Hedy Lamarr

  1. Rosalind Russell, They Met In Bombay, 1940.     Actually, they met in Calabasas and the Malibu Hills. This proved the third and and final partnering of Clark Gable and Russell – the first title was Unholy Partners.  His next Russell was… Jane.  Lamarr, the most historic movie nude, was   all  but inventor of the mobile phone via her electronic expertise that helped create sophisticated WWII weapoons systems, such as relatively undetectable torpedoes. No wonder they called her… Lamarrvellous.
  2. Dorothy Lamour, Chad Hanna, 1940.  Lamour, Lamarr and Ann Sheridan were all in the frame for Albany, the circus equestrian star Henry Fonda first falls for back in the 1870s.  Next, he fancies Linda Darnell‘s as an expert bare-back rider. No furher comment.
  3. Rita Hayworth, Blood and Sand, 1940.  Paramount’s idea of re-making Rodolph (sic)  Valentino’s 1922 silen6 classic with Tyrone Power, the suits ran through ten  possibilities for the matador’s lady, Doña Sol des Muir (refused by Tallulah Bankhead in the 30s). Those interviewed and/or tested were Betty Grable, Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour, Carole Landis, Mona Maris, Maria Montez, Jane Russell, Gene Tierney – and Lynn Bari, who was awarded with the support role of Encarnacion).  Finally, this became Rita Hayworth’s first Technicolor film… even if her singing had to be dubbed by Rosita Granada.  Another re-tread in 1957 for, almost obviously, Sophia Loren, never happened.
  4. Lana Turner, Somewhere I’ll Find You, 1941.     The MGM ploy was to cash in on the 1939 Boom Town pairing of Lamarr and Clark Gable. His heart wasn’t in it after the plane crash death of his wife, Carole Lombard, on  January 16, 1942.  On returning to work a week later, Gable insisted on a title change to avoid heearing Somewhere I’ll Find You yelled by  the clapper-boy before each take.  MGM  called it  Red Light… for a wee while. When shooting ended,  Gable went off to war, at age 41, in the Army Air Corps.  He  did not film again until Adventure in 1945.
  5. Norma Shearer, Her Cardboard Lover, 1941.    Robert Taylor sings…!  Shearer’s final film was lambasted as  “wasted celluloid” by New York critics. Might have worked better with any of the other potential Consuelo Croydens: Lamarr, Joan Crawford, Grace Moore.
  6. Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca, 1941.
  7. Susan Peters, Song of Russia, 1943.    The Hollywood Reporter stated that Garbo was a “cinch” for Nadya.  The fact that Peters, Lamarr, Kathryn Grayson, Signe Hasso, Barbara Pearson and Donna Reed were also seen, underlined the relative unimportance of the role while over-egging the  Russian (WW11) propaganda. “Distastefully Communistic,” charged headliner Robert Taylor. 
  8. Ann Sothern, Cry ‘Havoc’,  1943.     Hollywood didn’t make many WWI films about women. So they all wanted to be  in this female Bataan. And like Crawford, who wanted it called  The Women Go to War, Lamarr asked to be cast “in any role” among the US armed forces or civilians. So did June Allyson, Eve Arden, Bonita Granville, Marilyn Maxwell, Susan Peters, Donna Reed, Ann Sheridan, Lana Turner, Helene Reynolds –  but none were chosen. 
  9. Ingrid Bergman,  Gaslight,  1943.  Paramount thought  Patrick Hamilton’s Broadway hit – but who should be  the frail wife being driven insane by her husband, Melvyn Douglas.? (Shades of Suspicion!),  At MGM, Charles Boyer became the new husband of Hedy Lamarr as  the new wife. She knew both script and helmer, Arthur Hornblow, but  “felt he wouldn’t get much from the combination of me and the story.” Unlike Irene Dunne, June Duprez, Bergman was the only star who did not  care if Charles Boyer required top-billing… and a box to stand on. She was too tall for him and  collected the  first of her three Oscars on March 15, 1945.   Butr wasn’t  it really for Casablanca, For Whom the Bell Tolls and Dr Jekylll and Mr Hyde? 
  10. Bette Davis, Mr Skeffington, 1943.  David O Selznick wanted the book in 1940 for James Stephenson and Bette Davis but head bro Jack Warner won it and aimed,  Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, Irene Dunne, Merle Oberon,  Norma Shearer and Gloria Swanson at Mrs S., wed to John Loder, Paul Lukas or Richard Waring – after  James Stephenson died before the filming began.  (Waring instead became Mrs S’ brother, Trippy Trellis). Davis rejected her Mrs role first time around. She “couldn’t play 50 at 32“– plus lines like “You’ve never loved anyone but yourself” were way too close to home. She then insisted on Claude Rains: her favourite “actor and colleague.”  as Mr. Plus Vincent Sherman as her director., and, inevitably, had an affair with him. Which usually guaranteed more and better close-ups… The 30-day shooting schedule took 110 days. Because, said the scenarist twins Julius J and Philip G Epstein, “Bette Davis is a slow director.”

