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Lana Turner (1920-1995)


  1. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  2. Lorraine Krueger, Idiot’s Delight, 1939.    Turner  was booked  among the  blondes  carrying Clark Gable off at the end of his one and only song ’n’ dance routine. Except she was rushed back to hospital after a botched appendectomy.  Scared of messing  up, Gable ordered  a closed set while he was “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
  3. Florence Rice,  At The Circus, 1939.      Lana would have been the sexiest Marx Brothers’ blonde  since Thelma Todd in Horse Feathers, 1932. Instead, the  title  went to Groucho’s choice for Love Happy, 1949, “a young lady who can walk by me in such a manner as to arouse my elderly libido and cause smoke to issue from my ears.”  Marilyn Monroe.
  4. Veronica Lake, I Wanted Wings, 1939. Paramount had siren Sally written for Hayworth, but Columbia would not play ball. The role was inappropriate! Turner, Susan Hayward and Patricia Morison were chased until Constance Keane became Sally under her new name… Veronica Lake. The New York Times said she had “little more than a talent for wearing low-cut gowns.” She sure got better.
  5. Rosalind Russell, They Met In Bombay, 1940.    Actually, they met in Calabasas and the Malibu Hills. Turner was dropped to make this the third and and final partnering of Clark Gable and Russell - the first title was Unholy Partners.  His next Russell was… Jane. 
  6. Ingrid Bergman, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1941.     Cast as the doctor’s sweet  fiancee, Ingrid  preferred to be Hyde’s whore. She got her way. Spencer Tracy did not. He wanted both roles played by the same actress -  his Kate Hepburn.
  7. Lucille Ball,  Best Foot Forward, 1942.   When Columbia’s detested chieftain Harry Cohn couldn’t get Rita Hayworth and Shirley Temple for a film of the Broadway hit, he let MGM buy him out for $150,000.  Enter Turner as herself - until her pregnancy meant that Lucy, the Queen of the Bs finally got an A. Lana’s baby  was Cheryl Crane  who grew up to, if it pleases the court, to save her mother ‘s life…Crane was   charged,  at age 15, with stabbing her Turner’s gangster lover, Johnny Stompanato, to death.  The girl  said she was protecting her mother from an assault and the court agreed: justifiable homicide.  The gay Crane later became a real-estate agent, with her partner of 30-plus years, Jocelyn "Josh" LeRoy.
  8. Judy Garland, Presenting Lily Mars, 1942.   Lana was busy and couldn’t handle two dramas at once. While poor Judy was already shooting Girl Crazy and her number for the Thousands Cheer ensemble when pushed into the (now) musical-comedy screwballer. . Not among her best known works. And therefore a cult! Never mind, Meet Me In St Louis was around the next corner.
  9. June Allyson, Music For Millions, 1944.      The start date was too soon after Turner gave birth to Cheryl Crane. Donna Reed, then Susan Peters, finally Allyson, took over as Margaret O’Brien’s older sister. Before selling the script to MGM, Universal planned it as 100 Girls and a Man in answer to its One Hundred Men and a Girl.
  10. Angela Lansbury,  The Harvey Girls, 1945.     The birds  are waitresses at the famous 1880s’ Fred Harvey restaurant chain. (MGM accepts any excuse for a Judy Garland musical).  Turner, Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, Ann Sothern, had the good fortune to lose Em - which had poor Lansbury hissed at by the public for  being a rival (on-screen) to everyone’s sweetheart.  Judy! The first idea had been  a drama for Clark Gable and Turner. But she was  was too busy with her  tycoon lover, Howard Hughes. Then, producer Arthur Freed (like who else) decided it should be a musical for Gable and Garland. Just back from WWII, Gable refused to return in a %$#@& musical! He went into the more dramatic Adventure... and Turner waited for Gable’s final MGMovie in 1954: Betrayed.

