Fernando Lamas

  1. Anthony Dexter, Valentino, 1950.   
    The second of Dexter’s 25 screen roles (go on, name one) is his most famous film. The Nebraska farm boy was a real clone of the silent movie icon – aka Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla. Incredible!” declared George Melford who directed Valentinio as The Sheik in 1921. “The same eyes, ears, mouth – the same grace in dancing.”  The Columbia Pictures publicity machine insisted  that 75,000 applicants led to 400 screen tests none seemed to be Italian. Certainly not the final seven. Producer Edward Small (his name condemned his work in advance – Small productions!) finally went through Argentine Fernando Lamas, two Mexicans, (Arturo de Córdova, Ricardo Montalban) and three Yanks (John Derek, Jon Hall, Guy Williams) before voting for Dexter. UK director Ken Russell made a glossier (well, typically Russellian)  version in 1976.  His Rudolph wasn’t Italian either. But Russian! The ballet star Rudolph (geddit?) Nureyev.

  2. Stewart Granger, Scaramouche, 1951.      Until the new Brit in town proved himself in King Solomon’s Mines, MGM had planned Lamas v Ricardo Montalban as the duelling De Maynes brothers.Latinomouche!
  3. Jean-Pierre Aumont, Lili, 1952.   At first, MGM said the titular  Leslie Caron would co-star with Lamas,  Ralph Meeker, Ann Miller. They became Aumont, Mel Ferrer, Zsa Zsa Gabor.  Playing the waif was considered a bum move for Caron. “I heard that the whole studio laughed at me.”  MGMusical producer Arthur Freed told her:  “We gotta restore you to stardom – any ideas?”  Yes, she said:  Gigi.  Aha! 
  4. Ricardo Montalban,  Sombrero, 1952.    Love rules. Or passion. Lamas simply refused – not the role, which was bad enough, but the locations in Mexico. He had no wish to be so far from his lover, Lana Turner – in the middle of The Bad and the Beautiful, with Kirk Douglas… Likewise, Ava Gardner passed the lead to Pier Angeli on the orders of her lover, Frank Sinatra. Turner’s autbigraphy said they were done by then.
  5. Ricardo Montalban, Latin Lovers, 1952.     Golden Hollywood rule – lose the girl and you lose the film! Lana Turner had Lamas axed as they were no longer lovers. He had been her co-star the year before in The Merry Widow, when she wore abracelet to hide thescar from slashingher wrist when left by millionaire husband Bob Topping in 1951.
  6. James Mason, The Story of Three Loves, 1953.     Naturally, Mason made a far better Jealous Lover in the segment with Moira Shearer.
  7. Rossano Brazzi, South Pacific, 1957.    Broadway’s Emile  De Becque – Ezio Pinza – died that year and stage-screen director Joshua Logan wanted Lamas to take over. However, he was committed to his own Broadway show, Happy Hunting. Charles Boyer, Vittorio De Sicaalso tested. Brazzi’s singing came from, as the credits put it, “The Voice of Giorgio Tozzi.”
  8. Antonio Vilar, La femme et le pantin(US: The Female; UK: A Woman Like Satan), 1958.      Scared off by Brigitte Bardot. Or so goes the legend about The Last of the Red Hot Lamas.
  9. Patrick Macnee, Gavilan, TV, 1982-1983.     Terminal cancer meant he had to quit the series after a few episodes and be replaced by one of The Avengers (title of a 1950 Lamas film). 


 Birth year: 1915Death year: 1982Other name: Casting Calls:  9