Loretta Young

  1. Ruby Keeler, 42nd Street, 1932.   “Sawyer, you’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” – the line (often misquoted) (aren’t  they all!)  of the musical of all time. It saved Warner Bros from bankruptcy and was still   13th on the AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals list 73 years later!  Loretta was bypassed as Peggy Sawyer by Ruby Keeler (then Mrs Al Jolson) in her first movie. Idem for the incomparable choreographer Busby Berkeley,

  2. Heather Angel, Berkeley Square, 1932.     “I don’t know why I didn’t get that one because I was marvellous in the test and it was for my studio. I only made three tests. Two, I did not get.”

  3. Madge Evans,  Helldorado, 1933.   The passionate affair of Loretta and Spencer Tracy that started a year earlier during A Man’s Castle had run its course. Therefore, she rejected a Fox offer to co-star with him again.No,no,. she had no wish to “start the whole thing over again.”Nor did he; he never turned up for work, was replaced by Richard Arlen, and it was days before Fox found Tracy.And forgave him!
  4. Joan Crawford, Forsaking All Others,1933.     About two pals and the gal one left standing at the altar… Yes, you’re right, another Clark Gable and Best Pal movie. After Miriam Hopkins, Loretta Young (a Gable favourite) was next in line before Crawford made the rom-com. Joan was Gable’s greater favourite, his on-off lover during 30 years and their various marriages. 
  5. Maureen O’Sullivan, Hide-Out, 1934.    When told her father was seriously ill, O’Sullivan quit the comedy to rush to Ireland. Young took over as… then she fell ill enough for hospitalisation. O’Sullivan cancelled her trip. Unless it had been about money all the time…
  6. Madeleine Carroll, Lloyds of London, 1935.      Booked for Lady Elizabeth, Young got into a snit about all the film’s emphasis being switched to Tyrone Power’s first starring role. Leading ladies hate it when their leading men are prettier than they are.  Young shot off on a  Hawaiian health cure… which she  needed when finding out that  Fox had  suspended her.  
  7. Annabella, The Baroness and the Butler, 1937.       A year earlier, Young and Warner Baxter were due to film the play, Jean (a him, not her), when the project was chopped. Without missing a beat, Fox frogmarched them into Wife, Doctor and Nurse. Jean was changed to Johanne when Powell buttled anew (he had been My Man Godfrey) while introducing the adorable Annabella to US audiences.
  8. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  9. Constance Bennett, Tail Spin, 1938.     The most beautiful of the Bennett girls succeeded first choice Young as the socialite busy with flying, parachuting, love affairs and a cross-country aerial derby with rival Alice Faye. Guys? There were guys? Dunno as the gals (including Nancy Kelly and Joan Davis) stole the entire movie.
  10. Wendy Barrie, Day-Time Wife, 1938.   Young refused to be the secretary, her boss Tyrone Power was playing around with.  What and have second billing  to Power and 16-year-old Linda Darnell – no, no and no! 

