Tyrone Power (1913-1958)
- Michael Whalen, Sing, Baby Sing, 1936. Spotted by a Fox scout in the Katharine Cornell company stage version of St Joan, Ty tested - and lost the film that pushed Alice Faye on top. Where Power joined her in less than two years. By 1939, Ty was voted King of Hollywood. (Jeanette MacDonald was Queen).
- James Stewart, Seventh Heaven, 1936. Head Fox Darryl Zanuck pulled Power out of the French sewe11rs - and into Love Is News with Loretta Young. Stewart was luckier. Simone Simon.
- John Beal, Madame X, 1937. Director Frank Borzage’s choice, before Sam Wood inherited the action. It was savvy agent Meyer Mishkin (who found and/or repped Anne Baxter, Wendell Corey, Richard Dreyfuss, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck and, above all, Lee Marvin) who forced LA suits to take a second look at Power. They had first rejected him because… “his eyebrows are too thick.” (They’d never heard of shaving?)
- Richard Greene, Submarine Patrol, 1938. Second John Ford film for Greene that year (after Four Men and A Prayer when he also replaced another guy: Douglas Fairbanks Jr). True Brit Greene had a Fox contract and almost as much fan mail as Power. Once back home, he was born again as Robin Hood for 143 TV episodes during 1955-1960. Ford had something better (and, of course, sentimental) for Power and kept him, waiting 15 years for it: The Long Grey Line, 1953.
- Leslie Howard, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
- Laurence Olivier, Wuthering Heights, 1938.
- Henry Fonda,Young Mr Lincoln, 1939. Before John Ford persuadeda remarkably hesitant (terrified!) Fonda with a special screen test (“I felt as if I were portraying Christ himself”), Fox had booked Irving Cummings to direct Power in the bio.
- William Holden, Golden Boy, 1938. According to biographer Bob Thomas, boxer Joe Bonaparte was refused by both Power and John Garfield. Not. Quite. True. The rôle was was refused for them (without them knowing, of course) by their respective studios, Fox and Warner Bros. Co-star Barbara Stanwyck insisted on the swiftly golden Holden.
- Spencer Tracy, Stanley and Livingstone, 1939. “No longer handsome Tyrone Power,” noted scenarist Philip Dunne about the casting of newspaperman Henry M Stanley, “but now rough Spencer Tracy.” And it worked.
- William Holden, Golden Boy, 1939. Loan deals were often used to keep stars in line, never to ruin them. Annoyed at MGM for wasting Power in Marie-Antoinette, 1938, head Fox Darryl Zanuck, refused to loan him out again.Director Rouben Mamoulian found Holden in his test for Million Dollar Legs, 1939. But for his next two re-makes, Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, Mamoulian won Power.
- John Wayne, Seven Sinners, 1940. Marlene Dietrich’s agent, Charles K Feldman, invented packaging and Fox was not happy with her top billing and just a “with” for Power. Director Tay Garnett saw her check Wayne over “from cowlick to cowboots and then say, in her characteristic basso whisper, ‘Daddy, buy me THAT!’ Duke, he said, proved “not a bright or exciting type.”But he sure was “mesmerised” and made two more movies with her.
- John Payne, Sun Valley Serenade, 1940. Or Passport to Life when Fox first announced Power and Linda Darnell as the lovers - the pianist and singer with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, no less - in Sonja Henie’s favourite icecapade. Payne’s squeeze became Lynn Bari.
- Don Ameche, Confirm or Deny, 1940. One Fox pretty boy for another as the war correspondent hero. Directors also changed when Fritz Lang’s gall bladder problems led to Archie Mayo finishing the movie - or indeed making it? That I cannot confirm or deny.
- John Wayne, The Shepherd of the Hills, 1940. The age of the contenders for the vengeful “Young Matt Matthews” fluctuated. Power and John Garfield, were 27, and Robert Preston, 22… before Wayne, at 33, made it his first colour Western. “A lachrymose bore,” said the New York Times.
- George Montgomery, Ten Gentlemen From West Point, 1941. West Point - The Early Years. (Far from historically accurate). Power, Henry Fonda and Randolph Scott were the early birds for the principled Kentuckian frontiersman - highly smitten with Maureen O’Hara.
- Irving Pichel, How Green Is My Valley, 1941. Ty was due to play the Roddy MacDowall character as an adult - in director William Wyler’s version, cancelled, said MacDowall, because “stockholders thought it a very dour subject with no style.” John Ford’s version won four Oscars including Best Film. Stockholders!
- Robert Cummings, Kings Row, 1941. Power, Rex Downing, Henry Fonda, Philip Reed, were also up for Parris, studying medicine under the doctor in “the town they talk of in whispers,” full of murder, sadism, depravity. And worse that had to be axed from Henry Bellamann’s 1940 novel: sex (premarital), sex (gay), incest, suicide... Peyton Place 16 years before Peyton Place! (Fonda and Power had played Frank and Jesse James in 1938).
