- Jane Fonda, The Chase, 1966. It was Sam Spiegel who first saw her as a future star, introduced her to Columbia, tested her for several of his productions…and unusually for him, kept his hands off her. It was Candice’s test as Robert Redford’s wife that convinced Robert Wise to sign her for The Sand Pebbles, long before she had finished her memorable debut in The Group, 1966. “I’d not heard of her. Everyone was very high on the Group test and suggested I take a look. Fortunately, she had the smallest role in The Group, so she had plenty of time to read our script and test for us."
- Katharine Ross, The Graduate, 1967. Broadway’s Mike Nichols came to town and saw, tested, auditioned almost every babe of the correct age for Mrs Robinson’s daughter. From Baby Doll to Lolita, by way of Saint Joan and The Flying Nun… Having played Games with her that year, Simone Signoret recommended Ross to Nichols.
- Harriett Andersson, The Deadly Affair, 1967. Missed probably true best film of a John le Carre book due to delays on The Sand Pebbles. “Never in the history of movie-making has so much time been wasted doing so little. To pass the time on Formosa, I went to funerals.”
- Jane Fonda, Hurry Sundown, 1967. Otto Preminger got better backing with a star name - and Michael Caine got her the next year in The Magus.
- Barbara Parkins, The Valley of the Dolls, 1967.
- Faye Dunaway, The Thomas Crown Affair, 1967. For the insurance agent investigating Tommy Crown, director Norman Jewison wanted Eva Marie Saint. Too old, screamed the suits. OK, the director drew up a dreamy wish list: Anouk Aimé, Brigitte Bardot, Candice Bergen, Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Vanessa Redgrave, Sharon Tate, Raquel Welch… and his star, Steve McQueen, suggested testing Camilla Sparv. “Yeah, well, I’ve just seen an early print of Bonnie and Clyde… and you’re gonna spend eight hours kissing her!”
- Carol White, Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting, 1968. First choices for the victim of a psychopath (who’d seen too many movies said critic Roger Ebert) were Bergen, Jane Fonda, Marlo Thomas. White was totally miscast, too healthy, wrote Ebert, too blond, too fetchingly plump, too simple, too secure for a haunted heroine. Ironically, her role was named Cathy - and White’s biggest UK film (and social impact) success was in Ken Loach’s tele-film, Cathy Come Home, 1969.
- Dominique Sanda, The Mackintosh Man, 1973. Not many actresses turn down Paul Newman - and John Huston! After her weak excuse (‘the material is too risky”), Bergen came clean in her autobiography: “Twelve weeks is three months. Three months is 90 days... Leaving The Love Object for 90 nights!" He was producer Bert Schneider.
- Mia Farrow, The Great Gatsby, 1973. In the final five Daisy Buchanans - before Bergen and Farrow went to the wire. Producer David Merrick wanted “aristocratic looks, hard to find in an actress.” Farrow won the tests - with the looks of a flu temperature of 103.
- Faye Dunaway, Network, 1976. Trashing director Sidney Lumet’s choice of Vanessa Redgrave, the film’s Oscar-winning writer Paddy Chayefsky wanted Candice (Ellen Burstyn or Natalie Wood) as his ratings-obsessed programming chief, Diana Christensen. “If you’re going to hustle, at least do it right.” Faye got the Oscar. And her then-hubby Terry O’Neill got his classic Morning After photo!
- Susan Sarandon, Pretty Baby, 1977. The rôle was horrendous - a prostitute allowing her 12-year-old daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light Storyville district of New Orleans, circa 1917. Elegant French director Louis Malle saw 28 possible little Violets - and another 15 actresses for her mother: Candice Bergen, Cher, Glenn Close (passed), Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett (passed), Jane Fonda (with Jodie Foster as her daughter), Goldie Hawn (preferred Foul Play), Anjelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Cybil Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver. Malle and Sarandon became lovers and also made Atlantic City together in 1980… the year he married Bergen until his 1995 death.
- Karen Black, Capricorn One, 1977. Ironically, the futureTV journo, Murphy Brown (1988-1998) passed on the role of… a TV journo!
- Mary Steenburgen, Goin’ South, 1978. Back in 1970, Paramount was voting George Segal and Candice, when Jack Nicholson suggested Jane Fonda and himself as the odd Western couple (she saves him from the gallows by agreeing to wed him). By ’77, Nicholson (and Warren Beatty) discovered Mary waitressing at the Magic Pan Creperie on 58th Street and fought to star her first.
- Audrey Hepburn, Bloodline, 1979. Jacqueline Bisset and Diane Keaton also refused. When Audrey came to UK director Terence Young’s rescue, the heroine moved from 22 to 33. Hepburn, however, was actually... 50.
- Jill Clayburgh, Starting Over, 1979. Dumbfounded, offended, at losing the top role, she become the “silly, shallow, self-absorbed” wife. “Not since Tony Curtis in The Vikings had there been such classic miscasting!” In her first film since her father’s death, she finally inherited his “joy o fmaking people laugh” - becoming the comic that ventriloquist Edgar Bergen always hoped she would be. Here was her first step towards TV's Murphy Brown.
- Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, 1990. .