Dolores Del Rio


  1. Bette Davis, Juarez, 1938.   Davis was suspended by Warners and the project was retooled, putting Paul Muni front centre as the titular Mexican revolutionary leader kicking the French out of his country. Brian Aherne as the emperor Maximilian did the impossible and stole a Muni vehicle. Davis was  allowed back in as the unstable Empress Carlotta. Muni’s contract had an  unique clause that all his films should be titled after his characters. Unlike, for example, Juarez and Maximilian, a similar Mexican movie shooting at the same time. Warner Bros quicky bought it (why else was it made!) and released it much later with a title Bette Davis would have relished.  The Mad Empress.   After her naked swim in Bird of Paradise, 1931, Orson Welles said Dolores  was “the highest erotic ideal” for any red-blooded male. They made Journey Into Fear, 1942 – and that ended their affair.  
  2. Hedy Lamarr, Algiers, 1938.  Producer  Walter Wanger decided to re-make Jean Gabin’s  1936 French hit, Pépé  le Mojo,  with Charles  Boyer as the gangster on the  run.  Opposite  Dolores or  Hedy Lamarr  in the   Mireille Balin role  of Gaby  – or Sylvia Sidney as either Gabby or Ines.
  3. 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!”
  4. Katy Juardo, Broken Lance1953.    Marlene Dietrich called her “the most beautiful woman in Hollywood.” But Del Rio’s comeback opposite Spencer Tracy after being off-screen for a  dozen years,  was thwarted by Washington – “pending investigation of her political affiliations.” (She worked in LA again from 1957).  Juardo was just six years older than her screen son, Robert Wagner  and netted her only Oscar nomination.    Del Rio was 26 years older than RJ – perfect, therefore, for Elvis Presley’s Indian mother in Flaming Star, 1959.
  5. Audrey Hepburn, Green Mansions, 1959.     RKO bought WH Hudson’s novel   for a Del Rio-Jdel McCrea  follow-up to Bird of Paradise in 1932.   Paradise flopped,   Mansions was shelved.   By 1953, it wound up at MGM destined, first,   for Pier Angeli. Finally,   Mel Ferrer directed his wife in it. Badly.
  6. Angela Lansbury, Blue Hawaii, 1961.      Refused to mother Elvis – again. She had already been there and got the 1959 Flaming Star tee-shirt –  her first film since  1959. Angela went on to mothering Warren Beatty and smothering The Manchurian Candidate, 1962.


 Birth year: 1904Death year: 1983Other name: Casting Calls:  6