James Gleason

  1. Frank Albertson Travelling Husbands, 1930.      Psst ! You heard the one about the travelllig salesmen… ? No, well, this was it – RKO #536. With Gleason and Mae Clarke turning into Albertson and Evelyn Brent.

  2. William Boyd, Hop-A-Long Cassidy, 1934.      The Runyonesque   Irishman (more used to driving cabs than horses, and playing cops and Pops and Joe Palooka’s manager) proved too expensive for first film of Clarence E Mulford’s Western hero.   Next choice: David Niven!   Boyd, ex-silent star for directors DW Griffith and Cecil B DeMille, made 66 Hoppy films.   There was a villain in seven of them who was greatly influenced by Boyd’s underplaying… Robert Mitchum.

  3. Richard Lane, Gung Ho, 1942.     Or, as the credits rolled it: Gung Ho! The Story of Carlson’s Makin Island Raiders, from inception weeks after Pearl Harbor through its first victory. Gleason had to pass on Capitan Dunphy  due to  his role in one of Spielberg’s favourites:  A Guy Named Joe.
  4. George Barbier, Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air, 1942.   Not the puppet show… Change of Colonel Cyrus P “Gramps” Saunders in what was first called A Tommy in the USA… as a companion piece to A Yank in the RAF. (It wasn’t).

  5. Burgess Meredith, Story of GI Joe, 1943. Pulitzer Prize-winning US WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle was revered by his public as saint, seer and common man.  So producer Lester Cowan naturally first thought of Fred Astaire and Gary Cooper, then James Gleason or Fred MacMurray. Plus two total amateurs: Pittsburgh radio sports jock, Albert Kennedy “Rosey”Rosewell, and an Ernie clone called John M Waldeck: a streetcar conductor nominated for the role by 1,200 St Louisians. Pyle voted for Meredith, a serving US Army captain at the time. Pyle never saw the film – he was killed during the 1945 Okinawa invasion two months before the premiere. 


 Birth year: 1886Death year: 1959Other name: Casting Calls:  5