Elissa Landi

  1. Claudette Colbert, The Sign of the Cross, 1932.    Making the cap-in-hand deal with Paramount was tough enough.  Finding Nero was simple. (Charles Laughton made him a comic Mussolini). Finding Poppaea was tougher…   Epic-maker Cecil B  DeMille talked to Adrianne Allen, Pola Negri, Norma Talmadge and seriously considered Fox’s continually wasted “Empress of Emotion,” the Venice-born Italian Landi…  until  noticing Colbert strolling by  his office. He opened his window to call out:   “Claudette, how would like to play the wickedest woman in the world.  “I’d love  it!”  She was not so happy about her milk bath – turning to cheese under  the hot lights.   Landi was later cast as the slave girl called Mercia…  appearing in what has been cited as Hollywood’s first lesbian scene, when Joyzelle Joynor danced  seductively around her.   Both CC and Landi  became lovers of Katharine  Hepburn, the Kate-Cc affair lasting nine years.
  2. Claudette Colbert, Four Frightened People, 1933.  When Colbert collapsed with appendicitis, the mighty Cecil B DeMille considered Landi to replace her. Or Gloria Swanson from his 1919 Male and Female, another comedy about shipwrecked rich folk.  Then, CC cabled CB on the Hawaii locations – she’d be fit in a fortnight.  And she was. Until falling ill again wiith  intestinal infuenza after her nude bath in a waterfall… and the rain
  3. Kitty Carlise, Here Is My Heart, 1933.      For the second consecutive time, Carlisle  (and Bing Crosby) took over a Gary Cooper vehicle. Because what did he know about…. singing!
  4. Myrna Loy, The Prizefighter and the Lady, 1933.      As MGM switched from directors Josef von Sternberg to Howard Hawks to, finally, “One Take Woody” Van Dyke, so did the The Lady… from Joan Crawford and Mae Clarke to Jean Harlow and Landi. The Prizefighter was a real one – Max Baer. He won every round.


 Birth year: 1904Death year: 1948Other name: Casting Calls:  4