Cesare Danova

  1. Jacques Bergerac, Gigi, 1957.       Tested for the ice skating instructor. Bergerac became the fourth French star  in the line-up  after Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier. The MGMusical won all nine of its Oscar nominations!
  2. Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur, 1958.   The Italian actor  was  “being groomed for the title spot,” according to the Hollywood media – with Heston as Messala. Danova’s two-scene colour test (with Leslie Nielsen as Messala) was added to the 2004 DVD release. Director William Wyler (from the original’s 1924 crew) also studied Marlon Brando, Richard Burton (from The Robe, 1953), Montgomery Clift, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson (furious with Universal refusing to loan him out), Van Johnson (no, really!),  Burt Lancaster (an atheist with no interest in Christianity commercials, although he had earlier tried to mount his  own version), Paul Newman (still smarting   his 1954 debut,  The Silver  Chalice , true Brit Edmond Purdom (who had picked up another epic dropped by Brando, The Egyptian, 1953)… plus Italians, known and unknown: Vittorio Gassman  and Cesare Danova.  MGM voted Heston, CB De Mille’s Moses in The Ten Commandments, 1954. According to “contributing writer” Gore Vidal, Willie Wyler called Heston wooden. Brando, for one, would not disagree. And yet, Judah Ben-Heston won his Oscar on April 4 1960. Danova’s English improved enough to come back, momentarily, in Gidget Goes To Rome, 1963,  and – better – Mean Streets, 1973.




 Birth year: 1926Death year: 1992Other name: Casting Calls:  2