Piper Laurie


  1. Sally Forrest, Son of Sinbad, 1953.   Sinbad’s gal, Ameer, went from German Ursula Thiess opposite Keith Andes, to Laurie opposite Dale Robertson. Then, Piper fell ill and Forrest was drafted. “If I had stayed in Hollywood, I would have killed myself. Or someone would have done it for me.”
  2. Debra Paget, The Ten Commandments, 1954.
  3. Fran Bennett, Giant,  1955.
  4. Shirley Jones, Oklahoma, 1955.  He saw both but director Fred Zinnemann wanted actors rather than singers. Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Paul Newman, Dale Robertson, Robert Stack, plus singers Vic Damone and   Howard Keel, as Curly… Ann Blyth, Ailene Roberts, Eva Marie Saint, Joanne Woodward and  singers Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell… or even Piper Laurie for Laurey… Ernest Borgnine, Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin, Rod Steiger or Eli Wallach as poor Jud Fry. For a wee while, it looked as if Woodward and future husband Paul Newman would be Laurey and Curly. However, the musical’s parents had casting approval – Rodgers and Hammerstein agreed only about Steiger.  And Oklahoma was played by Arizona!
  5. Pat Crowley, Walk The Proud Land, 1955.    Fed up of rubbishy roles like this one, Laurie requested release from her Universal restraints and went solo… proving her mettle with Oscar nominations for The Hustler, 1960, Carrie, 1976, and Children of a Lesser God, 1986.
  6. Susan Hayward, I’ll Cry Tomorrow, 1955. MGM went through nan odd mix of actresses and ages! (from Piper Laurie at 23 to Jane Wyman at 38) to play the 30s’ alcoholic singer Lilian Roth.  Ann Blyth, Grace Kelly (!), Janet Leigh, Jane Russell, Jean Simmons and  Shelley Winters. Director Charles Walters quit when his choice of June Allyson (no, really!) was rejected (obviously) while Ava Gardner stopped trying to win another 30s chanteuse, Ruth  Etting  in  Love Me or Leave  Me,  to battle  for Roth. After winning Best Actress at the 1956 Cannes festival, Hayward won her fourth Oscar nomination. She won one for  the similar sounding but way heavier I Want to Live! about the 1955 gas chamber execution of alleged killer Barbara Graham. Said her producer Walter Wanger: ‘Thank goodness, we can all relax, Susie’s won the Oscar she has been chasing for 20 years.”
  7. Jean Seberg, Saint Joan, 1957.     Although a trifle old at 25 for the 19-year-old Maid of Orleans, the tyrannical producer-director Otto Preminger was intrigued by Tony Curtis’ regular co-star at Universal: The Prince Who Was A Thief, Son of Ali Baba, Johnny Dark.Preminger also considered such unlikely Joans as Ursula Andress, Julie Andrews, Anne Bancroft, Claire Bloom, Carol Burnett, Joan Collins, Angie Dickinson, Shirley MacLaine, Mary Tyler Moore, Kim Novak (from Otto’sMan With The Golden Arm, 1955), Debbie Reynolds, Maggie Smith, Liz Taylor and…Mamie Van Doren!
  8. Angie Dickinson, Rio Bravo, 1958.

  9. Janet Leigh, Psycho, 1960.     
    “It was a big joke,” Hitchcock told BBC’s Monitor in 1964.”I was horrified to find some people took it seriously.” Aided by his wife, Alma, Hitch took his time selecting his most famous murder victim, Marion Crane.   Angie Dickinson, Martha Hyer, Shirley Jones, Hope Lange, Piper Laurie, Lee Remick, Eva Marie Saint (from his previous North By North West) and Lana Turner all missed the most infamous shower scene of 78 camera angles and 52 cuts in its three minutesshot during December 17-23, 1959, with Leigh and body double Marli Renfro. “Just 52 pieces of film stuck together,” said Hitchcock. Dickinson had her own big shower moment 19 years later in Dressed To Kill.  Of course she did – her director was the infernal Hitch copier, Brian De Palma. Which is why he also also used a body double… and then made a film, called just that. Alexandre O Philippe made a better one, 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene, 2016, telling us all we ever wanted to know about what made Jane Leigh take baths for the rest of her life. As to ace credits designer Saul Bass actually directing the sequence, that’s a whole other story. Janet said he didn’t.  He told me he did!






 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  9