name: Casting Calls:  10