Cornel Wilde


  1. Van Johnson, Dr Gillespie’s New Assistant, 1942.      MGM dropped Lew Ayres as Dr Kildare when he announced he was a conscientious objector to WWII. The studio – and Lionel Barrymore’s Dr Gillespie – immediately started hunting a new assistant… from Wilde, Dana Andrews, Rod Cameron,  Charles Drake. And, ironically,  Larry Parks – a 50s’ blacklist victim, as much as poor Ayres was in the 40s. In all, Johnson made four films as  Dr Red Adams to close the series – but the much trumpeted Dr Gillespie’s Lady Doctor never happened.
  2. Victor Mature, Moss Rose, 1946.     In a September 19 memo to director Gregory Ratoff, head Fox Darryl Zanuck suggested Wilde and Peggy Cummins as the romantic leads. She won; he lost.
  3. Glenn Langan, Margie,1946.   Strange, but true.  Wilde refused to play be the male lead – and was put on immediate suspension by Fox. But not June Haver when she ran from being Maybelle Tenor.  (In 1957, Langan became Lieutenant-Colponel Glenn Manning, aka… The Amazing Colossal Man).
  4. Tyrone Power, That Wonderful Urge, 1947.    Back from WWII, Tyrone Power wanted grittier roles than  his old swashbucklers. So what did Fox do  but shove him in a re-make of his old 1936 movie, Love Is News. Only difference, his support players, Loretta Young and George Sanders were now Gene Tierney and Reginald Gardiner.
  5. Richard Conte,  Whirlpool, 1948.     In April 1946, an Hollywood Reporter said William Eythe would star in Otto Preminger’s psychological film-noir. Two months later, the daily noted Eythe was dropped in favour of Cornel Wilde. But Conte made the movie! With Gene Tierney. The New York Times called the whole exercise… flapdoodle.
  6. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, The Lady in Ermine, 1948.   Wilde and the 13-year older  Charles Boyer were considered by director Ernst Lubitsch  for Hungarian Colonel Ladislas Karolyi Teglas conquering Countess Betty Grable’s Bergamo and falling for her  and the ghost of  great-great-grandmother, Countess Francesca… leading to Betty’s daffy song,  Ooo, What I’ll Do to that Wild Hungarian. Wilde, ex-Kornel Lajos Weisz,was Hungarian by birth. Tragically, Lubitsch died in mid-shoot and Otto Preminger finished the movie. In a manner of speaking.
  7. Alan Ladd, Desert Legion, 1952.      Plan A, in December ’51, was Wilde being drafted into the French Foreign Legion. Not. For. Long. Ladd took over… and played much of the film with a broken hand.
  8. Richard Conte, Highway Dragnet, 1953.      Who should be the ex-solder on the lam from the cops after a murder he did not commit? Broadway’s William Eythe was first choice in 1946, until replaced by Wilde as the WWII vet – who finally became a Korean war vet for Conte nine years later.
  9. John Derek, The Ten Commandments, 1954.
  10. Richard Todd, The Virgin Queen, 1955.  Or Raleigh and the Virgin Queen  when Wilde was among the contenders for  Queen Elizabeth I’s supposed lover, Sir Walter Raleigh. Other potential Walts were Richard Burton and Burt Lancaster.  Fox boss Darryl F Zanuck was more busy securing Bette Davis to reprise her Queen from 1939’s The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. “Mother was thrilled:” said her daughter BD Hyman. “She felt a great affinity for Queen Elizabeth, envied her her power and believed that she and the queen were very much of a kind.” As evidenced by her deftly removing  Raleigh from the title.

  11. Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955.
  12. James Dean, Giant, 1955.

  13. Bill Travers, Bhowani Junction,  1955.      MGM  made John Masters’  India novel in…Pakistan! After  quickly selecting Ava Gardner and Stewart Granger and proving undecided about Taylor, the oafish “cheechee”  railway station manager.    Wilde, Edmund Purdom or Michael Wlding?  Purdom simply split, and  for some reason, Travers knocked the other two out of the park.  Because he was surly and lost looking?
  14. John Derek, The Ten Commandments, 1955.       Wilde was pretty.  New boy Derek was prettier. And won Joshua when director CB DeMille re-made his 1922 silent version  as his final Biblical epic at age 75. 
  15. Michael Ansara, The Comancheros, 1961.    Among all the comings and goings in the cast – Steve Forrest, James Garner, John Gavin, Cary Grant, Charlton Heston, Tom Tyron  came and went –  Ansara succeeded Wilde as Amelung in Michael Curtiz’ finale. A Western, although it  never looked that way on the poster where John Wayne was, for once, minus a stetson.   Brando had been keen on the support role of  an Indian chief called Graile.









 Birth year: 1912Death year: Other name: 1989Casting Calls:  15