  11. Joan Fontaine, Rebecca, 1939.
  12. Linda Darnell, Day-Time Wife, 1939.   Loretta refused second billing to the new Fox star, Tyrone Power. Poor Nancy Kelly never got close once Head Fox Darryl F Zanuck set his eyes on Linda Darnell in  her  debut, Hotel For Women, 1938. The Dallas beauty was 15, posing as 17 and called 19 on her contract. (And they complained about Lolita!) DFZ almost ruined her career when she rebuffed his moves on her.  Linda looked old and endowed enough to be wed.  “I would be kissing Tyrone Power and the school teacher would come and tell me it was time for my history lesson. I never before or since have been so embarrassed.”  Ty wasn’t. He made three more films with her. 
  13. Rosalind Russell, This Thing Called Love, 1940.    Just like the 1928 version (Constance Bennett replacing Ann Harding) Russell succeeded Young as the newly-wed trying to persuade hubby to let them remain celibate for three months in order to… well, make a delicious comedty as Melvyn Douglas tries all ruses to penetrate her defences. And wouldn’t you know it, the Legion of Decency forbade it for Catholics for being against the Christian concept of marriage, yadda yadda, yadda . F Scott Fitzgerald attended the Hollywood premiere – and died the next day, December 21, 1940. Says it all.
  14. Ruth Hussey,  Our Wife, 1940.   Evolution of a screen couple… Jean Arthur and Cary Grant in 1938 became Young and Grant in ’39, Grant and Rita Hayworth in ’40… finally, Douglas and Ruth Hussey. Not the same chic-to-chic at all.
  15. Merle Oberon, Affectionately Yours, 1940.  Warners was trying to borrow Young from Fox when her intended husband, Errol Flynn, passed the global lothario to Dennis Morgan – wed to Oberon, chased by Rita Hayworth. 
  16. Carole Landis, A Gentleman At Heart, 1941.   The treatment written for Don Ameche (as a Runyonesque bookmaker) had him opposite Annabella or Simone Simon. Next draft? Annabella’s ex-husband, Tyrone Power and Loretta Young. Finally, Romero had Carole Landis.
  17. Ona Munson, The Shanghai Gesture, 1941.    Even with Josef von Sternberg driving, this was a censored vehicle about drugs, nymphomania and prostitution. In something of a bad joke, the famously pure Young was offered the rôle of casino boss Madame Gin Sing… who was Mother Goddamn on Broadway and ran a brothel. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther found the film “so very badly acted in every leading role but one that its single redeeming feature is that it finally becomes laughable.”
  18. Merle Oberon, Affectionately Yours, 1941.   Young and Errol Flynn became Merle Oberon and Dennis Morgan. The switch didn’t spoil the fun at all.  Her children loved it, but Oberon thought it ”a real dud… I hate it!”  She wuz wrong. Obviously just hating the (many) scenes stolen by Rita Hayworth.
  19. Dorothy McGuire, Claudia, 1943.     Another disappointment for Gretchen Michaela Young, the prim and puritanically proper Catholic (she fined fellow actors for swearing on set) who hid the “scandal” of having (and adopting) a daughter after sleeping with Clark Gable on the train home from the locations of Call of the Wild, 1935. The daughter, Judy Lewis, was told the truth at age… 31.

  20. Linda Darnell, The Song of Bernadette, 1943.    
    In  the story of the  French girl who had a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858…. Who should portray her actual vision? The Roman Catholic furore doubled about the project  doubled  when the saintly Young was dropped for sexy Linda Darnell. And worse,  Darnell was pregnant. As if the Virgin Mary never had been. Or Loretta…   All Hollywood (and years later,  all America) knew about her daughter, Judy, from a Clark Gable affair.  Darnell was a  controversial choice as her reputation was hot, to say the least. Franz Werfel, author of book being filmed, threatened to remove his name, and support, from the enterprise.  Head Fox Darryl Zanuck said OK, an unknown would have the role. He lied. Darnell was The Lady. In a bright light. Making her anonymous.

