Louis Calhern

  1. Douglass Dumbrille Broadway Bill, 1933.   Calhern was in, then out, as Eddie Morgan in Frank Capra’s racecourse comedy. (Bill is a horse). He re-made it, in far better fettle, as Riding High, with Bing Crosby in 1949.
  2. Cornelius Keefe, Fifth Avenue Girl, 1939.      Ginger Rogers was the gal and Calhern was nearly Tommy Hopkins. The bit finally went to an uncredited Keefe – a lanky veteran of silent, western programmers and universal features. He quit in 1941, returning a decade later as Jack Hill for the last seven of his 79 screen roles, by which time Calhern was among MGM’s top character stalwarts.
  3. Lionel Barrymore, It’s A Wonderful Life, 1945. 
  4. Victor McLaglen,  Many Rivers To Cross, 1954.    Metro regular Calhern had been first choice for Cadmus Cherne, the father of Eleanor Parker who sets her sights on marrying   Kentucky trapper  Robert Taylor. But why? He is as lifeless as she is lively. 
  5. Paul Ford, The  Teahouse of the August Moon, 1956.      Playwright John Patrick recalled “Marlon developed a hero worship for Lou” – Julius Caesar to Brando’s Antony in l953.  “Don’t get upset,” Calhern told everyone suffering language and culture shock in Tokyo, “this is going to  be marvellous picture.”  In fact,  he was the most depressed, telling Brando of impotency with his young bride.  “If anything happens, don’t let them bury me in this Godforsaken place.”  On May 12, 1956, after shooting tests with Brando and Glenn Ford, Calhern died in his hotel room. Brando cabled Patrick: “He was so lonely and unhappy that he really didn’t want to live.” He was succeeded by Broadway’s original Colonel Purdey. Patrick commited suicide aged 90 in 1995.


 Birth year: 1895Death year: 1956Other name: Casting Calls:  5