Anne Bancroft


  1. Grace Kelly, Fourteen Hours, 1950.    Director Henry Hathaway recalled testing three unknowns on the same day forMrs. Louise Ann Fullerin the man-on-a-ledge thriller. Kelly got the role (her debut),  Bancroft  got a Fox contract, and after seeing her tests, Rule was pacted by Warner Bros.  A good day’s work!
  2. Janet Leigh, Rogue Cop, 1953.     Bancroft tested for the titular Robert Taylor’s side order, the eternal nightclub chanteuse with, of course… A Past. Also in the frame: Barbara Bates and Margia Dean. George Raft stole everything in his first A movie in years. Anne went back to Broadway and bided her time.  
  3. Yvonne De Carlo, The Ten Commandments,1954.
  4. Debra Paget, The Last Hunt, 1956.    Still visible in some long shots, Bancroft was injured during a horse-riding scene with Stewart Granger, who said director Richard Brooks refused her a stunt-double. MGM production chief Dore Schary later admitted it was him.
  5. Dana Wynter, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956.    Oh no!  Gorilla At Large in 1954 was already one horror trip too many.
  6. Jean Seberg, Saint Joan, 1957.    Although a trifle old at 26  or the 19-year-old Maid of Orleans, the tyrannical producer-director Otto Preminger was intrigued by the mainly TV actress – unless you count films like The Girl in Black Stockings, Demetrius and the Gladiators and her 1954 debut, Gorilla At Large.
  7. Susan Cummings, Verboten! 1957.   “The first girl I saw was RAVISHING!” growled mavrick autuer Samuel Fuller in his usual CAPITALS. “I ADORED BANCROFT. NEVER seen her in a film. She was under contract to Fox. DIDN’T LIKE the roles there… THE FRIEND OF THE FRIEND OF THE LEADING LADY! So she was thinking of THEATRE in New York. She just wasn’t what I wanted for German girl.”
  8. Joan Collins. Seven Thieves, 1959.  Anne was first chosen as the stripper, Melanie, falling for Richard Widmark, part of Fredric March’s gang heisting  a Monaco  casino.  Except they became Collins, Rod Steiger and Edward G Robinson – totally outclassed by Frank Sinatra’s Clan as Ocean’s Eleven… robbing five Vegas casinos in one night!
  9. Shirley MacLaine, Two For The Seesaw, 1961.     “When transposing a successful Broadway show to the screen, you can’t please everybody,” declared producer Walter Mirisch. “If you use the cast of the original, your’e criticised.If you don’t, you’re criticised. I’ve done it both ways.” This time,although Anne was Gittel Moscavitz, UA wanted A Name.
  10. Suzanne Pleshette, The Birds, 1962.     Novelist and scenarist Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain) said he always had Bancroft in mind when writing Annie Hayworth.  And toid his boss. But, hey, he was Alfred Hitchcock. And Hitch preferred blondes.  Or, usually. 