  21. Jane Wyman, Magic Town, 1946.    After Janet Blair and Arleen Whelan, Young won Mary Peterman, in Grandview – the perfect  mirror-image town of mid-American values says opinion-pollster James Stewart.  Director Wild Bill Wellman finally borrowed] Wyman from Warner when The Steel Butterfly fell ill. If ever a film needed Frank Capra…
  22. Rosalind Russell, A Woman of Distinction, 1949.  The fact that the genius Frank Capra off-loaded this project on to Columbia must have warned Young, Russell, Jean Arthur and Joan Fontaine off the slapsticky romcom with Cary Grant – well, no, it was Ray Milland in the end. Fine but he was no Grant and this was no Bringing Up Baby.
  23. Bette Davis, All About Eve, 1950. 
  24. Joan Fontaine, Ivanhoe, 1951.  MGM first announced the film in 1935 for Frederic March as the hero opposite Fontaine as Lady Rowena, with King Richard aimed, unbelievably, at Gary Cooper. Yup! The title was a place not a person:  the gallant Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe. And a sort of rehearsal for Quentin Durward in 1955.  Both mini-epics were by the 19th Century author  Sir Walter Scott, both were made by MGM, both had Richard Thorpe directing Taylor. Difficult to separate one from the other.
  25. Jane Wyman, Magnificent Obsession, 1954.   Queuing up to succeed 1935’s Irene Dunne as the blinded widow heroine (she had it all!) were Joan Crawford, Olivia De Havilland and Loretta Young. .Universal production chief Ed Muhl, had been there (in a lowlier position) in 1935 when the  top tearjerker made a such a superstar of MGM’s Robert Taylor that he was kept home and  never loaned again for 24 years!  “It would have been stupid of me to have forgotten that,” said Muhl.  Which is why he arranged for his re-make to do exactly the same for Rock Hudson. “He was ready!” (Despite often needing up to 40 takes for a  scene). And, as they say, Jane Wyman (the ex-Mrs Ronald Reagan) “graciously accepted him” as her co-star… although  critics thought she looked way  too old for him.
  26. Bette Davis, Storm Centre. 1955.  For the first Hollywood movie daring to denounce the McCarthy Witch-hunt Era, director Stanley Kramer had the bright idea of allowing Pickford the comeback she wanted. She was delighted with real-life story of a small Oklahoma town’s librarian, Ruth W Brown, being fired for refusing  to remove a book on Communism from her shelves.  Pickford quit, saying her first film sine 1933 should be in colour. And it was a colour that ruined her casting.  Calling it a pro-red script, Hollywood’s right-wingers, such as the dreaded gossip hen Hedda Hopper, pressured her into leaving  the project.  Also getting the Hopper bullying – tantamount to approving censoring free speech and book-banning –  Irene Dunne, Barbara Stanwyck and Loretta Young fled.  Kramer quit and new team got Bette’s fearless OK.  “An exciting project… a subject I felt important to make a film about. The film was not a success… ‘and not in my opinion, because of the subject matter. I never felt it turned out to be a good picture.” Consequently, it was the only film directed by co-scenarist Daniel Taradash. 
  27. Lana Turner, Imitation of Life, 1958.     Following Young’s success as an ex-con in Because of You, 1952, Universal had talks with her about headlining a dre-make of this aptly named weepie. Then, she shuttered the door on her movie career and opened doors (galore) in her NBC anthology series, 1953-1961.
  28. Deborah Kerr, The Innocents, 1960.    There was talk about Young coming back in  her first cinema film since 1952  – as the sexually repressed governess of  the kiddies in this version of  Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.  Then again, sex and indeed, screw, were not in  Saint Loretta’s lexicon. Or not on-screenn, anyway.
  29. Olivia de Havilland, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, 1963.   A Baby Jane reunion of  Joan Crawford and Bette Davis collapsed  like Crawford – she was immediately  hospitalised. (She later admitted to director chum, Vincent Sherman: “I’m not sick. I just couldn’t stand working another minute with that Bette Davis.”)  Director Robert Aldrich phoned Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh… while Loretta simply fled. “I wouldn’t play a part like that if I were starving.” 
  30. Katharine Hepburn, Rooster Cogburn, 1974.  John Wayne fretted that co-starring two wrinklies would kill the sequel to his Oscar-winning True Grit at the box-office. He had first suggested Ingrid Bergman (65), and wanted to go younger with Mary Tyler Moore (44). Paramount, which should have chosen a better director than Stuart Miller (he never made a third cinema film), switched away from Bette Davis, Maureen O’Hara (Duke’s co-star five times) and Loretta Young and looked at a British trio of Oscar-winners: Glenda Jackson, Vanessa’ Redgrave, Maggie Smith.  Then, someone suggested Kate and Miss Eula Goodnight became a Rose Sawyer reprise. The African Queen Goes West. And  as  pathetic as director Stuart Miller. It was his second feature.  The  “6ft 6ins somafabitch no-talent, ” as  Duke termed him, never made a third.



 Birth year: 1913Death year: 1987Other name: Casting Calls:  30