Geraldine Fitzgerald

  1. Belle Chrystall, The Edge of the World, 1937.     UK director Michael Powell was impressed by two young Irish actors in The Turn of the Tide  (first film financed by miller-turned-producer J Arthur Rank).  Niall MacGinnis signed on, but Geraldine (“one of the  sweetest women to take Broadway by storm”) was committed elsewhere.
  2. Rosalind Russell, The Citadel, 1938.   The Irish Fitzgerald and two Brits – Greer Garson and Vivien Leigh – tested for Dr Robert Donat’s wife, Christine, in King Vidor’s take on the AJ Cronin novel.  MGM gave the rôle to Elizabeth Allan (handily living back in the UK) until rudely dropping her when Russell became available. 
  3. Bette Davis, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, 1939.      Jack Warner tested the Irish girl as reserve queen when mistakenly thinking  Bette was too frail for such an ordeal.  She was merely in a snit  about  working with her nemesis, Michael Curtiz,  who called her “a goddddamned-nothing-no-good-senseless-sonuvabitch” –  and opposite Errol Flynn who, she felt, “had no right to play Essex whatsoever.” The two actresses remained close friend with great solidarity in fighting for  better scripts at Warners.
  4. Brenda Marshall, The Sea Hawk, 1940.      Once Errol Flynn  shanghaied Dennis Morgan, Olivia De Havilland was naturally first to be talked of.
  5. Mary Astor, The Maltese Falcon, 1940.   Who didn’t want to be Brigid O’Shaugnessy:  “I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.”  She was the film noir Scarlett O’Hara and three potential Scarletts were in a new battle: Joan Bennett, Paulette Goddard, Brenda Marhsall. Also delighted at being seen were: Fitzgerald, Ingrid Bergman, Olivia de Havilland,  Betty Field,  Janet Gaynor, Rita Hayworth. And Fitzgerald who called Brigid  “a humdinger” and was livid when Jack Warner switched her to replace Astor among The Gay Sisters.
  6. Rosa Stradner, The Keys of the Kingdom, 1944.   Gregory Peck’s debut had not opened and head Fox Darryl Zanuck needed a name as the Reverend Mother Maria Veronica to bolster him… but never had a role strong enough to attract Ingrid Bergman. (Nor, Fitzgerald, Rosalind Russerll or the inevitable rank outsider, KT Stevens). Co-writer Nunnally Johnson reported how writer-producer Joseph L Mankiewicz “practically got down on his knees” for his wife, Stradner: “This will save or doom my marriage.” Mankiewicz firmly denied it but she got the part. And the couple stayed wed until her1958 death. Whil;e Bergman, Fitzgerald and Russell became meatier nuns in, respectively, The Bells of St Mary’s, 1944, Dixie: Changing Habits, TV, 1983, and The Trouble With Angels, 1965.
  7. Jeanette Nolan, Macbeth, 1948.    Geraldine and Jeanette (winning her screen debut) were among Orson Welles’ potential Lady Macbeths. (Agnes Moorhead who played it with him  on radio was not, despite all the  legends).
  8. Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951.     The Broadaway producer Irene Mayer Selznick (ex-wife of David, daughter of MGM titan LB Mayer) made a  list for  Blanche DuBois. It  included: Geraldine, Constance Cummings, Bette Davis,  Olivia De Havilland, Miriam Hopkins (“If there’s anybody Bette hates more than Joan Crawford, it’s Miriam”), Celia Johnson, Veronica Lake, Ruth Warrick, etc.    She wound up using her ex’s Scarlett O’Hara.


 Birth year: 1913Death year: 2005Other name: Casting Calls:  8