Sterling Hayden

  1. Richard Carlson, West Point Widow, 1940.      Change of the West Point football hero in what had previously been called Nurses Don’t Tell and Little Miss Muffet. The US-born but Euro-made director Robert Siodmak was less than delighted with his Hollywood debut. “This picture isn’t good enough to be known as a Siodmak pictures.” The New York Times agreed. “As inconsequential as a sneeze.”
  2. Fred MacMurray, The Forest Rangers, 1941.    One ranger – MacMurray replacing Hayden – is snared between a logging  lady and a younger cutie (Susan Hayward and Paulette Goddard, instead of Madeleine Cartoll and Patricia Morison).  Goddard never forgot the film’s song, I’ve Got Spurs That Jingle, Jangle, Jingle. She whistled it in her very next gig that year, The Crystal Ball.
  3. Gary Cooper, For Whom The Bell Tolls,1942.    He’d gone! After just two films, The Most Beautiful Man In Movies had fled Hollywood and his wife (Madeleine Carroll), to  go to  war for real –  in  the OSS.  Anyway, Ernest Hemingway insisted on Cooper and Ingrid Bergman – he’d had them in mind when writing the book. He had previously rejected Robert Donat, Henry Fonda, Clark Gable, Joel McCrea, Ray Milland, Tyrone Power, Robert Preston.
  4. George Montgomery, Lulu Belle, 1947.  The selected lovers of ’46, Dorothy Lamour-Hayden became 47’s Dorothy Lamour-Montgomery – still annoying the Production Code suits, apopletic about “the sins of a woman.” Unacceptable! 
  5. George Reeves, The Sainted Sisters, 1947.  More like diabolical… Veronica Lake and Joan Caulfield were the titular duo hiding out in a Maine township after stiffing a New York businessman for $10,000.  All this while Sam Stoaks changed from Hayden to Reeves. Within four years, he  was typecast for life as… Superman. He died in 1959 – his “suicide or murder?” was investigated the 2006 film, Hollywoodland.  Ironically, Reeves was played by Ben Affleck – the 2015  Batman.
  6. Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955.
  7. Gordon Scott, Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle, 1955.   After five ape man movies and three wives (including Lana Turner) in seven years, Lex Barker wanted out. The loincloth was offered to The Beautiful Blond Viking God (as Paramountdubbed Hayden). He didn’t think twice about refusing. And after six hours of “running, jumping, diving in to the water and helping five girls test for the female lead,” the 11th jungle swinger for the next six films up to 1960 was Las Vegas lifeguard Gordon Werschkull.
  8. John Wayne, Rio Bravo, 1958.
  9. James Coburn, The Magnificent Seven, 1960.     DirectorJohn Sturges had trouble filling the seventh saddle. Veterans like Hayden and John Ireland passed on the silent one(well, he had 11 lines only) with the knife. Robert Vaughn recommended an old schoolmate… Vaughn and Coburn continued to help one another get roles until Coburn’s death in 2002.
  10. Eli Wallach, Poppies Are Also Flowers (aka The Poppy is Also a Flower), TV, Austria-France-US, 1965. UNO planned six telefilms about its work by Kubrick, Preminger, etc.  Only this one  was made when Terence Young gave up a third Bond gig to work with 007 creator Ian Fleming (completing his script) on this star-studded (Yul Brynner, Angie Dickinson, Rita Hayworth, Omar Sharif) battle to stop heroin  reaching Europe. Fleming died before completing the script. Everyone else died on-screen.
  11. Warren Oates, The Shooting, 1965.    Director Monte Hellman mused over Hayden for Willett Gashade in the Utah desert shoot.  Then, he stopped musing and concentrated on  his leading lady (and neighbour), Millie Perkins and  the  star – and scenarist – of the show.  Jack Nicholson!.  They shot this Western back-to-back with another Jack script, Ride The Whirlwind – three weeks per movie.  Hellman took more than  a year to edit them, winning good reviews, cult status and little business.

  12. Oskar Werner, Fahrenheit 451, 1966.    
    As if he didn’t have enough pressures – first film in colour, first in English, a lingo he was far from confident with – French nouvelle vague icon François Truffaut also suffered four years of casting hurdles…. starting with Paul Newman as the fireman hero, Montag. Producer Lewis Allen suggested Hayden, Marlon Brando, Montgomey Clift or Kirk Douglas. Producer Sam Spiegel tried muscling in by promising Robert Redford – and the Burtons! Getting desperate, Truffaut made the mistake of his life by giving the fireman to Werner (originally booked for the fire chief). Any of the others asleep would have been better! The Austrian’s head had been turned by Hollywood since his and Truffaut’s Jules et Jim triumph. Werner argued constantly over (his dull) interpretation, refused one “dangerous” scene (as if a fireman would not have to deal with fire) and even cut his hair to ruin continuity. If not for the six years of planning, Truffaut would have walked. Instead, he simply truncated Werner’s later scenes – and used a double, John Ketteringham, in most of them!

