Bonita Granville

  1. Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz,  1938.
  2. Jane Withers, Her First Beau, 1940. Columbia’s posters screamed: Love Begins At 16! For Jackie Cooper (from Paramount) and Withers (from Fox) instead of Granville, although she made the better transition from kid top “adult” star. On retiring in the 50s, she produced the Lassie TV series, 1959-1978.
  3. Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce, 1944.    Trying to grow up, Shirley Temple pushed herself fo rward at 16 to be Joan Crawford’s spoilt teenage daughter, Veda Pierce. Bonita Granville, Ann Rutherford, Martha Vickers and Virginia Weidler were just as keen.  But when Crawford (after a bunch of flops) agreed to test as Mildred, she turned it into a test of Blyth (also16) as Veda. They both won.  Blyth was almost a lone voice in Hollywood calling Crawford “the kindest, most helpful human being I’ve ever worked with. We remained friends for many years after the film. I never knew that other Joan Crawford that people wrote about.” This was Blyth’s finest hour – she should have won an Oscar like Crawford. For  her next 42 roles Blyth simply played sweet, pretty and safe.
  4. Anne Baxter, The Razor’s Edge, 1946.    Fox production guru Darryl F Zanuck dropped the 30s’ Nancy Drew after Anne pleaded to test. Her performance won over Zanuck and Oscar.
  5. Heather Sears,  The Story of  Esther Costello,  1956.     The ex-Nancy Drew reporter-detective was eager to portray the mute and blind UK heroine known – to her protector’s oily husband – as The Golden Virgin.  However,  the suits wisely wanted an unknown and, well, younger than Bonita’s 33.  Auteur Sam Fuller had tried to make the melo with Simmons, Joan Collins, Susan Strasberg, Natalie Wood. And Heather Sears, who won  the British Academy Award for Best Actress, was  21.   Granville later produced  the 1954 Lassie TV series with her millionaire husband Jack Wrather (he had produced some of her teenage roles) plus four Lassie tele-movies and 319 episodes of the 1959-1973 canine doings. 


 Birth year: 1923Death year: 1988Other name: Casting Calls:  5