  11. Audrey Totter,  Lady in the Lake, 1946.    MGM plans in 1945 to turn the Raymond Chandler story into a Lana vehicle changed when the suits “nullified”   Totter’s loan-out for Universal’s The Killers - and gave  the ex-radio actor her first star billing opposite Robert Montgomery as Philip Marlowe and debuting director utilising the subjective camera technique.  Also in the official cast, Ellay Mort, as the murder victim  :  a phonetic spelling of the French for “she is dead”- elle est morte.
  12. Shelley Winters, A Double Life, 1947.     Six girls tested for director George Cukor at Universal - including Lana,  at MGM’s behest. Shelley was the only one he  remembered from his great Scarlett O’Hara hunt, when she was l3.

  13. Linda Darnell, Forever Amber, 1947.    
    Lana and Otto - Chapter One…  Fox production boss Darryl Zanuck called up director Otto Preminger: “John Stahl is making a lousy job of it [with his  UK Amber] and you must start it over.” OK, with Lana Turner!   “No,” rasped  Zanuck, “Darnell or nothing,”  Preminger gave a dinner party and invited, among others,  Zanuck and Lana. “It's up to you now,” Preminger advised her. “She did her best. She flirted shamelessly with Zanuck, at one point sitting on his lap.  But  he wouldn't change his mind. I gave in. I had to….      The worst  picture I ever made. An ogre maybe, but,  at least,  an honest one!

  14. Ava Gardner, The Great Sinner, 1948.       Oh dear… "The story is inspired by the work of a great writer, a gambler himself, who played for his life and won immortality."  And that is the demi-credit for the adapted novella The Gambler by the un-named Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. Adding insult to injury, the working title was The Gamblers…. covering Gregory Peck and  and Gardner. It was such a flop that German director  Robert Siodmak refused to admit that he had actually made it!
  15. Hedy Lamarr, Samson and Delilah, 1948.      Apart from such inevitables as Turner and Rita Hayworth, pompous director CB DeMille had some bizarre notions for his Delilah. The veteran Laraine Day (31), song ’n’ dancer Betty Hutton, demure Nancy Olson and the way too young Jean Simmons (19).   Most of their studios were not interested any loan deals. Or not with CB. His film might hit bihg, bolster the sctress’ status and she would then demand more pay from her home studio contract!
  16. Jennifer Jones, Madame Bovary, 1949.     What a notion! Lana was ousted as her image plus the erotic plot loomed large as a Breen Office censorship battle. Hollywood sniggered as Jones stated her role of a young  mother deserting husband and child to gain romance and social status was “completely out of keeping with my own personality.” D’oh! It was an exact, mirror-image of her desertion of actor Robert Walker and their sons for producer David Selznick.
  17. Hedy Lamarr, Samson and Delilah, 1949.     MGM refused the loan out deal requested by Paramount.
  18. June Allyson, The Reformer and The Redhead, 1949.   Turner had once been set - just not in concrete - as the hot-tempered daughter fighting for the job of her zoo-keeper father. And falling for their lawyer: Robert Taylor.   They were switched into the great couple (on-screen and off), Allyson and Dick Powell, in the first of three films together.
  19. Barbara Stanwyck, To Please A Lady, 1949.    Turner was announced as Clark Gable's co-star in the fast moving motor-racing drama- then quickly dethroned by La Barb. Director Clarence Brown had been a car test driver before running a car sales agency. Imagine that.  A car salesman becomes a director… only in Hollywood! 
  20. Deborah Kerr, Quo Vadis, 1950.     Took America 26 years to film Henryk Sienkiewicz’s 1895 epic novel about ancient Rome. MGM won the rights in 1925. And planned to shoot the ancient Rome  epic in  1935…or ’42… or ’43… By 1950,  Turner was in  director William Wyler’s mix for Lygia.