  13. Cyril Cusack, Fahrenheit 451, 1966.      A one point in the six years spent on the project, réalisateur François Truffaut felt Ray Bradbury’s story was too important to be shot in English(!) and tried his past and future stars, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Paul Belmondo as the fireman hero, Montag – and Oskar Werner as his boss. Producer Lewis Allen wanted Hayden in either role; or Richard Burton, Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, Max Von Sydow. Hayden was in London, available and keen after Dr Strangelove, but British Equity required a Brit following the defection of Terence Stamp as Montag. and Michael Redgrave demurred. Enter: the head of the Cusack movie clan: actors Catherine, wife Maureen, Niamh, Sinéad Sorcha, producer Pádraig and director Paul. And son-in-law Jeremy Irons!
  14. William Holden, The Wild Bunch, 1968.
  15. Robert Shaw, Jaws, 1974.     Steven Spielberg wanted the maverick director John Milius as Quint the shark hunter. Universal wanted another maverick – Hayden, The blowhard actor-author thought the Jaws book was shit. He had another problem.  The taxman…   All his acting salaries were  subject to an IRS  levy. Some suits had the idea of paying him union scale for the role – but buying a story from him for very much more as his (little known)  literary income wasn’t levied.  A brighter (or legal)  suit said the IRS would see through such a ploy.   Enter: Shaw, a big hit in the big hit, The Sting…   
  16. Richard Burton, Brief Encounter, TV, 1974.      What to do, what to do… The surprising and  downright stupid) idea of a  brief remake with Sophia Loren for $50,000…   or $100,000 for four weeks of shark-fishing with Steven Spielberg. Answer: Neither!
  17. Eli Wallach, The Deep.. 1976.  In author Peter Benchleyl’s follow-up tp Jaws, all the villians were black. Not a good plan for a movie, pointed out producer Peter Guber In his diary (published before he’d seen the final cut of the movie!). Scenarist Tracy Keenan Wynne solved the problem by having Robert Shaw’s old  friend turning  against him and   joining the villainous Louis Gossett ..”All we have  to do is find an Adam Coffin that can convincingly make such a turnaround and y take the audience with him.” After juggling with Sterling Hayden, Robert Tessier and  Richard Widmark, –  enter Eli Wallach.  Guber’s thornier problem was not the Jaws 2 the makers and public hoped for.
  18. Peter Finch, Network, 1976.    After tenuous thoughts about real TV News anchors (John Chancellor and the venerable Walter Cronkite),  the film’s Oscar-winning writer Paddy Chayefsky wrote to Newman. “You and a very small handful of other actors are the only ones I can think of with the range for this part.”  The others were Hayden (an inspired and rebllious  idea at the time), Cary Grant,  old pals Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, Gene Hackman  and Robert Montgomery – for the  “mad prophet of the airwaves,” Howard Beale. (“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”). Finchey won the first posthumous acting Oscar. Ironically, the second was also for an Aussie,  Heath Ledger, for The Dark Knight… 33 years later.

  19. Donald Pleasence, Halloween, 1978.    
    Hitchcock fan auteur John Carpenter searched high and low for his shrink, Dr Sam Loomis. Peter O’Toole and the Hammer horrors, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee versus Charles Napier, Lawrence Tierney, Abe Vigoda. The $300,00 shoestring budget couldn’t afford any of them! Same for Lloyd Bridges, David Carradine, Kirk Douglas, Steven Hill, Walter Matthau… even such off-the-wallers as John Belushi, Mel Brooks, Yul Brynner, Edward Bunker, Sterling Hayden, Dennis Hopper, Kris Kristofferson… and Dick’s brother, Jerry Van Dyke. Pleasence said he only made the film because his daughter told him to!   She’d loved Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13… He also told Carpenter he’d never t read the script, nor Loomis. “Only later,” said Carpenter, “after [we] became close friends, did I realise he was finding out how much I loved the movie I was making.” Incidentally, Loomis was named after John Gavin’s Psycho character; his screen lover was Janet Leigh, mother of Carpenter’s heroine, Jamie Lee Curtis. So it flows..

  20. Joe Turkell, Blade Runner, 1981.    Co-screenwriter Hampton Fincher said he always had Hayden in mind when writing the billionaire Dr Eldon Tyrell. His evil megacorporation replicants or “skin jobs” (replicants) were genetically manipulated humanoid slaves. And the (often thin) film needed Hayden’s menacing mettle. Turkell came from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, So did the end sequence of Ridley Scott’s film.
  21. Max Von Sydow, Conan The Barbarian, 1982.     First choice for the role of King Osric was ill.  “Never thought we’d get Max,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger, as if he had  ever heard of him.
  22. Albert Finney, Breakfast of Champions, 1999.      Who better for the bizarre sf writer Kilgore Trout…?  Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis bought the Kurt Vonnegut satire for Robert Altman to repeat his 1974 Nashville triumph with. But first, they would succeed wjth Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson. Being as long-winded as the title, that flopped and  Dino took Altman’s Breakfast away. Bob’s cast had included the Peter Falk as Dwayne Hoover, Alice Cooper for his son, Bunny, Sterling Hayden as Kilgore Trout and Ruth Gordon as an old man! They became Bruce Willis, Lukas Haas, Albert Finney and Ken Hudson Campbell in the version made by Alan Rudolph… Altman’s longtime apprentice. He made a  dog’s breakfast of it.







 Birth year: 1916Death year: 1986Other name: Casting Calls:  22