Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)
- 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.
- Rita Hayworth, Blood and Sand, 1940. Good thinking! Lamarr topped head Fox Darryl Zanuck’s list for the the manipulative socialite vamp, Doña Sol, toying with Tyrone Power’s matador in the re-hash of Rudolph Valentino’s 1921 silent classic. However, MGM refused to any loan deal with Fox. Also considered: Lynn Bari, Betty Grable, Dorothy Lamour, Carole Landis, Mona Maris, Maria Montez, Jane Russell and Gene Tierney. And Ava Gardner? Not synonymous with bullfighters until the 50s!
- 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.
- 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.
- Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca, 1941.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ingrid Bergman, Gaslight, 1943. The ex-Hedwig knew both script and helmer, Arthur Hornblow, but "felt he wouldn't get much from the combination of me and the story. Wrong again!" 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.
- Bette Davis, Mr Skeffington, 1943. Thinking, like Bette Davis that they were too young for the the 50-year-old Mrs S, Lamarr, Tallulah Bankhead and Merle Oberon fled from the rôle. Inevitably, the 40-somethings felt the same: Irene Dunne, Norma Shearer and Gloria Swanson. Davis thought again - and won her eighth of 11 Oscar nominations.
- Katharine Hepburn, Dragon Seed, 1944. 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 !
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- Alida Valli, The Paradine Case, 1947. Considered after Garbo and Ingrid Bergman(!) when both refused to be a murderess.
- Judy Garland, The Pirate, 1947. Over the years, MGM aimed the Broadway drama at (a) Mrs Miniver and hubby, Garson and Walter Pidgeon; (b) Garson, Cary Grant, Charles Laughton; (c) Myrna Loy; (d) the Notorious couple, Grant and Ingrid Bergman; (e) Lamarr and William Powell. No one saluted. So, it was churned into a musical - with (f) a prancing Gene Kelly and an imploding Garland. Metro lost $2m. Including for the first time in any Hollywood budget, paying a shrink. For Judy.
- 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!”
- 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.
- Joan Collins, Esther and the King, 1960. Announced as Lamarr's comeback in 1953. But the self-described, hard to handle cross between Greta Garbo and Judy Garland was no longer able to make audiences "Hedy with delight"!
- Martha Hyer, Picture Mommy Dead, 1966. By now all her bad publicity - divorces, shop-lifting, poverty - had tainted her out of movies.