  21. Judy  Holliday,  Born  Yesterday,  1950.      Columbia's crude chief Harry Cohn spent the first $1m for a play - written for Jean Arthur - as a Rita Hayworth vehicle.  As she swanned around  Europe with the Aly Khan,  Cohn preferred Arthur, Turner, Alice  Faye, Paulette Goddard, Gloria Grahame, Celeste Holm, Evelyn Keyes, Marie McDonald, Marilyn Monroe, Jan Sterling  - anyone other than  “the fat Jewish broad,”  the understudy who had made the play a hit. Katharine Hepburn waged a campaign to change Cohn’s mind, by virtually turning Judy’s support role in Tracy and Hepburn’s Adam’s Rib into the most elaborate screen test. An act of generosity unsurpassed in  Hollywood history.   Cohn gave in, gracefully. “Well, I've worked with fat assess before!” He paid a  meagre $4,500 to the actress who   did the impossible - and wrested Oscar from Bette Davis in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd on March 29, 1951 Judy also won  Kate for a lover - Hepburn’s final lesbian  affair at a  mere 43.
  22. Shelley Winters, My Man and I, 1951.     Shelley at her best showd just why Lana was never right for the alcoholic Nancy. Anyway, imagine a poster with the first title and star: Lana Turner Shameless. Owch!
  23. Esther Williams, Easy To Love, 1952.       Once Turner left andf Williams dived in - everything became very…wet.
  24. Arlene Dahl, Sangaree, 1952.   The Paramount pot-boiler changed titles (from Savannah) and lovers, from Turner and Clark Gable to Dahl amnd Fernando Lamas. (They wed in 1964 - for six years).
  25. Ava Gardner, Mogambo, 1953.     MGM have her three choice of two movies. “The Mogambo script didn't appeal to me, and I elected to do Flame and the Flesh. A big mistake! Ava Gardner took the Mogambo role and played it beautifully, but with a script very different from the one I read.”  So there was one agent missing his Christmas hamper…
  26. Tamara Toumanova, Deep In My Heart, 1954.    "To all those who love the music of Sigmund Romberg." Turner, Linda Christian (Mrs Tyrone Power) and  Eva Gabor were playing musical chairs for leggy French chanteuse Gaby Deslys in the star-stuffed bio-musical.   Cyd Charisse, Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone, Howard Keel, Tony Martin,  Ann Miller, Jane Powell, Russ Tamblyn… even Gene Kelly dancing with his brother Fred.
  27. Susan  Hayward,  Untamed,  19545.     Everyone from Joan Crawford and Lana to Eleanor Parker and Jane Wyman wanted what Fox called “Africolossal.”  Time magazine, however,  called it  “a Zulu lulu.”
  28. Lauren Bacall, The Cobweb,  1954.     Being a neglected wife was, perhaps, too close to home.
  29. Maureen O'Hara, The Magnificent Matador, 1955.     Like Ava Gardner, Lana simply refused to work with Anthony Quinn. Whereas O’Hara was enchanted with him,  reported  writer-director Budd Boetticher.
  30. Rossana Podesta, Helen of Troy, 1956.      Director Robert Wise displayed little  wisdom  when  selecting a curvy  Italian with limited English  over Lana, Yvonne De Carlo, Rhonda Fleming, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor.  And all the time,. stuck in a minor role, he had the perfect face to launch a thousand ships. That of... .  Brigitte Bardot. 
  31. Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1956. On veteran Hollywood director George Stevens’ list of 30 potential Leslie Benedicts.  Thirty!  Such a list would be impossible today.
  32. Cyd Charisse,  Meet Me In Las Vegas, 1956.     Producer Joe Pasternak’s idea for Lana-Carlos Thompson was re-scored for Charisse-Dan Dailey - with Cyd’s husband Tony Martin topping the Vegas guest stars.
  33. Jean Wallace, Maracaibo (aka Violent Venezuela) 1957.     With Turner in mind, Universal shelled out for the first novel by future Oscar-winning scenarist Stirling Silliphant. Lana had other ideas. Namely, The Lady Takes a Flyer, with Jeff Chandler. Paramount pounced for Cornel Wilde’s Theodora Productions. Which meant Wilde as director and the oil-man hero and, of course, Mrs Wilde as The Girl.
  34. Elizabeth Taylor, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, 1957.   Considered for Maggie the Cat alongside Carroll Baker, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly. Playwright Tennessee Williams  hated the movie and told the queues: “This movie will set the industry back 50 years. Go home!” Then, he took his cheque to the bank.
  35. Eva Marie Saint, Raintree County, 1957.     She  also lost “the  next Gone With The  Wind” - first  planned in 1949  for Lana, Ava Gardner, Robert Walker, Van Heflin.
  36. Kim Novak, Vertigo, 1957.      In the summer of ’56, Turner was Alfred Hitchcock’s choice for Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton. Problem? “She  wanted too much loot.”   Jean Wallace was shortlisted, then Vera Miles -but she was pregnant. Hitch borrowed Novak from Columbia.  In the 2012 Sight & Sound critics’ poll,  Vertigo replaced Citizen Kane as the greatest film of all time. Hitch would not agree. He felt Novak was all wrong and  Stewart too old - the reason why the film flopped.  Hitch never worked with Jim again.

