Shirley Booth

  1. Celeste Holm, All About Eve, 1949.
  2. Teresa Wright, The Actress, 1953.    Ruth Gordon wanted Spencer Tracy to play her father in her script of her autobiographical play.  She had already written two of his and Katharine Hepburn’s nine films (Adam’s Rib, Pat and Mike) with husband Garson Kanin. Finding mother was not so easy. Booth was rehearsing a play; Uta Hagen was “stunning” said Kanin, but. Helen Hayes felt too old; Tracy voted Dorothy McGuire (not for the first time),  Maureen Stapleton, Jane Wyman were also listed before director George Cukor felt Teresa had the Wright comedic edge.
  3. Yvonne De Carlo, The Ten Commandments, 1954.
  4. Katharine Hepburn,  Summertime  (UK: Summer Madness), 1955.     Producer Hal Wallis gave up the rights (to director David Lean) when the forever timid Booth refused to film Arthur Laurents’ play. Hepburn could  hardly be more  opposite to Booth but filmed her other stage success, The Desk Set. Kate  had helped make her alleged lover into  a movie star by turning  their  Adam’s Rib into  one long test to show Columbia czar Harry Cohn that “the fat Jewish broad”  could handle the  movie of her Broadway triumph,  Born Yesterday
  5.  Jerry Lewis, Hollywood Or Bust, 1956.     Takes some believing but the final Martin & Lewis film had once been a  vehicle  for Booth and Humphrey Bogart. She would later be a Jerry opposite Dean Martin in the  film of her Broadway  debut, The Bells Are Ringing, 1960, by which time Booth was 37, fat, depressed, forever crying. 
  6. Katharine Hepburn, Desk Set, 1956.     The star of the Broadway play was due to reprise her role except it became respun to suit Hepburn and her guy, Spencer Tracy.   Hepburn doubled as casting director. She vetted all the other ladies: Merry Anders, Diane Jergens, Dina Merrill, Sue Randall. Didn’t want Tracy straying…
  7. Lana Turner, Imitation of Life, 1958.      Producer Ross Hunter planned a musical re-tread of the  1933 weepie in – to star Booth, a recent Oscar-winner, and Ethel Waters.  Title perfectly  summed up the  movies of the director –  Douglas Sirk. 
  8. Bette Davis,  Pocketful of Miracles, 1960.     For what proved his last film, Frank Capra re-made his Lady For A Day  –  and wished he hadn’t. (Or, not with Glenn Ford). The “wonderful slob” in Come Back, Little Sheba was perfect for Damon Runyon’s  drunken hag, Apple Annie – until she saw  the 1933  original. “She came out, red-eyed,”  said Capra, “announced she could never top May Robson –  and ran off.”
  9. Alice Faye, State Fair, 1961.    Booth and TV host Arthur Godfrey were announced as the Frakes, Abel and Melissa, in October 1960.  But Faye and Tom Ewell  made the musical
  10. Maureen Stapleton, Airport, 1970.      Uncomfortable with cameras, Shirley quit cinema in 1958.  Robert Ryan remembered her as a very timid woman, who walked part of the way to work before he explained  she could park her car on the studio lot. For Burt Lancaster,  Shirley was “the finest actress I’ve ever worked with.”

 Birth year: 1898Death year: 1992Other name: Casting Calls:  10