Ruth Chatterton

  1. Betty Compson, The Docks of New York, 1928.    In Hollywood with husband Ralph Forbes, Ruth impressed on stage but Paramount rejected her after several tests.  Emil  Jannings then insisted she join his Sins of  the Fathers  to launch  her 25-year career. 
  2. Jean  Arthur,  The Greene Murder Case,  1929.        Critic James Agate felt Ruth’s talent knocked La Garbo silly.
  3. Helen Hayes, A Farewell To  Arms, 1931.  For the first Ernest Hemingway novel to be filmed,  Paramount desired Boardman, Ruth Chatterton and Claudette Colbert  for Catherine Barkley.  As in Colbert-Fredric March or Gary Cooper-Nancy Carroll orCooper-Boardman. Eleanor was chosen and shot some scenes but Hayes made the movie, although totally  wrong as the  nurse who was  (a) tall and (b) English. Fredric March passed the ambulance driver hero to Coop and Hayes promptly had a major crush on him.
  4. Bebe Daniels, 42nd Street,1932.   Whoever finally won Dorothy Brock – Chatterton or Kay Francis – knew well their co-star, George Brent.  He would make six movies with Kay and four with Ruth – and wed her. For two years. (The Irishman also made 11 films with a one-time lover, Bette Davis).
  5. Pauline Lord, A Feather in Her Hat, 1934.   Chatterton was right to pass on what one of th said “was already creaky with age when it came out in 1935.”   As Broadway’s Anna Christie (a decade before Garbo’’s version), the good Lord did better in theatre. Thjs was her second and last movie.
  6. Carole  Lombard,  Twentieth Century, 1934.       Columbia czar Harry or “King” Cohn also considered such unlikely Howard  Hawks women as Tallulah Bankhead, Constance Bennett, Joan Crawford, Kay Francis, Ann Harding, Miriam Hopkins and Gloria Swanson, 
  7. Kay Francis, The House on 56th Street, 1934.       Kay was taking over as Queen of Warners… 
  8. Kay Francis,  Mandalay, 1934.       Ruth walked out and in Kay’s next (Al Jolson’s Wonder Bar),  Kay’s role was slashed  to make room for Dolores Del Rio.
  9. Barbara Stanwyck, Stella Dallas, 1936.       Producer Sam Goldwyn really wanted Chatterton as his Stella. She did not. Because she’d just played the same role, a failed wife, in Dodsworth. Like all actors, she craved something new, fresh, different. Producers never understood that, which is why they invariably made the same film. (Goldwyn first made Stella Dallas in 1924; Sam Jr regurgitated it as Stella with Bette Midler in 1989).
  10. Pauline Lord, A Feather in Her Hat, 1935.  Chatterton had been first choice for the self-sacrificing mother  of Louis Heyward in what Patrick,  of Three Movie Buffs,com, called “silly and filled with worn-out clichés. The script is laughable. The cast is the only saving grace” With, apparently,  Basil Rathbone stealing everything but the camera..  This was David Niven’s fourth Hollywood film.

  11. Bette Davis,  Jezebel, 1937.       The brothers Warner started negotiating for  Owen Davis’ play in 1935, for Chatterton – even though the Broadway star, Miriam Hopkins, co-owned the rights and would only sell if she was promised the lead. Warner agreed. And, well, Warner just plain lied… Warner’s  $1.25m response to MGM’s Gone With The Wind opened on March 26, 1938 – the day I was born.
  12. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  13. Gertrude Lawrence, The Glass Menagerie, 1949.  The first Tennessee Williams play to be filmed.  By Elia Kazan?   Not at all.  Irving Rapper got the gig, having moved up from, dialogue director to full-time helmer – and surviving three battles with the irascible Bette Davis. For Amanda, the mother of Jane Wyman’s handicapped Laura,(based on Wiilliams’ mother and sister), Warner Bros chose  Tallulah Bankhead – and sacked her on  the second day for being sloshed on-set!  Rapper suggested  Miriam  Hopkins (no way, said Jack Warner), rejected  Ethel Barrymore (too old) and  Ruth Chatterton (too Ruth Chatterton. He said the brass  “positively screamed when I mentioned Bette Davis… That left Gertrude Lawrence, who had little camera experience and was so very jittery she’d cry every time a take was spoiled.”. Later versions were way better, even  those made in Bollywood and Iran..


 Birth year: 1893Death year: 1961Other name: Casting Calls:  13