- George Montgomery, China Girl, 1942. Or A Yank in China when head Fox Darryl Zanuck told the writer to “pattern the protagonist” after Power’s Yank in the RAF. Then, Zanuck changed his mind, “In reviewing this story outline, I am sure we made one mistake initially, in endeavoring to conceive Tyrone Power in the lead. We must forget Power, because no matter what changes in characterization we made, the audience would inevitably associate the line with A Yank in the RAF and this story would therefore be bound to lose its originality.”
Zanuck then suggested Victor Mature or John Payne.
- Gary Cooper, For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1943. Everyone was up for it. Robert Donat, Clark Gable, Ray Milland... and Ty.
- Robert Alda, Rhapsody In Blue, 1945. Director Irving apper could only see Ty in the George Gershwin biopic (and certainly not John Garfield who was begging for the role). Alda made his screen debut because Power was otherwise engaged. In WWII.
- Richard Widmark, Slattery’s Hurrricane, 1948. Fox mused over house boys Power and Dana Andrews for US Navy Lieutenant Willard Francis Slattery, monitoring hurricanes for the US Weather Bureau by flying his Grumman Mallard into their very epicentre. Good. Now add a dash of crime and what have you got? Nothing, really.
- Kirk Douglas, A Letter To Three Wives, 1948. Originally, Four Wives… Too long, snapped Darryl Zanuck. Kill one wife! So Anne Baxter’s Martha never got Addie’s letter about running off with one of their spouses. But which one? Ann Sothern’s Douglas, for example, or Linda Darnell’s Douglas (Paul)…
- Marlon Brando, Viva Zapata, 1952. Having set his mind on Power (or,maybe, Anthony Quinn), Zanuck was furious at Elia Kazan for sending Brando the script. Kazan wanted Brando and Julie Harris. He settled for just Brando - at $100,000.
- Rory Calhoun, Way Of A Gaucho, 1952. The original notion was Henry King directing Power.Then, King switched to another movie and Power followed him out the exit.
- Burt Lancaster, From Here To Eternity, 1952.
- Richard Burton, The Robe, 1952. Fox boss Darryl Zanuck dangled the script as bait to get him to sign a new Fox contract. Power preferred returning to the stage with John Brown’s Body. for Marcellus Gallio, the Roman tribune haunted by his crucifixion of Jesus. OK, how about Burt Lancaster.No? OK, send out for Samson...!
- James Mason, A Star Is Born, 1953.
- James Stewart, The Glenn Miller Story, 1953. One year earlier, Power and Gregory Peck topped Universal’s list for the trombone-playing bandleader - whose plane went missing after one of his WWII troop concert tours in Europe. Power went on to play a different bandleader (piano, not trombone) in The Eddy Duchin Story, 1955.
- Henry Fonda, Mister Roberts, 1954. From the outset, Warner Bros agreed that Fonda, the star of 1,600 Broadway performances, was the “only man thought of for the title role.” Sure, but he was like, kinda too old… and had not been seen since John Ford’s Fort Apache in 1948. And so, Doug Roberts was first offered to to Holden. Being no fool, he passed - “Fonda owned it!”
Next target: Marlon Brando! Then, Power. Ford only agreed to direct if the studio OK’d Fonda who, like Ford, had served in the US Navy during WWII, not to mention six other Ford films. Also backing Fonda was producer Leland Heyward - Hank’s agent, now wed to his’s ex-wife Margaret Sullavan. Fonda never knew Ford had fought the studio for him - particularly when, during the shooting, Ford fought with him, knocking Hank on his elegant ass... before quitting. Josh Logan finished the voyage.
- Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955.
- William Holden, The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1956. After Humphrey Bogart passed on Shears (written for him by Carl Foreman), Power was contacted. However, it was Holden – and his canny agent – winning the first delayed payment deal: $250,000 plus 10% of “whatever the profits: were, to be paid at no more than $50,000 per year.” By 1975, the cut reached $2.8m. (Columbia and Spiegel shared the annual $100,000 interest made from Holden’s funds!) Director David Lean was impressed with Holden and asked him to play an American doctor in his next (aborted) project: Gandhi.
- Antonio Vilar, La femme et la pantin (US: The Female; UK: A Woman Like Satan), France-Spain, 1958. “My life’s empty, almost meaningless.” He refused the version planned with Gina Lollobrigida. And met her on his next and final film.
- Yul Brynner, Solomon and Sheba, 1958. “I’ve had it,” said a pale, shaking Power after sword-fighting George Sanders on November 15, 1958. Power retired to his trailer, had a heart attack, was sped to the USAF hospital at Torrejon in co-star Gina Lollobrigida's Mercedes and died - like his father before him in the middle of a film. “My best part and best film,” he had told King Vidor. Hardly. As is almost traditional, the dead star remains visible in some long shots.
* Tyrone Power as the king in Solomon and Sheba, 1959. He died during the production - exactly like his father during The Miracle Man, 1932. Solomon was eventually completed by Yul Brynner, still with Marisa Pavan as Abishag . [courtesy Daniel Bouteiller/Telé Ciné Documentation]