Nancy Olson

  1. 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!”

  2. Patricia Neal, Washington Story, 1951.      MGM tried to loan Paramont’s Olson as the scandal hound reporter trying to dig (or make) up dirt on a Congressman who is too good to be true. Of course he is. He’s Van Johnson. .

  3. Janet Leigh, Confidentially Connie, 1953.    Van Johnson’s partner was quickly changed when MGM execs realised marquees would read: Olson & Johnson…  As if anyone remembered the 40s comedy duo, Olsen & Johnson, in the mid-50s.

  4. Dana Wynter, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956.    She lost participation in  director Don Siegel’s 23-day shoot that resulted in  an sf classic.

  5. Elizabeth Taylor,  Giant, 1956.      The rank outsider in some 30 names examined by veteran US director George Stevens. – he’d started as cameraman on  Laurel & Hardy shorts in 1923.


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