Donna Reed (1921-1986)
- Susan Peters, Random Harvest, 1941. First Ann Richards, then Reed were due to be the Kitty, but it was finally Peters who fell for Ronald Colman - already committed to Greer Garson. Except, due to an accident, he can’t remember her. Sniff, sniff!
- Susan Peters, Song of Russia, 1943. The Hollywood Reporter stated that Garbo was a “cinch” for Nadya. The fact that Peters, Reed, Kathryn Grayson, Signe Hasso, Hedy Lamarr and Barbara Pearson were also seen, underlined the relative unimportance of the role in the over-egged slice of (WW11) Soviet propaganda. “Distastefully Communistic,” charged headliner Robert Taylor. He then joined WWII in the US Navy.
- Frances Rafferty, Dragon Seed, 1943. Insulting! Pearl Buck’s book had a point - exposing Japanese atrocities in China. MGM made it a farce, with the unlikeliest-looking Chinese family ever spawned by Hollywood. Taped eyelids for Hepburn, Walter Huston, Aline MacMahon, Akim Tamiroff… Reed failed to pass her Eurasian tests. So did Edward Arnold, Fay Bainter, Donald Crisp, Greer Garson, Van Heflin, Hedy Lamarr, Frank Morgan, Walter Pidgeon, Edward G Robinson.
- Frances Rafferty, Mrs Parkington, 1943. The 22-year-old Reed was selected as Jane Stilham in the fourth of eight Greer Garson-Walter Pidgeon films. And then… not.
- June Allyson, Music For Millions, 1944. The working titles were still Dear Barbara and 100 Girls and a Man, when Reed was in the mix for Barbara, “scraping a ’cello” (as New York Times critic Bosley Crowther phrased it) in José Iturbi’s symphony orchestra.
- Arlene Dahl, Scene of the Crime, 1948. Reed had been the original choice for Gloria - more than a smidgen pissed off at being wed to a cop she never sees, etc. Van Johnson was the husband. The inexplicable death of his pardner was the case.
- June Allyson, The Stratton Story, 1949.
The true face of James Stewart… “I was mad at Jimmy for wrecking my career,” said Reed. He had replaced Van Johnson in the baseball star’s biopic (“We’d wanted Jimmy from the beginning, he even looked like Monty a little,” recalled Mrs Ethel Stratton) and requested a change of Ellen. When Donna asked why, she was told:“Jimmy’s fighting for his professional life.” Reed said: ”What do you think I’m fighting for.” And she was. “I didn’t work at MGM again. The pictures I made got worse, except for From Here To Eternity, and my career never did recover.” But that was because neither Donna or her agents capitalised on her Eternity Oscar. Stewart said he liked Donna, a good actress, but they had no chemistry as man and wife in It’s A Wonderful Life and… “I hadda have a hit.”
- Anne Baxter, All About Eve,1949.
- Doe Avedon, Deep In My Heart, 1954. “To all those who love the music of Sigmund Romberg.” Musical chairs for Mrs Lillian Harris Romberg in the star-stuffed bio-musical when Reed had to leave to make The Last Time I Saw Paris.
- Shirley MacLaine, Around The World In 80 Days, 1955. No thank you! Too close to a previous exotic lady, Sacajawea in The Far Horizon, 1954. Producer Mike Todd then saw Suzanne Alexander, Marla English and Jacqueline Park. Shirley felt totally miscast her third movie. And she was! But she was also the hottest new It Girl in town!
- Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1955.
- Dana Wynter, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956. Director Don Siegel always denied that the pods represented either Communists or McCarthyists. “It’s just an alien invasion story.”
- Debra Paget, Omar Khayyam, 1956. In the Persian frame for Sharain were Reed, Joan Collins, Yvonne De Carlo and Joanne Dru. Persia was played by the Indio and Palm Springs regions of Southern California.
- Angie Dickinson, Rio Bravo, 1958.