June Allyson (1917-2006)
Bonita Granville, Ah, Wilderness! 1934. Allyson was first asked to join Ray McDonald as her brother - the youngest siblings in Lionel Barrymore’s family in the MGMovie.
Gloria DeHaven, Two Girls And Sailor, 1942. They had both made other movies, but this was the first starring roles for both MGM actresses. (Idem for Tom Drake). In fact, Allyson was first selected to be her own sister - ie DeHaven’s Jean. Van Johnson was the sailor.
- Donna Reed, Green Dolphin Street, 1946. Forty years later, Reedrecalled she never wanted to be Marguerite because Lana Turner (as her sister Marianne) was gorgeous. “If I play that part, it’ll ruin the picture” - the public would never believe that William would choose chose her over Lana. He didn’t; he muddled their names in his marriage proposal letter…
- Colleen Gray, Nightmare Alley, 1947. Ya cain’t always get wot ya wanna… In handwritten note dated February 1947, head Fox Darryl Zanuck suggested Allyson as Molly. New York Sun critic Gary Giddins said in 2005: “Considering the material - degradation, adultery, alcoholism, murder, larceny, spiritualism, high-stakes cons, and child abuse, set against the Depression scrim of anarchy, racism, desperation, and top-down corruption - we may marvel that the film was made at all.”
- Judy Garland, In The Good Old Summertime, 1948. Pregnant. Garland used to pick up Allysonin her car en route to the MGM studio… where, due to her uncanny weeping-on-cue abilities, Allyson was known as the town crier of MGM - alongside Margaret O’Brien.
- Esther Williams, Take Me Out To The Ball Game, 1948. When Judy Garland had to be replaced as KC Williams (opposite Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra), Allyson was called in first but... still pregnant!
- Judy Garland, Summer Stock, 1949. End of an era… Judy and Mickey Rooney were over.... Gene Kelly subbed as a favour to Judy, whose career and life were in meltdown. This was her first gig since being fired from Annie Get Your Gun. She was down, her weight was up, and her delays many. Allyson was drafted into her place until LB Mayer decided to give Judy a second chance. Her last chance… her last Metro movie as she was sacked from her next…
- Jane Powell, Royal Wedding, 1949. Mrs Dick Powell's “dream role.” But when Fred Astaire twirled her around, “I'd get a little nauseated, have to leave the room.” She shrunk to 89 lbs and saw her doctor: “How pregnant can one little girl get...” Garland replaced her but never turned up, MGM ripped up her contract and Judy tried suicide.
- Evelyn Keyes, Mrs Mike, 1949. June Allyson was suggested for the lead. Of course, she was. Dick Powell, her husband, was the star. And the producer! Also considered for his Mountie’s Bostonian wife: Peggy Cummins, Barbara Bates, Barbara Bel Geddes, Betsy Drake, Joanne Dru, Diana Lynn.
- Jane Wyman, Three Guys Named Mike, 1950. Mike was obviously the in-name of the hour… Allyson was pregnant (with Dick Powell Jr) and Wyman became one of three air stewardess deciding between a pilot, a college prof and a businessman. Mike, every one.
- Gene Tierney, Plymouth Adventure, 1951. Tierney almost lost her cabin on the voyage of the Mayflower - as studio chief Dore Schary preferred using Metro folk only. Or, until he understood the interest his star, Spencer Tracy, had in Tierney.
- Susan Hayward, I’ll Cry Tomorrow, 1955. When MGM voted for Howard and against Allyson for the alcoholic Broadway/Hollywood singing star Lillian Roth, director Charles Walters stormed out and Daniel Mann strolled in. Also in the loop were Roths of all ages… Piper Laurie, 22; Grace Kelly and Jean Simmons, 25; Janet Leigh, 27 ; Jane Russell, 33; and Jane Wyman, like Allyson and Hayward, 37. On Oscarnigh, Hayward lost a fourth time.
- Jane Russell, Foxfire, 1955. Sounds out-to-lunch, but Russell stepped into Allyson's discarded shoes as Jeff Chandler's stuffy wife.
- Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, 1954. Little Miss Allyson in a Marilyn role… !!! Ah, but this was when MGM was trying to secure the rights to the Broadway hit comedy. Head Fox Darryl Zanuck tried harder because his contracted Marilyn was “an absolute must for this story.” Although the Production Code said it could not be filmed. “Adultery must never be the subject of comedy or laughter.”
- Jane Russell, Foxfire, 1954. Say again…? Mousey Allyson was now up for a Jane Russell role! Ya gotta be kiddin’!!! No, it happened. Hollywood was like that in the early 50s. Weird!
- Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1955.
- Eva Marie Saint, That Certain Feeling, 1955. Out-to-lunch - the sequel.
- Joanne Woodward, The Three Faces of Eve, 1956. Husband Dick Powell warned her off it. “Audiences might not have accepted me in the role.” Or roles.