Janet Gaynor

  1. Rose Hobart, Liliom, 1930.       First set for the popular team of Gaynor-Charles Farrell. However, America’s second sweetheart (after Mary Pickford) wanted a change of pace and went to Hawaii on suspension for seven months before returning…   to play a junkie cabaret singer in The Man Who Came Back, 1931.   “Positively the worst picture I ever made.”
  2. Marian Nixon, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, 1932.        Nixon was re-born when taking over the Rebecca refused by Gaynor led to co-starring with Spencer Tracy in Face In The Sky, 1932.   Nixon had 75 screen roles in  silent movies, talkies and TV and was the finalwife of Ben Lyon… the man who gave a Fox starlet the name of Marilyn Monroe. 
  3. Rochelle Hudson, Way Down East, 1934.       An accidental clash of heads with co-star Henry Fonda leading to fainting on-set two days later, forced Gaynor out of a second teaming with Fonda following his debut that year in The Farmer Takes A Wife. She was succeeded by Hudson, the “champ loaner-outer” first at RKO, then (and this was the last time) at Fox. There were some suggestions that Gaynor over-egged her injuries to get out of the re-hash of DW Griffth’s 1920 silent classic with Lilian Gish.
  4. Barbara Stanwyck, Banjo On My Knee, 1936.      The gilt was off the gingerbread. Darryl F Zanuck, production boss of the new, amalgamated 20th Century Fox, was just   not interested in her.  Well, she was not French!
  5. Simone Simon, Seventh Heaven, 1937.       Nor was she interested in Darryl Zanuck’s re-make plans.   His first of many French imports was expected to be the next Gaynor but this was not visible when they were both   Ladies In Love, 1936.
  6. Margaret Sullavan, The Shop Around The Corner, 1939.      While waiting months for his desired couple, Sullavan and James Stewart, from 1938’s The Shopworn Angel, comedy genius Ernst Lubitsch casually knocked off what many call his masterpiece, Ninotckha!    He still maintained that Shop was “the best picture I ever made in my life.”
  7. Carole Lombard, Nothing Sacred, 1939.        Hazel Flagg was meant for Gaynor, to cash in on her Star Is Born triumph. Instead, it became Lombard’s favourite movie. The 1953 re-make starred… Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Go figure.
  8. Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday, 1940.      Among the many who said no.
  9. Mary Astor, The Maltese Falcon, 1940.      Who didn’t want to be Brigid O’Shaugnessy:  “I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.”  She was the film noir Scarlett O’Hara and three potential Scarletts were in anew battle: Joan Bennett, Paulette Goddard, Brenda Marshall. Also delighted at being seen were: Gaynor, Ingrid Bergman, Olivia de Havilland, Betty Field, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Rita Hayworth. The rest were livid about not being good enough for bad Brigid… and her just desserts. “If you’re a good girl, you’ll be out in 20 years,” Bogie’s Sam Spade tells her.  “I’ll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I’ll always remember you.”
  10. Miriam Hopkins, Old Acquaintance, 1943.    Cast opposite her nemesis, Bette Davis, Hopkins began pitching for double Bette’s salary, autonomy over make-up and wardrobe. Director Edmund Goulding began looking elsewhere – before he went elsewhere.


 Birth year: 1906Death year: 1984Other name: Casting Calls:  10