Maria Montez

  1. Rita Hayworth, Blood and Sand, 1940.    Good thinking!  The gorgeous  Dominican Maria Africa Antonia Gracia Vidal de Santo Silas was high in the frame for Fox’s sexiest role of the year – the manipulative socialite vamp, Doña Sol,  toying with Tyrone Power’s matador in the re-hash of Rodolpho (sic)  Valentino’s 1921 silent classic. Also considered: Betty Grable, Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour Carole Landis, Mona Maris, Jane Russell,  Gene Tierney – and Lynn Bari, compensated  with the support role of Encarnacion. And Finally, this became Rita Hayworth’s first Technicolor film… even if her singing had to be dubbed by Rosita Granada.  Another re-tread in 1957 for, almost obviously, Sophia Loren, never happened.
    Marlene Dietrich, The Flame of New Orleans, 1941.    Montez was held (quietly) in reserve, in case Marlene Dietrich disliked the way French director René Clair was having enormous fun with her image.
  2. Marie McDonald, Pardon My  Sarong, 1942.   “The Caribbean Cyclone” wanted a change from exotica. And, anyway, wasn;t Dorophty Lamour the Sarong Queern? And anyway wasnt Dorohty Lamour The Sarong Queen. McDonald was an odd replacement, nothing Spanish about her.  Known as The Body, she was a champion self-promoter: a fake kidnapping in 1956, seven marriages, countless affairs: Bruce Cabot, Vic Damone, Eddie Fisher, Cuban millionaire Jose Novak, gangster Busgy Siegel. Michael Wilding… before ODing on on Percodan in 1965. Montez’s second husband was French star Jean-Pierre Aumont, from 1943 to her death.  Their actress daughter,  Tina Aumont,  worked with Bertolucci,  Commencini, Losey, Rossi  plus Felliini (twice) and Tinto Brass (thrice). 
  3. Yvonne de Carlo’s, Fontier Gal, 1947.    The Universal programmer’s star couple, Montez and Jon Hall, became De Carlo and Rod Cameron. It happens. (Well, Montez simply refused to play.). And so, De Carlo won the next Cameron gig that year, as well. River Lady. Final result:   Montez, 0 – De Carlo, 2.

  4. Hedy Lamarr, Samson and Delilah, 1948.   
    Cinemperor Cecil B DeMille’s 1935 plan had been had Henry Wilcoxon with Joan Crawford, Larraine Day, Dolores Del Rio, Paulette Goddard, Jane Greer or Miriam Hopkins.   Next in line, producer David O Selznick envisaged Kirk Douglas and Marlene Dietrich… By ’48, CB got serious.  He sought a mix of Vivien Leigh, Jean Simmons and “a generous touch of Lana Turner” from among… Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Rhonda Fleming (the Queen of Babylon, 1954), Ava Gardner, Greer Garson (Mrs Miniver!!), Susan Hayward (1951’s Bathsheba), Rita Hayworth (the future Salome), Jennifer Jones (St Bernadette in 1943), Patricia Neal, Maureen O’Hara, Nancy Olson (too demure), Jean Peters, Ruth Roman, Gail Russell, Ann Sheridan, Gene Tierney… even such surprises as comical LucIlle Ball (!) and song ‘n’ dancer Betty Hutton.  Plus the Dominican Maria Montez (perfect!), Italian Alida Valli and two Swedes: Viveca Lindfors and Marta Toren.  But CB had already fancied Lamarr for his unmade epic about the Jewish queen Esther (played by Joan Collins in 1960).  Here’s a Samson review signed Groucho Marx: “No picture can hold my interest where the leading man’s bust is larger than the leading lady’s!”

  5. Maria Casarés, Orphée, France, 1950. It is always a shock to realise that the actor, auteur,  designer (of sets and credit titles), narrator, novelist, painter, playwright and poet Jean Cocteau never wrote Orphée for his longtime lover Jean Marais but for the older Aumont.  And his wife, La Montez, as as The Princess… aka Death.  Finally, jean Marais won the lead (no, really!) while Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo both refused to be Death.  Another Maria played the role  and Montez was dead within a year

 Birth year: 1912Death year: 1951Other name: Casting Calls:  65