Ray Milland (1905-1986)
- Warner Baxter, The Squaw Man, 1931. Director Cecil B DeMille, shooting his pet story a third time, rejected the new Brit in town.
- Fred MacMurray, Hands Across The Table, 1935. Finding Carole Lombard too highly strung in We're Not Dressing, 1934, Milland "didn't want any part of it." Being more diplomatic, Mitchell Leisen said it was because comedy scared Milland.
- Richard Cromwell, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, 1935. Action director Henry Hathaway went through two of three trios - including Ronald Colman, Cary Grant and Milland.
- Alan Marshall, The Garden of Allah, 1936. Investing his all in Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer, producer David O Selznick lost Ray and David Niven along the way.
- Cary Grant, Bringing Up Baby, 1937. They all turned it down... Ronald Colman, Harold Lloyd, Frederic March, Robert Montgomery were all positive about being negative - and then, Katharine Hepburn turned down Leslie Howard. (Well, he had sacked her for stealing their Broadway play, The Animal Kingdom, in 1931).
- Cary Grant, Holiday, 1938. Ronald Colman and Robert Montgomery also refused.
- Leslie Howard, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
- Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Gunga Din, 1938. Arriving at RKO, Howard Hawks - The Silver Fox - wanted Milland, Robert Donat, Clark Gable, Roger Livesey, Robert Montgomery or Spencer Tracy for his three Kipling heroes. However, the director’s RKO screwballer, Bringing Up Baby, flopped. He was out, George Stevens was in. Well in, second only to Gone With The Wind in 1939.
- Barbara Stanwyck, The Lady Eve, 1940. For his deliciously sexy comedy, director Preston Sturges went through various combos for the con-woman chasing an heir to zillions… In 1938, the rascally gal was Claudette Colbert. In July, the couple was Joel McCrea and Madeleine Carrol, then Milland and Paulette Goddard. By August, Carroll and Fred MacMurray. In September, Fox loaned Henry Fonda to join Goddard - and they wound up as Fonda and Stanwyck… at her wicked best. And then Sturges claimed he wrote it for her. Oh really!
- Robert Preston, The Night of January 16, 1941. Don Ameche, Joel McCrea, Milland all dropped out. So did the film for a full year.
- Gary Cooper, For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1943. Ousted in excellent company...Robert Donat, Clark Gable, Joel McCrea, Tyrone Power.
- Spencer Tracy, State of the Union, 1947. Milland was not available to run for US President... for release during the 1948 conventions. Nor were Cary Cooper or Clark Gable. Finally, Tracy said it was about time he worked with Frank Capra - and Union became the third of Tracy and Katharine Hepburn’s nine films.
- John Lund, Bride of Vengeance, 1949. "The only film I refused during 21 years at Paramount... Horrible title, horrible script. Same story as Prince of Foxes." An unmitigated bomb, it opened and closed the same week in New York. Producer Richard Maibaum (first scenarist of the Bond films) was always convinced that Ray was behind the critical roasting.
- Alan Ladd, Shane, 1952. Director George Stevens’ first ideas were Milland or Monntgomery Clift as the traditional Western loner. Alan Ladd was a fortuitous afterthought. As age six, Billy Crystal was taken to the movie by his babysitter - Billie Holliday! When the kid kept calling “Come back, Shane” as Ladd rode off at the end, her voice of bitter experience declared: “He ain’t never comin’ back!”
- James Mason, A Star Is Born, 1953.
- Alec Guinness, The Bridge On The River Kwai, 1956. Producer Sam Spiegel was more keen than director David Lean on Milland for Nicholson. Sam also sussed out: Ronald Colman, John Gielgud, Cary Grant, Charles Lauaghton, James Mason, Laurence Olivier, Eric Portman, Anthony Quayle, Ralph Richardson - and Spencer Tracy, who bluntly told Spiegel that the mad Colonel had to be an Englishman. “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to watch a stiff-upper-lip British colonel for two and a half hours,” said Guinnses. So, Sam took him to dinner. “He was very persuasive.” Of course, he was. In the 50s/60s, to “Spiegel” was LA parlance meaning to cajole, manipulate or con. That’s how producer Spiegel won his deals, casts, women - and Guinness. “I started out maintaining that I wouldn’t play the role and by the end of the evening, we were discussing what kind of wig I would wear.”
- Dirk Bogarde, Campell’s Kingdom, 1957. Even when replacing a top Hollywood name, Bogarde felt that Rank boss John Davis (The Chief Accountant!) wanted him to be like seaside rock - "sweet and sickly and forgettable.”
- Dean Martin, Rio Bravo, 1958.
- Joseph Cotton, Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga (US: Baron Vampire), West Germany-Italy, 1971. When Vincent Price turned him down, Italian horrorsmith Mario Bava moved on to Milland - and finally settled for another Hollywood veteran.
- Don Ameche, Trading Places, 1983. The old Don was cheaper - and came with the publicity cachet of a movie comeback.