  37. Lee Remick, Anatomy of a Murder, 1958.   
    Lana and Otto - Chapter Two…Obviously she didn’t think slacks went with sitting on laps...  She didn’t approve the designs of producer-director Otto Preminger’s costumier (and future wife) Hope Bryce.  Lana wanted a wardrobe far too ritzy for an US Army wife   -  by the fashionable Jean Louis. “Besides,” thundered Preminger, “I and nobody else determined what the actors wear in my films. Lana’s  agent, Paul Kohner, said:  ‘Sorry, she won’t do it.’  ‘Fine,’ I said, ‘send me a letter stating that she would like to cancel her contract unless her clothes are designed byJean Louis.  I will release her immediately. Kohner knew that Columbia was anxious to have her in the film and assumed I was bluffing.  He sent the letterand I released her.  When Columbia executives learned about it, they were very upset.  They even offered to pay Jean Louis' salary without charging it to the picture. I refused and signed Lee Remick [already selected for Kathryrn Grant’s role] who became a star with the part.”

  38. Shelley Winters, Let No Man Write My Epitaph, 1959. Ten years earlier, Willard Motley's novel, Knock on Any Door, bred such a successful movie that Columbia czar Harry Cohn made sure he got the sequel. Not a hit. Cohn should have kept Lana as Nellie Romano.

  39. Margaret Leighton, The Sound And The Fury, 1959.     For once Lana  was replaced by a real  actress for this trip deep  into  William Faulkner country.

  40. Janet Leigh, Psycho, 1960.   IMDb's “modern sources” indicated that Alfred Hitchcock took his time to find his shock shower-murder  victim in his most famous film. His check-list for Marion Crane included Angie Dickinson, Martha Hyer, Shirley Jones, Hope Lange, Piper Laurie, Lee Remick, Eva Marie Saint , even Lana Turner. Paramount considered buying rights to Bloch’s book in February 1959, but the reader who synopsized the advance copy submitted to the studio called the novel "too repulsive for films, and rather shocking even to a hardened reader."

  41. Bette Davis, Dead Ringer, 1963.     Robert Aldrich was at the helm when Turner refused to play twins (good and bad). Davis passed on a Sinatra Clan cameo in 4 For Texas to make the horror film because she’d been here before - twinning A Stolen Life, 1945. Aldrich and Davis had made Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? the year before but when she turned up for Ringer,  her director was her Now, Voyager two-cigarettes-lighting co-star Paul Henreid.
  42. Anne Bancroft, The Graduate, 1967.    On producer Lawrence Turman’s handwritten wish list of a dozen stars (Ingrid, Ava to Jeanne, Shelley) for Mrs Robinson. Director Mike Nichols was less interested in  flash  than Annie, who greatly resembled his  ex-comedy partner. Elaine May.








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