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Dame Angela Lansbury

  1. Donna Reed, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1945.     Brand new to Hollywood, Angelatested for the first English roles she heard about. Director George Cukor thought her too young for Gaslight, 1943.But she got it, an immediate Oscar nomination, a seven-year MGM pact, a better Dorian Gray role than she'd tested for - and another Oscar nod. Fairytale start for the war-time evacuee and grand-daughter of the 1930s’ British Labour Party leader George Lansbury.
  2. Linda Darnell, Forever Amber, 1947.     "I flunked the bosom test!"
  3. Janet Leigh, If Winter Comes, 1947.      At 22, Lansbury wanted to be the trouble waif called Effie. No, ordered MGM, you will be Walter Pidgeon’s wife - a total  shrew. Lansbury got the message. Hollywood superstardom was not for her. Well, hello Broadway!
  4. June Allyson, The Three Musketeers, 1948.    Not happy playing Constance Bonacieux and wanting to be Milady de Winter (reserved for Lana Turner), Angela was promoted to Queen Anne. 
  5. Elsa Lanchester, Androcles and Lion, 1951.      During the bizarre casting during three years of George Bernard Shaw playlet - everyone from the sublime Chaplin (and Harpo Marx) to the ridiculous Eddie Bracken was imagined for the lead! GBS’s favourite UK producer-director Gabriel Pascal first wanted Lansbury as Megera.
  6. Mercedes McCambridge, Giant, 1955.
  7. Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins, 1963.     During the 20 years of trying to persuade UK author PL Travers to let him keep his promise to his daughters and film her supercalifragilisticexpialidocious book,  Uncle  Walt Disney first saw Mary as being  older.  Such as  Angela, Bette Davis (both made later Disney films) or Broadway’s  Mary Martin.  Then, Disney saw Julie singing her Camelot  songs on TV’s Ed Sullivan Show. And signed her for his finest hour -  eight Oscars! Lansbury  went on to work with the Poppins' employer, David Tomlinson, in another Disney hit: Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971. 
  8. Coral Browne, The Killing of Sister George, 1968.     From Disney to kissing Susannah York’s naked breasts for director Robert Aldrich... I don’t think so! Much less her next offer...
  9. Raquel Welch, Myra Breckinridge, 1969.     Distinguished stage-screen producer Robert Fryer (Sweet Charity, The Boston Strangler) was behind Fox snapping up his friend Gore Vidal's scandalous satire for unprecedented $900,000. Fryer was far from happy to be saddled with a British pop singer as his director - Vidal immediately quit as co-producer. Fryer wanted Angela for the transexual Myron/Myra. Fox said contract player Welch was cheaper at $125,000. Sarne was happy with her test. "She has a marvellous artificial way of acting. And you could totally believe she was asex change in a mad sort of way."
  10. Maggie Smith, Love And Pain and the Whole Damn Thing, 1972.     Director Alan J Pakula was looking for backers. A suit from Cinema Center, the new movie affiliate of CBS, told him: “We'll finance...if you do it with Angela Lansbury.” This was after Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971, and a dozen years before her TV series, Murder She Wrote, ran from 1984-1996 on... CBS). Hmm,Pakula pondered, but held his original thought.
  11. Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1974.
  12. Joan Plowright, Tea With Mussolini, 1999.     First choice of Italian stage-screen director Franco Zeffirelli for one of the three British expat eccentrics who become the protagonist's adoptive aunts - based upon the childhood chapter of the maestro’s autobiography.
  13. Tilda Swinton, The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2013.    Driving Miss Daisy on-stage got in the way of the tiny cameo of the rich, Zubrowkan dowager Madame D, 84 and… dead.
  14. James Corden, Into The Woods, 2013.  

 

 





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