Alida Valli

  1. Lana Turner, The Three Musketeers, 1947.      While Lana was suspended for refusing Lady de  Winter, MGM began talks with the Italian  actress contracted to Gone With The Wind  producer David O Selznick. Turner threw in the towel and Her Ladyship was described by the New York Times as a “company-mannered Mae West – more glittering swordplay, more dazzling costumes, more colors or more of Miss Turner’s chest have never been seen in a picture than are shown in this one.”

  2. Hedy Lamarr, Samson and Delilah, 1948.   
    Cinemperor Cecil B DeMille’s 1935 plan had been had Henry Wilcoxon with Joan Crawford, Larraine Day, Dolores Del Rio, Paulette Goddard, Jane Greer or Miriam Hopkins.   Next in line, producer David O Selznick envisaged Kirk Douglas and Marlene Dietrich… By ’48, CB got serious.  He sought a mix of Vivien Leigh, Jean Simmons and “a generous touch of Lana Turner” from among… Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Rhonda Fleming (the Queen of Babylon, 1954), Ava Gardner, Greer Garson (Mrs Miniver!!), Susan Hayward (1951’s Bathsheba), Rita Hayworth (the future Salome), Jennifer Jones (St Bernadette in 1943), Patricia Neal, Maureen O’Hara, Nancy Olson (too demure), Jean Peters, Ruth Roman, Gail Russell, Ann Sheridan, Gene Tierney… even such surprises as comical LucIlle Ball (!) and song ‘n’ dancer Betty Hutton.  Plus the Dominican Maria Montez (perfect!), Italian Alida Valli and two Swedes: Viveca Lindfors and Marta Toren.  But CB had already fancied Lamarr for his unmade epic about the Jewish queen Esther (played by Joan Collins in 1960).  Here’s a Samson review signed Groucho Marx: “No picture can hold my interest where the leading man’s bust is larger than the leading lady’s!”

  3. Dorothy Lamour, The Greatest Show on Earth, 1951.     Three years before CB De Mille made his old dream of a circus film (and inspired a six-year-old Phoenix kid named Spielberg to make movies),  the Gone With The Wind producer David O Selznick planned risking $6m on a big top number named after the slogan of the Ringling Bros circus. The DOS line-up would have featured Joseph Cotten, Jennifer Jones, Louis Jourdan, Dorothy McGuire, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Shirley Temple and  Alida Valli – known as  just Valli, at the time.  Obviously the DeMille epic had a different script, but it’s safe to surmise  that the characters would have been much the same… trapeze stars, lion-tamer, elephant girl, circus boss.
  4. Danielle  Darrieux,  Five Fingers,  1952.    Producer David Selznick’s latest “new Garbo” from Italy never fared well  in Hollywood.  Once working in Paris,  Valli claimed she was scared of flying –  Alida means “flies li ke a bird” – and could not get to Fox in  time. Darrieux flew, instead, to be master spy James Mason’s countess…  originally offered to a pregnant Micheline Presle.
  5. Morgana  King, The Godfather,1971.


 Birth year: 1921Death year: 2006Other name: Casting Calls:  5