Norman Kerry

  1. John Gilbert, The Merry Widow, 1925.    Co-star Mae Murray kept complaining that Erich von Stroheim was making a porno movie…!   After working together on Merry-Go-Round, 1922, the turbulent (ie expensive) director wanted his pal, Kerry, as Prince Danilo. MGM’s production chief, Irving Thalberg, who had already taken their previous  venture  away from them, said: No.   And Thalberg’s word was law in Culver City..
  2. John Gilbert, Love, 1927.    Losing to Gilbert again. At least, Kerry got to play the part this time… The retitled Anna Kareninastarted with Garbo and Ricardo Cortez, directed by Russian Dimitri Buchowetzki. MGM’s house geniuis, Irving Thalberg hated it, threw it out and had it made over by Edmund Goulding with Kerry as Garbo’s lover, Vronskly. Hmm, not much better.  OK, Take Three – get Gilbert and his favourite camerace William H Daniels. Thalberg was delighted. So were the posters:  John Gilbert Greta Garbo in Love.
  3. Walter Byron, Queen Kelly, 1931.     Changing the dissolute Prince Wolfram from Kerry to The Styar’s choice of Byron was just one of the succession of egoes and errors assassinating Erich von Stroheim’s melodramatic nonsense.  Joseph Kennedy (JFK’s father) put up most of the budget to please his lover, silent screen star Gloria Swanson – and yes,  when  she was  playing silent star Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd and watching one of her old movies, this is the one.  Swanson had Kennedy sack the Von and set about deleting/adding scenes (but not the new talkie sound) for a 75 minute insult release in Europe only.  Stroheim‘s contract kept it off US screens until 1967 (with a newly unearthed 20 minutes), followed by a more fully restored, sumptuous print in 1985 which proved that the director was never the problem  but the star.  Looking 40 at 31, Swanson was way too old for the Irish virgin convent girl ending up as the titular brothel owner in Africa.  Kerry would have been perfect for Stroheim’s 1926 Wedding March lead Fay Wray. But then, she wasn’t in Kennedy’s bed. By 1932, her boyfriend was King Kong.


 Birth year: 1894Death year: 1956Other name: Casting Calls:  2