Dennis Morgan

  1. Harry Stockwell, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937.     Morgan, Alan Jones, Felix Knight and Douglas McPhall were beaten to voicing The Prince who would some day come – by the future father of actor brothers Guy and Dean Stockwell. The toon classic was the fourth of Stockwell’s eight movies… in 38 years.

  2. Pat  O’Brien,  Knute Rockne – All American (UK: A Modern Hero), 1939.     “Win one for The Gipper”  is one of the lines in US cinema. And, good grief, Ronnie Reagan made it happen! Trying to rev up a fast imploding career as everyone’s best pal, Reagan suggested that Jack Warner should film the story of Knute,  the legendary Notre Dame football coach. “And I could play George Gipp.” You’re too small.  Reagan promptly produced an old photo of him playing college football – he was actually bigger than The Gipper. Bye bye Morgan, Robert Cummings, William Holden, Robert Young.  Oh,  and John Wayne.  James Cagney was ruled out by Notre Dame University for the biopic of its football coach.  So,  his  pal got his dream role.

  3. Errol Flynn, The Sea Hawk, 1939.     All set for Morgan and Geraldine Fitzgerald, until the Flynn-De Havilland duo bred dollars galore in Captain Blood (also written by Rafael Sabatini), The Adventures of Robin Hood and Dodge City. In his third, more successful movie career (after being Stanley Morner, then Richard Stanley), the “small-time opera singer” was just too much of a nice guy – in musicals and Westerns – to handle bold leads. Flynn took over the Rafael Sabatini hero – with Brenda Marshall instead of Olivia De Havilland, suffering swashbuckler and/or Flynn fatigue They made seven movies together and she swore he never got her into bed.
  4. Ronald Reagan, Kings Row, 1941.     John Garfield in a role played  by Reagan?!!   Well, this wasn’t Bedtime With Bonzo!  Morgan, Eddie Albert, Franchot Tone were also up for the orphaned playboy, Drake McHugh.   Reagan’s finest hour as an actor, particularly when realising his legs were  amputated: “Where’s the rest of me?”   (This became the title of his 1965 autobio and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score was played during Reagan’s inauguration as the 40th US President (1981-1989). 
  5. Humphrey Bogart,  Casablanca, 1941.
  6. Humphrey Bogart, Across The Pacific, 1942.      The studio pencilled in the Wings For The Eagle duo, Dennis and Ann Sheridan. Director John Huston preferred to keep the faith with his Maltese Falconers:  Humphrey Bogart  and Mary Astor. Dennis replaced the movie-fatigued Bogart in God Is My Co-Pilot, 1945. 
  7. Gene Kelly, Cover Girl, 1943.     In February, Columbia started negotiating a loan of Morgany from Warner  until changing talks to MGM for the new kid  in town. Charles Vidor was director, but Kelly was allowed to run almost everything… in only his sixth film! And first choregraphics (with Broadway chum Stanley Donen). He removed sound stage walls to shoot a dancing in the street routine in one take… and pranced with himself in the Alter Ego SFX number. Quite the musical Orson Welles.
  8. Glenn Ford, A Stolen Life, 1945.     This was a BD Production and BD called the shots. Bette Davis. Warners preferred the cheaper contractees Morgan or Robert Alda to her choice of Ford. BD then made a secret test with GF and Jack Warner caved and paid Columbia for his services. Together with Gilda, this film reopened GF’s career after two WWII years in the Marines. And explains why he said he  did the same for her in his Pocketul of Miracles, 1960. Now how she saw it. “That shitheel wouldn’t have helped me out of a sewer!”
  9. Robert Alda, Cinderella Jones, 1945.         Morgan was the initial Warner Bros choice for Tommy Coles – one of two suitors eager to comply with a will’s marriage deadline clause of Joan Leslie’s surprise heiress to a fortune. 
  10. Ronald Reagen, The Girl From Jones Beach, 1948.   In April, The Hollywood Reporter insisted Morgan would topline what became a rare Reagan comedy.   Until his Washington years.

  11. William Bendix, The Babe Ruth Story, 1948. 
    The laugh-by-laugh, tear-by-tear, cheer-by-cheer story of America’s most beloved guy…” When it came to biopic the famed baseball star (22 Major League Baseball seasons with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees), George Herman Ruth (1895 -1948) was too ill to play himself.  Rather than risk a newcomer, producer-director Roy Del Ruth checked real – and fat actors. From Jack Carson (Warner Bros  would not loan him),  Paul Douglas and Dennis Morgan to…  Orson Welles!!!  Babe however, also aka The Bambino and The Sultan of Swat, chose Bendix. He owed him!  As a kid in the 20s, Bendix was a Yankee Stadium bat boy and got   what The Babe wanted before one game – 15 hot dogs and sodas. Naturally, he was then in no condition to play ball. The Yankees lost. And Bendix was fired!  Ruth died 21 days after attending the July 26th, 1948 premiere. Bendix didn’t resemble him until wearing a new nose.  (How Welles would have loved that).

  12. David Niven, A Kiss in the Dark, 1948.      Lauren Bacall and Morgan (Bogie’s usual substitute) passed this flimsy comic caper to Jane Wyman and and a poor Niven – “punched and pummeled, said New York Times critic Bosley Crowther, “caught in a bear-trap and hit by falling bricks… passably amusing but nothing to split your sides.”
  13. Robert Montgomery, June Bride, 1948.   Bette Davis was furious. (Of course, she was, she was making   a comedy, never her strongest forté). She wanted Jack Carson or Dennis Morgan as her fellow journalists. The suits wanted Fred Astaire (she would have ate him up and  spat him out). Finally, “JL” (head bro Jack Warner)  borrowed MGM’s Robert Montgomery . Because he was big at the box-office.  As Bette used to be…. She now needed shoring up. And frankly, JL didn’t know what to do with her anymore.   Actually, he never did…
  14. Richard Todd, A Man Called Peter, 1954.  Not the disciple but the Reverend Peter Marshall, rising from a lowly Scottish town to Chaplain of the US Senate.  Morgan was Todd’s only rival for the biopioc.  Mrs Peter (who wrote the book the film adapted) was played by… Jean Peters
  15. Mario Lanza, Serenade, 1955.   Imagine turning  a James M Cain novel into a Mario Lanza musical! Despite four songs in the first  20 minutes, the (fat) Lanza’s comeback, after four years off-screen, flopped. In 1944, the plan had been Morgan and Ann Sheridan.  The novel, said web critic David Vineyard, was  dark, sensual, powerful, shocking, blatantly sexual, violent, noirish, symbolic.  And the film?  “Tired, trite, empty, slick, pointless.”

 Birth year: 1908Death year: 1994Other name: Casting Calls:  15