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Lucille Ball (1911-1989)

  1. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  2. Wendy Barrie, Men Against The Sky, 1939.      Early on, Ball was booked as Kay - but then so was Robert Wise as editor. Neither one worked on the Edmund Lowe aviation thriller.
  3. Wendy Barrie, Cross-Country Romance, 1939.      Lucille and James Ellison were originally chosen for the couple finally won by Barrie and, back on-screen after missing for two y ears, Gene Raymond.
  4. Ellen Drew, The Night of January 16th, 1940.       Ayn Rand’s play had a great gimmick - the murder trial jury being drawn from the audience every night. All the movie could offer was Drew, the wondrous Paramount princess, beating Lucille Ball, Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard and Barbara Stanwyck to murder suspect Kit Lane.
  5. Barbara Stanwyck, Ball of Fire, 1941.      Until Gary Cooper suggested his 1940 Meet John Doe co-star -  and Stanwyck proved available - the redheaded Ball-of-fire  was  all set to be the  re-made Snow White now called... Sugarpuss O'Shea! In 1947, Howard Hawks re-made his film as A Song Is Born with Danny Kaye. Virginia Mayo (badly) played Sugarpuss - renamed Honey Swanson.  (From 007's little black book?). 
  6. Jane Wyman, Footlight Serenade, 1941.      Ball made it clear that she little interest in playing Flo La Verne, so  could she now go home, please. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther agreed it was a paper-doll role.  
  7. Angela Lansbury, The Harvey Girls, 1945.       The birds are waitresses at the famous 1880s’ Fred Harvey restaurant chain. (MGM accepts any excuse for a Judy Garland musical). Ball, Eve Arden, Ann Sothern, Lana Turner  had the good fortune to  lose Em - which had poor Lansbury hissed at by the public for  being the on-screen  rival of everyone’s sweetheart. Judy Garland.
  8. Frank Morgan, Yolanda And The Thief, 1945.      This tale comes from TCM superscribe Robert Osbourne: For a wee moment, the musical’s con artists (Fred Astaire and Morgan) were going to be  Astaire and Lucy!
  9. Hedy Lamarr, Samson and Delilah, 1949.    As well as  many less flattering terms,  Ball was known as Technicolor Tessie because of her red hair, blue eyes and red lips. In the 50s, she was bigger than producer-director Cecil B DeMille, buying her old studio, RKO, to make her TV farces about I Love Lucy  -  Esmeralda McGillicuddy Ricardo...
  10. Judy Holliday, Born Yesterday, 1950.   Hearing that Columbia boss King  Cohn refused to let the Broadway show's star test, Katharine Hepburn threw their  film, Adam's Rib, to Judy as one  gigantic test - forcing  Cohn to change his mind about Lucy, Alice Faye or Barbara Stanwyck. Result: an Oscar for Horrible Harry Cohn's “fat Jewish broad.”
  11. Gloria Grahame, The Greatest Show On Earth, 1951.     Cecil B DeMille was not  happy when she reported a pregnancy.  “Well,” he barked, “do something about it.” And he rasped at her husband, Desi Arnaz:  “Congratulations, Mr. Arnaz - you are the only man who has fucked Lucille Ball, Columbia  Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Harry Cohn  and Cecil B De Mille, all at the same time.”
  12.  Angela Lansbury, The Manchurian Candidate, 1962.     Every  studio refused the project - until JFK's interest. “In fact,” recalled John Frankenheimer,  “he just  wanted to know who was playing the mother.”  Sinatra  insisted upon Ball yet proved “extremely gracious” about Lansbury
  13. Susan Hayward, Valley Of The Dolls, 1967.
  14. Lee Grant,  Plaza Suite, 1970.      On Broadway, George C Scott and Maureen Stapleton starred in all three Neil Simon mini-plays. Paramount wanted six stars:  Scott & Stapleton (reprising the first of their triples),  Peter Sellers & Baraba Streisand, Walter Matthau & Lucille Ball.  Then, Matthau insisted on playing the three guys - with Lee Grant, Barbara Harris and  Stapleton. Simon didn’t like the cast, nor the picture. “Walter was wrong to play all three parts. That’s a trick Peter Sellers can do. I would only have used Walter in the last sequence and,  probably, Lee Grant.”




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