David Janssen

  1. Guy Williams, Zorro, TV, 1957-1961.    Because it was for Disney, who had just made a star out of Fess Parker as Davy Crockett, the first casting call in March 1957, was answered by 130 Zorro wannabes!   Uncle Walt insisted all the final testers had real moustaches (like his!).   Producer Norman Foster knew who he wanted and (despite Disney’s misgivings), wouldn’t make the series without him.  Williams began shooting the opener, Presenting Senor Zorro, during July 15-26. And by 1963, Janssen went to be The Fugitive for an “exhausting” four years, 1963-1967.
  2. Clint Eastwood, Lafayette Escadrille (UK: Hell Bent For Glory), 1958.     No matter what director William “Wild Bill” Wellman wanted for his final film, Warner Bros would not sanction Clint as the hero (that went to Tab Hunter) or the secondary character of Duke Sinclair.  (He was lucky to be approved for George Moseley).
  3. Cary Grant, Operation Petticoat, 1959. Tony Curtis wanted Cary as his submarine commander. Universal wanted anyone else – to avoid sharing profits with Grant’s company. The studio had suggested two tele-dicks Janssen (Richard Diamond, 1957) and Craig Stevens (Peter Gunn, 1958-1961).
  4. Eddie  Fisher, Butterfield  8,  1960.    Janssen was not Elizabeth Taylor’s  latest  lover,  so Fisher won the honour of delivering such lines  as: “I’m sick of opening doors every other day and finding you burned out, boozed up and ugly.”  She had refused John O’Hara’s  novel –  “the most  pornograohic  script I’ve ever read!”  She claimed MGM threatened to keep her off-screen for two years if she  failed to complete her contract with the film. MGM won. Then, she shot  off to  Rome ,Cleopatra, and Richard Burton and…  bye-bye to Eddie.. As Burton became husband #5 (and #6 of eight). MGM had expected to benefit from  all her Cleo publicity, it  just never knew how much that would be…She still called Butterfield “trash,” after it won her an Oscar – really for surviving her Cleopstra brush with death. Loser Shirley  MacLaine said she was beaten by a tracheotomy.
  5. Stuart Whitman, The Sands of the Kalahari, 1964.       Welsh actor-producer Stanley Baker was friends with Welsh Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Or, so he thought. When he invited them aboard his desert drama, their price was way too high – and they didn’t seem to care. Baker next tried Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum (and Carroll Baker), George Peppard… even Janssen, the 1963-1967 Fugitive TV star. Hollywoodians were just wary, not sure if the Burtons passed because of money… or a dodgy scenario.
  6. Omar Sharif, Funny Girl, 1967.The Jewish Barbra Streisand preferred an Arab screen lover (on and off-screen) to Cary Grant. And the others short-listed for her gambling man Nick Arnstein:  Marlon Brando, Sean Connery, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra.  Plus three  TVstars, Robert Culp, James Garner, David Janssen, that she would have chewed up and spat out. She as an expert in cutting her co-stars’ roles to ribbons.  Asked whether she’d been difficult to work with, director William Wyler said:  “No, not too hard, considering it was the first movie she ever directed”!  


 Birth year: 1930Death year: 1980Other name: Casting Calls:  6