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Mitzi Gaynor

 

  1. Tina Pine, Park Row, 1952.      Tough guy auteur Samuel Fuller financed his cut-price Citizen Kane - and lost the whole shebang: $200,000.The Press loved the newspaper story, but Darryl Zanuck was right. To win the the public Sam needed stars. For example, Mitzi Gaynor as the best loved barmaid on the famous (titular)journalism street - and Dan Dailey as the headlined Brooklyn Bridge jumper. “Hell,” growled Sam, who invariably growled in CAPITALS, “THAT'S A  MUSICAL!”Exactly what Zanuck was thinking.Which is how come Sammy paid all and lost all - $200,000.
  2. Betty Grable, The Farmer Takes A Wife, 1952.      Who else but the top Fox pin-up and musical star could take over Janet Gaynor’s 1934 wife in this (dullard) musical version from (dullard) director Henry Levin. Null and void. Earlier, Gaynor (no kin to Janet) and Jeanne Crain (in 1944) had been in the mix. Grable decided one more was enough and after How to Marry a Millionaire, sure enough, she retired.
  3. Gloria Grahame, Oklahoma, 1955.      The shows composers,   Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, wanted   her as Ado Annie, the gal who can't say no.   But Fox could, refusing to loan   her.
  4. Leslie Caron, Daddy Long Legs, 1955.       And Fox dropped her the same   year after There's No Business Like Show Business - preferring MGM's gamine. So did Daddy-Astaire: "Leslie will hold up   production for many minutes (or hours) until she feels in complete control of what she's about   to do.   I consider that a most commendable trait."
  5. Debbie Reynolds, The Tender Trap, 1955.       Mitzi and Barbara Darrow were also in the mix for the Julie chased by Frank Sinatra. Three years later, they were thisclose to being matched anew  for  Say One For Me, 1958.   
  6. Sheree North, The Best Things In Life Are Free, 1956.      Now Fox wanted her back. She told them where to get off.
  7. Marilyn Monroe, Some Like It Hot, 1958.      Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, said Billy Wilder, was the weakest, yet most important part. He needed a good actress. A Star. He was considering Mitzi when he got a letter from Marilyn hoping they would work together again. Of course! Perfect! Wilder said she was like smoking: impossible to give up. He melted, knowing the magic she’d bring - and the headaches. Such as 47 takes of the line: "Where's that bourbon?" (Finally shot with her back to the camera). Winning over Marilyn (for 10% of the gross) meant he could have his way regarding Jack Lemmon - in the first of seven films together during 1958-1981. Wilder never admitted he was writing Sugar for her. “They don’t like that.” So he would say: “I know you can interpret this part because you can play anything... They love that.”

 





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