Walter Brennan

  1. Jascha Heifetz, They Shall Have Music, 1938.   Producer Samuel Goldwyn thought about  Brennan or George Arliss for the music master – until he achieved his dream of persuading his friend, the violinist superstar to make a movie.  (Heifetz  was married to silent star Florence Vidor).  
  2. Lynne Overman, Union Pacific, 1938.   CB DeMille thought of Brennan or Bob Burns for the wonderfully named Leach Overmile in the Central Pacific v Union Pacific railroad battle, circa 1862.
  3. Harry Carey, The Great Moment, 1942.  Three years earlier, Henry Hathaway was due to direct Cooper in the biopic of Dr William Thomas Green Morton, the Boston dentist who invented anaesthetics in 1844. With  Brennan as his friend, Professor John C Warren.Then, Cooper quit Paramount and he good doctor was given lo Walter Huston who, passed to McCrea.  Far from  the usual Preston Sturgis comedy and the studio hated the ending (WTGM  died a disgraced pauper) and re-cut it for a 1942 release, ending – as it were – in the middle!
  4. Burgess Meredith, Story of GI Joe, 1943.   Pulitzer Prize-winning US WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle was revered by his public as saint, seer and common man.  So producer Lester Cowan naturally first thought of Fred Astaire and Gary Cooper, then James Gleason or Fred MacMurray. Plus two total amateurs: Pittsburgh radio sports jock, Albert Kennedy “Rosey”Rosewell, and an Ernie clone called John M Waldeck: a streetcar conductor nominated for the role by 1,200 St Louisians. Pyle voted for Meredith, a serving US Army captain at the time. Pyle never saw the film – he was killed during the 1945 Okinawa invasion two months before the premiere. 
  5. Fredric March,  The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946.
  6. Thomas Mitchell, It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946.
  7. Chill Wills, Giant, 1955.
  8. Helen Hayes, Herbie Rides Again, 1973.   After 235 screen roles in 52 years, the ultimate Grumpy Old Galoot was dying of emphysema, so Grandpa Steinmetz became Grandma Steinmetz as his role was re-tailored of The First Lady of the American Theatre. For each of their six films, the ex-extraalways askeddirector Howard Hawks: “With or without?” “With or without what?” “My teeth.” Usually without, he won the first and ultimately a  record three best supporting Oscars – in four years, 1936-1940 – mainly because extras were entitled to vote and always chose one of their own.
  9. Edmond O’Brien, The Wild Bunch, 1968.



 Birth year: 1894Death year: 1974Other name: Casting Calls:  9