Michael Wilding


  1. Rex Harrison, St Martin’s Lane, 1938.    The second assistant director was a teenager called Lewis Gilbert (future Alfie/007 director). Among his chores was delivering call-sheets to Wilding’s West End theatre dressroom at night.Hence, the lad was told, basically, to sack the star. “I’m very sorry, Mr Wilding, but they don’t want you tocome in tomorrow morning…They’re finding another actor.”
  2. Errol Flynn, That Forsyte Woman, 1948.    MGM  won  the rights to John Galsworthy’s The Forstye Saga in 1937 – and never knew what to do with it.  Instead of the full trilogy, the studio planned a re-titled version of the the first book, The Man of Property, with Joseph L  Mankiewicz directing Franchot Tone as the stuffy banker, Soames Forsyte, and La Crawford as his  unfaithful wife, Irene.  Two more attempts in 1939 and 1945  – with Clark Gable and Michael Wilding as Soames –  never flew, either.
  3. Jean-Pierre Aumont, Lili, 1952. At first, MGM wanted “someone along the lines of Michael Wilding” as Marc.   Or the French version thereof… 
  4. John Lund, Latin Lovers, 1953.    New to MGM as the husband of Elizabeth Taylor (second marriage for both), the suave British charmer was furious at being  offered a second banana role, losing Lana Turner to Fernando Lamas  – who also quit,  passing first banana to Ricardo Montalban. Until Lund completed the role, Wilding stayed suspended, while Liz was already on  half-pay awaiting her first child, Michael Wilding Jr.  Hey, welcome to Hollywood!  Where Wilding became, allegedly,  the lover of Stewart Granger.
  5. Bill Travers, Bhowani Junction,  1955.    MGM  made John Masters’  India novel in… Pakistan! After  quickly selecting Ava Gardner and Stewart Granger and proving undecided about Taylor, the oafish “cheechee”  railway station manager.   Wilding, Edmund Purdom or Cornel Wilde?  Purdom simply split, and  for some reason, Travers knocked the other two out of the park.  Because he was surly and lost looking?  
  6. André Morell, Pickup Alley, 1956.    Terrible title for a thriller underlining how Interpol was the longest arm of the law. As Trevor Howard tracked drugs smuggler Victor Mature across Athens, Genoa, Lisbon, Paris and Rome. Co-produced by Cubby Broccoli, who once thought of Howard for a certain 007. The working title The Most Wanted Woman, referred to Anita Ekberg’s rôle.
  7. James Donald,  The Great Escape, 1962.       Some Brits were not pleased (rightfully)  by the way Hollywood had taken over the UK’s cottage industry of WWII POW escapes….  US director John Sturges said Wilding had to drop out of being RAF Group Captain Ramsey, the Senior British Officer at Germany’s  Stalag Luft III – scene of a mass break-out of British Commonwealth POWs on on March 24, 1944. (But no Americans as Hollywoodised it for three of Sturges’ Magnificent Seven could tackle WWII: Charles Bronson. James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Plus James Garner. US prisoners were moved from the prison camp seven months before the titular escape).

 Birth year: 1912Death year: 1979Other name: Casting Calls:  7