Susanna Foster


  1. Adriana Caselotti, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937.     Walt Disney wanted a 14-year-old Janet Gaynor to voice his $1.4m “folly.” Her animation was based on live-action footage of dancer Marjorie Belcher (later Marge Champion). With an office loudspeaker tuned into the audition stage, Disney rejected the unknown Deanna Durbin as “too mature” (at 14!). He was mulling over Foster and Betty Jaynes when Caselotti, 19, similarly evesdropped on a Disney casting man’s call to her vocal-coach father. When she piped up with a little girl’s voice, she was promptly invited to test. “That’s the girl,” yelled Disney. Her fee for 48 days of recording: $970. Ironically, Foster later signed by Universal in the 40s to keep Deanna in line…making seven films spurned by Durbin.
  2. Mary Lee, Nobody’s Darling, 1942.     Paramount’s version for Foster never left trhe runway and the studio sold the F Hugh Herbert story to Republic for its very own “America’s Little Sweetheart” – one of Gene Autry’s regular sagebrush squeezes. After three more films (19 in total), Foster quit movies and was later discovered working for Bank of America.
  3. Elizabeth Taylor, National Velvet, 1944.    Signed up at 12, and sent to the MGM  school with Judy Garland and Mickey  Rooney,  Foster refused  Velvet Brown.  “There’s no singing in it!”  In fact,  she was never used by Metro and later became Deanna Durbin’s #1 rival at Universal. Other potential Velvets included Pat Arno, Alix De Kauffman, Leatrice Joy Gilbert, Katharine Hepburn, Leslie Ruth Howard, Patsy Lee Parsons, Gene Tierney and future UK politician Baroness Shirley Williams. None matched Taylor’s determination. When told she was too short in her tested (directed by  Fred Zinnemann!), Liz promised to put on three inches before shooting. And she did!  A star is born, agreed the critics. 
  4. Louise Allbritton, San Diego, I Love You, 1944.      Louise was the girl – promoting the life-jacket invented by her father – then lost it to Susanna.   Jon Hall had replaced Robert Paige, by the time Allbritton was back  in the life-raft. Another singer (like Ann Blyth), chosen by Universal to keep Deanne Durbin in line, Susanna was sickened by studio politicking and quit showbiz at age 21.
  5. Ginny Sims, Shady Lady, 1944.      The Universal contract actress was was first up for Leonora Lee Appleby when the film was still  called Alibi in Ermine. Simms was then fired by MGM’s head lion, LB Mayer. Because she wouldn’t marry him.
  6. Olga San Juan, One Touch of Venus, 1947.   Foster passed Gloria to Brooklyn’s San Juan.   And again in…
  7. Olga San Juan, The Countess of Monte Cristo, 1948.  Most put out, Foster refused to play Sonjia Henie’s maid. “She ought to be playing my maid!” Nothing Universal could say or offer would satisfy Olga made 17 films tol Foster’s 13. “I was never really ambitious. At least not in the cutthroat way that’s required to succeed. The truth is that I hated a career and everything that went with it.” In 1982, Susanna was discovered living in her car.

 Birth year: 1924Death year: 2009Other name: Casting Calls:  7