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Jane Powell

 

  1. Ann Blyth, The Student Prince, 1952.     “I didn't quit movies. They quit me.” She refused point-blank to work with Mario Lanza - eventually replaced, because of his weight, by Edmund Purdom, miming to the tenor’s arias.
  2. Cyd Charisse, Brigadoon, 1953.     MGM’s first plan for the downright silly musical about a Scottish Highlands town waking up  for a  day once a century had been Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson.  Then Grayson and Gene Kelly, finally Charisse and Kelly… who threw in the choreography, as well. Didn’t help. Great first half, lousy second. Major flop.
  3. Shirley Jones, Oklahoma! 1955. He saw both but director Fred Zinnemann wanted actors rather than singers. Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Paul Newman, Dale Robertson, Robert Stack, plus singers Vic Damone and   Howard Keel, as Curly… Ann Blyth, Ailene Roberts, Eva Marie Saint, Joanne Woodward and singers Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell… or even Piper Laurie for Laurey…Ernest Borgnine, Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin, Rod Steiger or Eli Wallach as poor Jud Fry. For a wee while, it looked as if Woodward and future husband Paul Newman would be Laurey and Curly. However, the musical’s parents had casting approval - Rodgers and Hammerstein agreed only about Steiger.  And Oklahoma was played by Arizona!
  4. Doris Day, Love Me Or Leave Me, 1955.     The Metro suits  could not see Janes Powell or Morgan  in a drama or as a sexy nightclub chanteuse - and poor Doris was castigated by her  fellow Christian Scientists for just that. She replied that was the character - future Ziegfeld Follies star Ruth Etting -  and not her. They should have seen her fight with  James Cagney as her first husband, gangster Moe “The Gimp” Snyder - where he flung her against a wall, tore off her dress and raped her. Censored, of course. Etting hated the film and, anyway, preferred Powell, very much a lookalike, in her role.  
  5. Janet Blair, Public Pigeon No 1, 1956.   After Audrey Meadows, Powell was wanted by comic-turned-producer Red Skelton - for what proved his final film. Powell was Elizabeth Taylor’s bridesmaid at her first marriage, caught the bug, married five times - with Liz being her first bridesmaid. Within two years Powell was stuck in TV. “I didn’t quit movies. They quit me.”




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