Betty Field


  1. Ellen Drew, Christmas In July, 1939.     Field and William Holden were first choices  for the struggling young couple in  one of the finest  Preston Sturges films,  first written as a play in 1931. 
  2. Mary Astor, The Maltese Falcon, 1940.     Who didn’t want to be Brigid O’Shaugnessy:  “I’ve been bad, worse than you could know.”  She was the film noir Scarlett O’Hara and three potential Scarletts were in a new battle: Joan Bennett, Paulette Goddard, Brenda Marhsall. Also delighted at being seen were: Field, Ingrid Bergman, Olivia de Havilland,  Betty Field, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Janet Gaynor, Rita Hayworth. The rest were livid about not being good enough for bad Brigid… and her just desserts. “If you’re a good girl, you’ll be out in 20 years,” Bogie’s Sam Spade tells her.   “I’ll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I’ll always remember you.”
  3. Barbara Stanwyck, Ball of Fire, 1941.     After being spurned by Ginger Rogers – and until Gary Cooper suggested his 1940 Meet John Doe co-star – director Howard Hawks tested both Ball and Betty Field for aSnow White now called… Sugarpuss O’Shea! (The Silver Fox re-made his film as A Song Is Born with Danny Kaye in 1947).
  4. Susan Hayward, The Forest Rangers, 1941.     When Paulette Goddard was promoted from the butch girl who didn’t get Forest Ranger Fred MacMurray to the one who did, Field was her first replacement as Miss Butch… finally played by Hayward.
  5. Ingrid Bergman, From Whom The Bell Tolls, 1942.  Two years previously, Betty had won Joseph Conrad’s  Victory from Bergman.  “I’m not an outstanding personality and I’m certainly no beauty. Acting ability is all I’ve got to trade on.”  That was enough to win Broadway’s Betty a seven-year seven-year Paramount contract.  Yet not enough to share  the Gary Cooper film. OK, she gave good Spanish but she remained “too Americanised” for the Ernest Hemingway tale. Other potential Marias included Barbara Britton, Frances Farmer,  Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward, Luis Rainer and  Barbara Stanwyck plus  the Austro-Hungarian French Annabella, Mexico’s Esther Fernández,  true Brit  Vivien Leigh and German Vera Zorina..In case Ingrid  changed her mind, producer-director Sam Wood had  the Austro-Hungarian Laure Aubert waiting in the wings.
  6. Kim Hunter, A Matter of Life and Death, 1946.     Rather than arranging a meeting with her New York agent, UK director MichaelPowell called on Betty at the theatreand was mistaken for a Stagedoor Johnny as she rushed out. He next called on Alfred Hitchcock in Hollywood who suggested Hunter. “Is she a Californian?” “No,” said Hitch. “She’s a lady.”
  7. Geraldine Page, The Day of the Locusts, 1974.    UK director John Schlesinger chose Betty for Big Sister – her 61th screen role in 30 years. However, she suffered acerebral hemorrhage and died before shooting started.


 Birth year: 1913Death year: 1973Other name: Casting Calls:  7