Bill Travers

  1. Stephen Boyd, Ben-Hur, 1958.     Sword and sandal epics were in.  And producer Sam Zimbalist, who’d made one of the biggest – Quo Vadis, 1950 – was back in Rome, re-making the 1923 silent Ben-Hur.  Losing Messala were Steve Cochran, Kirk Douglas (now you know why he became Spartacus), Charlton Heston (who became Judah Ben-Hur), Victor Mature. Plus New Yorker Ray Danton, British Stewart Granger (from Quo Vadis), Welsh Ronald Lewis, Canadian Leslie Nielsen (he tested with Haya Harareet as Esther), the way too  old Robert Ryan (when way too old Burt Lancaster was to be Judah Ben-Hur) and Scottish. Bill Travers. Were they bright enough to comprehend what Heston never twigged  –  that “contributing writer” Gore Vidal implied Judah and Messala had been lovers.  (Sergio Leone claimed he directed the stunning chariot race. He did not).
  2. Nigel Davenport, Living Free, 1971.   Naturally Travers and his wife, Virginia McKenna, were asked to reprise the real wildlife conservationists Joy and George Adamson in the sequel to their huge 1965 Born Free hit. They preferred being themselves, alongside Adamson in An Elephant Called Slowly for the same director, James Hill. Davenport and Susan Hampshire took over opposite two Born Free survivors, Geoffrey Keen and Peter Lukoe.

 Birth year: 1922Death year: 1994Other name: Casting Calls:  2