  11. Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music, 1964.  Bancroft was an off-the-wall idea for Robert Wise’s second musical about a girl named Maria. More logical choices were Leslie Caron, Sandra Church, Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn,  Shirley Jones – and South Pacificstar Mitzi Gaynor  made “a whopping offer for the rights.” None of them glowed like Julie.  This was the year when Barbra Streisand won Broadway’s  Funny Girl because  Carol Burnett and Mary Martin refused it. So did Bancroft: “I don’t want  to be called Fanny on-stage!”  Critic Pauline Kael famously tried to bury “the sugar-coated lie that people seem to want to eat” but it saved Fox from the near bankruptcy of the Cleopatra debacle.
  12. Edie Adams, The Honey Pot, 1967.    Preferred a stage date to joining writer-director Joseph Mankiewicz in Rome with Rex Harrison, Susan Hayward, Maggie Smith for a perfectly elegant case of murder.
  13. Raquel Welch, Myra Breckinridge, 1969.  Anne Bancroft, Audrey Hepburn, Angela Lansbury, Vanessa Redgrave and Elizabeth Taylor all passed on the hero/heroine. An enormous flop, ruining the careers of UK director MikerSarne, actor Roger Herren and poor Raquel. “It should have been a comedy spoof,” said author Gore  Vidal, “with  Mike  Nichols directing”… a female impersonator as Myra!”   On hearing that Sarne was reduced to being a pizzeria waiter, Vidal said it proved “that God exists and there is such a thing as Divine Symmetry.”
  14. Norma Crane, Fiddler on the Roof, 1970.   Annie passed presumably because she saws it as secondary role. When winning Golde, Norma learned she had breast cancer – a fact she revealed only to a few, including her close friend, Natalie Wood. She paid Norma’s hospital and 1973 funeral bills.
  15. Hildegarde Neil, Antony and Cleopatra, 1971.    Charlton Heston was Antony and directing – after offering the chore to his mate Orson Welles. “Do you have a great Cleopatra?” “We don’t have any yet. You direct it and we’ll pick an actress and you make her great.” “Not with that part, dear boy.” True. Heston  first thought of Anne Bancroft, and it was her husband, Mel Brooks, who said no thank you. Next: Diana Rigg, Portia in the 1969  Julius Caesar. “Charley Hero” then shuffled through Sophia Loren (the El Cid co-star he never got on with), the Greek Irene Papas and four  other  true Brits: Glenda Jackson,  Vanessa Redgrave, Susannah York – and signed the less expensive Neil. The film was, sang The Guardian critic Derek Malcolm, “The Biggest Asp Disaster in the World.”
  16. Morgana King,The Godfather,  1971.
  17. Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist, 1973.
  18. Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, 1974.     She “nibbled” when Robert Getchell’s script rested with producer David Susskind for three months
  19. Elizabeth Taylor, Identikit, Italy, 1974.   First choice of UK producer Joseph Janni when buying Muriel Spark’s novel for Italian director Luchino Visconti in 1970.
  20. Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1974. 
  21. Mary Steenburgen, Goin‘ South, 1978.  So Mary made her movie debut; so did John Belushi.
  22. Faye Dunaway, Mommie Dearest, 1981.   Once upon a time, Italian stage-screen director Franco Zefferelli was supposed to be helming Bancroft as  the biggest mother of them all” – Joan Crawford!  Instead the ugly project became a wholly  rjsible versipn of her daughter Christina’s book with Faye Dunaway chewing up the sets and spitting out ,wire hangers. It was Joan Crawford (who accepted Bancroft’s Miracle Worker Oscar for her in 1963.
  23. Maggie Smith, The Missionary, 1982.     UK casting icon Irene Lamb cleverly suggested Bancroft. Scenarist-star Michael Palin felt she was too old and not skittish – “a light, naughty side of which, I think, youth may be a not inconsiderable part.” (Well, he did once call it The Missionary Position). Asked which lady was the bigger draw in the US, the Sony/Columbia chief John Calley voted Maggie but said neither one meant a thing!
  24. Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment, 1983.   Bancroft and Nicholson was feted never to happened. She topped all lists for Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and now for Auroa Greenaway. Writer-director James L Brooks’ next selection was the just as inevitable, Ratched, herself: Louise Fletcher.But as Jack Nicholson biographer Dennis McDougal, said of her: “MacLaine understood prim.”
  25. Anjelica Huston, The Witches, 1988.  Olivia Hussey topped author Ronald Dahl’s wish list for Miss Ernst, aka The Grand High Witch. However, Anjelica was on Nic Roeg’s list. And he was the director!  He took his time combing through the 13 other candidates:  From Linda Blair (little Regan grew up to be a witch?), Genevieve Bujold, Cher, Frances Conroy, Faye Dunaway, Jodie Foster, Liza Minnelli, Susan Sarandon, Sigourney Weaver to true Brits Fiona Fullerton, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave… and the sole Black star considered, Eartha Kitt.  Together with Bancroft, they all escaped  .eight  hours of make-up each  day!  Appalled by the vulgar bad taste and :actual terror” in the film, Dahl threatened to take his name off it.  Jim Henson talked him out  of it for the Muppeteer’s final production.  
  26. Connie Booth, American Friends, 1990.      This time it was Michael Palin, himself, who first thought of La Bancroft to be opposite his clergyman (encore) in his newest script. In her 84 Charing Cross Road, 1986, he discovered her “superb ability to fill characters with life without becoming fussy or exasperatingly hyperactive and her ability to move me to tears (by the end of the movie) are breathtaking.” A strong, big, major actress. but he rightly felt, too old for the role…. that, finally, shesaw little of interest in. OK, because also shining in Bancroft’s UK film, was the youngerConnie, a Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star during her 1968-1978 marriage to John Cleese.
  27. Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream,1999.  “We recognise the actors, but barely,” said Roger Ebert. Maybe Bancroft and Faye Dunaway wished to be recognised or had never seen Pi, the hallucinatory 1997 debut of auteur Darren Aronofsky. Either way, they refused the actor’s dream role of Sara Goldfarb – which won Burstyn her fourth Oscar nomination.
  28. Cloris Leachman, Spanglish, 2004.      Ill health prevented her being Téa Leoni’s mother.
  29. Nancy Marchand, The Sopranos, TV, 1999-2007.     
  30. Shirley MacLaine, Rumor Has It, 2005.    “It’s a gimmick,” summed up critic Roger Ebert. “But a good gimmick.”  Caught up in the Pasadena rumour mill, Jennifer Aniston believes that her grandmother was the inspiration for Mrs Robinson in Charles Webb’s novel, The Graduate. Before her 2005 death, Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman were going to reprise their 1967 roles.  In real life, Mike Nichols offered MacLaine a role in his screen classic – not Mrs Robinson, but her daughter, Dustin Hoffman’s true love, who in movie-Pasadena would be Aniston’s mother, who we learn quit Benjamin Braddock three days after their bus escape!   And yes, the Benjamin model is alive and well and is Kevin Costner(!).  Aniston meets and sleeps with him, even though he just might be her father.  After Granny and Mom, she is the third generation of her family to have sex with “Benjamin”!


 Birth year: 1931Death year: 2005Other name: Casting Calls:  30