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Don Ameche (1908-1993)



  1. Jean Hersholt, Seventh Heaven, 1936.    Change of Father Chevillon when Ameche - like original lead Tyrone Power - was transferred to  Love Is News by Head Fox  Darryl Zanuck.  (John Carradine had been the replacement before Hersholt). 
  2. Tyrone Power, Lloyds of London, 1935.    Ameche tested as Jonathan Blake, then  director Henry King asked head Fox Darryl  Zanuck to  check a  test of the same scenes with Power - and a star was born. Even Variety agreed: “He’s okay. He's going places. He has looks and he has acting ability. The women ought to go for him in a big way.”    Right. 
  3. Henry Fonda,Drums Along The Mohawk, 1939.     For his first colour movie, John Ford kept changing people - four actors were dropped. Ameche, Warner Baxter, Linda Darnell, Nancy Kelly.
  4. Tyrone Power, Second Fiddle, 1938.   Change of Jimmy Sutton -  a studio publicist discovering Sonja Henie as a skating (what else?) teacher. Ameche was delayed on The Story of Alexander Graham Bell - the reason some people still call the telephone an Ameche.
  5. Robert Preston, The Night of January 16th, 1941.    Ameche was suspended by Fox for refusing to be loaned to Paramount's whodunit. “Rewrite it and I'll go.” They didn't.  He didn't.
  6. John Sutton, A Yank in the RAF, 1940.    One of the Hollywood films preparing Americans for entering WWII - with, therefore,  a happy ending patched on instead of Tyrone Power’s  heroic death because “audiences would resent his dying… and not getting the girl.”   The UK government agreed, not wishing  to show  US audiences  how Americans helping the UK could die… over there.  Actually, head  Fox Darryl Zanuck (who wrote this story) had already decreed that Fox films would always have happy ends following public anger over Power’s Blood and Sand death. 
  7. George Montgomery, Cadet Girl, 1940.   She is not in the Army, just a singer between feuding brothers and their big bands. One is Montgomery’s West Point cadet. So, it should have been Cadet’s Girl.
  8. Victor Mature, Song of the Islands,  1941. Once Joan Davis and Alice Faye were bypassed (in ’37 and ’38), it was always going to be Betty Grable as Eileen.  But who for her Irish beau on the tropical isle of Ahmi-Oni? Ameche, Robert Cummings, John Payne - or Mature, the new kid on the Fox block, who looked and sounded as Irish as Cheetah.
  9. Victor Mature, My Gal Sal, 1941. Fox stars Ameche and George Montgomery were shunted aside by new boy Mature as novelist Theodore Dreiser’s songwriter brother Paul Dresser. (Yes, their surnames are different). Fox suits felt it  bad for  Ameche (ie for Fox) to play another composer after being Stephen Foster in 1939’s Swanee River. The censors fretted more over Dresser’s “sex affairs.”   Is there any other kind worth having? 
  10. John Harvey, Pin Up Girl, 1943.   Before becoming a Betty Grable musical (like who else in ‘43 with a title like that?), it was known as Imagine Us and aimed at Ameche and Linda Darnell. 
  11. Eddie Albert, Green Acres,TV, 1965-1971.   The Ameche comeback had to wait until Trading Places, 1983.  Although the veteran had been the first thought for Oliver Wendell Douglas, the townie lawyer running a farm in... Hooterville! The series was cancelled during the 1971 “rural purge” when, it was said “CBS cancelled every show with a tree in it.”




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