  11. Lenore Aubert, They Got Me Covered, 1943.   Once Margo/Olga Venescue was  sufficiently beefed up, MGM agreed to loan Lamarr to the Bob Hope comedy. Pause. Once, Hedy got too busy at Metro and said  Aibert, her fellow Austrian,  should  take her place, Mrs Venescue was pared down again… not to cause  problems for the  main and obvious Hope co-star, Dorothy Lamour.  So it goes.   And still does today! 
  12. Katharine Hepburn, Dragon Seed,  1943.     When the MGM boss  chose Lamarr  to be a Mexican half-breed in Tortilla Flat,  Hepburn said LB Mayer had lost his mind. Exactly what Hollywood said now, when he made Hepburn into  a Chinese peasant girl! She did not care how much she was ridiculed, she had achieved her aim – beating Mayer’s first  choice. Lamarr, you see, was  an old flame of Kate’s more companion  than lover (not to say, patient) , Spencer Tracy. Pearl Buck’s book had a point – exposing Japanese atrocities in China.  MGM made it a farce, with the unlikeliest-looking Chinese family ever spawned by Hollywood. Taped eyelids for Hepburn, Walter Huston, Aline MacMahon, Akim Tamiroff.  Insulting!   Such whitewashing, was par for Hollywood racism when filming Pearl S Buck books in the 40s – such as Luise Rainer winning an Oscar (instead of Anna May Wong) in The Good Earth,1936, and Louise Thurston in China Sky, 1944 – until South Pacific’s France Nuyen  was Siu Lan in Satan Never Sleeps, when set visitors included myself…. In 1961.
  13. Gene Tierney, Laura, 1944.    “They sent me the script, not the score.”
  Then, the six-times wed Lamarr added: “I was a good judge of people, but a poor judge of writing.” She felt this was a mystery pot-boiler.  “Perhaps I couldn’t imagine the plus that a good director [not to mention a memorable  musical theme] could add to the script.” Not even when it was director Otto Preminger – who used to  let  her sneak into Max Reinhardt’s drama school back in Berlin.
  14. Ingrid Bergman, Saratoga Trunk, 1945.     Hedy felt the story was good but “there were points that upset me and I felt if I played it I would be affected emotionally.”
  15. Jennifer Jones, Duel in the Sun, 1946.     Niven Busch wrote it to help change  the dowdy image of his wife, Teresa Wright.  RKO wanted “the most beautiful  woman in the world.” RKO then contacted David  Selznick about turning Jones,  aka St  Bernadette, into a sinner – opposite John Wayne. Selznick jumped at  it, seeing his dowdy Jennifer in this sexual potage. Opposite a similarly miscast  Gregory Peck. One day, a  re-make will cast it correctly.
  16. Alida Valli, The Paradine Case, 1947.    Considered after Garbo and Ingrid Bergman(!) when  both refused to be a murderess.
  17. Judy Garland, The Pirate, 1947.  MGM snapped up SN Behrman’s play for… let’s see now, more stars than in the heavens above…  So how about them Minivers: Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon? Or, Garson or Myrna Loy plus Cary Grant plus Charles Laughton (as Don Pedro Vargas!)…  Or, the Notorious Grant and Ingrid Bergman couple…  or William Powell and Hedy Lamarr?  Hey, we’re MGM!  Why not a musical? With Judy Garland and… er… John Hodiak? They got on real swell in The Harvey Girls. He can’t really sing ‘n’ dance? No prob – Judy and Gene Kelly! And so it came to pass. Uneasily… The Minnellis (an imploding Judy and her director  father Vincente) were at each other’s creative throats. LB Mayer ordered the Judy-Kelly Voodoo number was  too torrid! (Judy-Kelly were torrid?). In fact, LB hated it all, calling it high-brow and extremely pretentious. Which it was. But that’’s Kelly  – and Minnelli – in a nutshell. Metro lost $2m. Including for the first time in any Hollywood budget, paying a shrink. For Judy.
  18. Bette Davis, All About Eve, 1950. 
  19. Ava Gardner, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1951.    Early choices for Cynthia were Lamarr and Anne Francis. Author Ernest Hemingway, however, preferred Gardner, who was quickly borrowed from MGM.  The author hated the film, patchworked with chapters from  his other novels. But he loved Ava.  “And  the hyena!” 
  20. Betty Hutton, The Greatest Show On Earth, 1951.     After her hit in Samson and Delilah, epic director Cecil B DeMille dreaded another picture with “our clash of temperament.”  He asked her all the same and to his fury, she refused. “He took too much out of me. I was entitled to cut my own pattern and let others cut theirs.” CB ran back to  Hutton –  his bizarre,  original  choice as Delilah.

  21. Joan Collins, Esther and the King, 1960.  The Bible was boffo  David and Bathsheba, The Ten Commandments, Solomon and Sheba..  Following her triumph in her first colour film, Cecil B DeMille’s Samson and Delilah, 1948, Lamarrvellous   agreed to headline The Story of Esther for the Brits (with Glenn Ford, of all non-Biblical faces, as Ahasuerus). (Say that in a hurry and people say: Gusenheidt!). Well, she knew  the story well.  CB had planned a  version with her  in 1939r opposite Robert Morley as Mordecai.  Neither project happened until Joan Collins and Richard Egan were directed by Raoul Walsh (and Martin Ritt) in Rome. Fox changed the title as it was already shooting The Story of Ruth…
  22. Martha Hyer, Picture  Mommy  Dead,  1966.    By  now all  of Lamarr’s   bad publicity  – divorces, theft,  poverty –  had tainted her out of movies. She was still first selected for the (dead) mother of crazy kid Susan Gordon (daughter of the director Bert I Gordon). But Hedfy was under arrest for shop-lifting. Her quarry? A pair of slippers. Value: $85.


 Birth year: 1913Death year: 2000Other name: Casting Calls:  22