Glenda Farrell

  1. Una Merkel, 42ndStreet, 1932. Sawyer, you’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” – the line (often misquoted) of themusical of all time. It saved Warner Bros from bankruptcy and was still   13th on the AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals list 73 years later!  Merkel beat Farrell to Lorraine Fleming, “a saucy chorus girl,” said the New York Times, “who is always ready with a smart retort for any impertinent young man.”
  2. Madge Evans, The Mayor of Hell, 1932.    Evans was a (poor) replacement for Glenda Farrell, who replaced the first choice Joan Blondell  – opposite James Cagney. 
  3. Dorothy Burgess, From Headquarters, 1932.     Director Michael Curtiz had been ready to go with Farrell and Bette Davis suspected of murder by homicide cop (and Bette’s guy) George E Stone. However, William Dieterle preferred Lindsay and Burgess grilled by George Brent.
  4. Ruth Donnelly, Convention City, 1933.     Much of the same cast as Footlight Parade, 1932: Donnelly, Joan Blondell, Dick Powell – when James Cagney’s lead was also called Kent, like Adolohe Menjou here. The difference was  the plot joked about everything from rape to bestiality… leading to Hollywood censoring itself with the Production Code. All prints were destroyed on Jack Warner’s orders… in 1995!
  5. Dorothy Burgess, From Headquarters, 1933.   Michael Curtiz was first due to helm the whodunnit with Farrell, Bette Davis and George E Stone, suspected, like everyone else in the cast, of knocking off the blackmailer, drug addict and double-crossing swine  played by Kenneth Thomsen. William Dieterle helmed. Farrell fled. Maybe  he didn’t like mug-shots.
  6. Gladys George, The Roaring Twenties, 1938.    Nothing had changed that much at Warner since James Cagney had been away…  Gladys replaced Ann Sheridan who had replaced Lee Patrick who replaced Glenda Farrell…. as Panama Smith, based on actress and nightclub hostess Texas Guinan. Oh, and Raoul  Walsh replaced Anatole Litvak as director.  Cagney was a gangster based on Moe Snyder – and played the real Moe in Doris Day’s 1954 Ruth Etting biopic, Love Me or Leave Me, 1954.
  7. Lola Lane, Torchy Blane in Panama, 1938. Torchy, the fast-talking reporter (and model for Lois Lane, admitted Superman’s  co-creator Jerry Siegel) and Barton MacLane as her guy, NYPD Lieutenant Steve McBride, were replaced in the fifth film by Lane and Paul Kelly.  The fans were not smitten and Farrell-MacLane were rushed back for the next three. Torchy had been a guy in Frederick Nebel’sMacBride and Kennedy books.  
  8. Jane Wyman, Torchy Blane… Paying With Dynamite, 1939.  When The fast-talking Farrell (450 words per 40 seconds!)quit Warner Bros after being reporter Torchy in seven chapters, the studio quickly (too quickly) rounded up the saccharine Jane Wyman (a  hat check girl in the first of the series).  But no, the ninth  movie proved the last. Warner tried to rehash Torchy with Wyman (now a cop), Dick Foran as her cop guy and Maxie Rosenbloom sitting in for Tom Kennedy’s dumbass.  Just. Didnt. Work.


 Birth year: 1901Death year: 1971Other name: Casting Calls:  8