Anne Baxter (1923-1985)
- Ann Gillis, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1937. During producer David O Selznick’s long search for Tom, a 14-year-old Baxter played Becky Thatcher in the test of an extremely young Montgomery Clift. DOS then told his squad: Find me an unknown orphan…! And wound up with the son of a fireman’s son from the Bronx.
- Joan Fontaine, Rebecca, 1939.
- Linda Darnell, Chad Hanna, l940. Consolation prize for losing out to Selznick's favourite was Jean Renoir's first US film, Swamp Water.
- Joan Bennett, Man Hunt, 1940. Bennett’s “English” accent was about as rank as Dick Van Dyke’s lousy Cockney in Mary Poppins in a (thankfully) short role opposite Walter Pidgeon - on the run from Nazis in London after trying to kill Hitler in Bavaria, no less. Also seen for Jerry were Greer Garson, Virginia Gilmore, Gene Tierney. And the only real Londoner on the short list: Ida Lupino.
- Jennifer Jones, The Song of Bernadette, 1943. Baxter, Mary Anderson, Linda Darnell, Lillian Gish, Beatrice Pearson, Ruth Quigley, Gene Tierney, Teresa Wright were all in the frame for the French girl who had a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858. Finally, on December 9, 1942, Jones won “the plum role of the year” - which “introduced” her although she she had made two Republic movies under her real name, Phylis Isley. Now she was being shoved into stardom by her lover and future husband, Gone With The Wind producer David O Selznick. (She was his very own Susan Alexander). To swing her the film, DOS offered to share her contract with Fox. Henry King directed the tests by telling actresses to look beyond the camera at a shining light. Jones, said King, didn’t just look - she saw. Hence her Best Actress Oscar on March 2, 1944, although the film was not fully released until April 1945.
- Joan Blondell, Nightmare Alley, 1947. In November, Baxter and Mark Stevens were set for Zeena and Stan. Within a month, they became Blondell and Tyrone Power. Baxter had become too important after winning a support Oscar for The Razor’s Edge in1947, also opposite Power.
- Patricia Neal, The Day The Earth Stood Still, 1950. Director Robert Wise’s first choice for Helen Benson became his second… Like everyone else, Neal no idea that the little movie would turn into a sf classic. She found it difficult to keep a straight face while saying her lines to Michael Rennie’s Klaatu. Or: Klaatu barada nikto. (George Lucas named two his Star Wars alien bounty hunters, Klaatu and Barada Nikto).
- June Haver, Love Nest, 1950. Haver was being Fox-grown into Betty Grable’s successor. That idea didn’t last long. (Obviously). These days, the video-jackets show just Haver’s co-star - Marilyn Monroe in an utterly delicious extended cameo. More! More! (We got that when Haver retired, became a nun, then changed veils to wed Fred MacMurray from 1954-1991).
- Jeanne Crain, People Will Talk, 1950. Among Joe Mankiewicz’s favourite films, despite considering Crain a non-actress. Her role, he itemised, was “the first time since the start of the Hays Office, that a girl who is pregnant by one man and marries another... is not punished.” Baxter was - for being pregnant and wed to the father, John Hodiak.
- Kim Hunter, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951. “I still think Baxter is our best bet,” said Elia Kazan about Marlon Brando’s wife, the famous “Stelllaaaaahhh!” Agent-turned-producer Charles K Feldman “went to great lengths” trying to spring her from Fox.
- Patricia Neal, Something For The Birds, 1951. Environmentalist Patricia Neal fights to to save the California Condor. Didn’t work! This largest North American land bird became extinct in 1987. Although some of the vultures were captured, housed, bred and reintroduced to the wild in 1991. Call it Mrs Smith Goes To Washington… and Finds Victor Mature.
- Susan Hayward, David and Bathsheba, 1952. Even after All About Eve, Fox felt Baxter was not name enough to bewitch Gregory Peck.
- Susan Hayward, White Witch Doctor, 1952. ...nor Robert Mitchum.
- Jean Peters, Niagara, 1953. Five years earlier, Baxter had taken over the female lead in the tacky Western Yellow Sky, when Jean Peters refused it as her debut. (Too sexy, she said). (Baxter, sexy?) Now, Peters replaced Baxter - fleeing what she saw as being turned into Marilyn Monroe vehicle. Being under Fox contract, MM was paid less than her make-up man.
- Marilyn Monroe, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953. She made it clear, she'd just dye to be Lorelei Lee.
- Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1955.
- Linda Darnell, Dakota Incident, 1956. Wise rejection of a Dale Robertson cowpoke programmer at Republic, which soon had Linda trying to rescue her falling status by trying Broadway. Neither assignment worked.