Fay Bainter

  1. Estelle Taylor, Cimarron, 1931.      She  was an alternative selection for Dixie in MGM’s first version of the Edna Ferber classic. 
  2. Spring Byington, You  Can’t  Take  It  With  You, 1937.     “Unavailable,”  reported Frank Capra, used to getting who he wanted. “Then, as so often happened, we found the perfect Penny – the pixie, moonstruck mother who typed unfinished plays – right under  our noses.”  Byington was nominated on the Oscar night  when Capra collected his third directing and second Best Picture awards
  3. Beulah Bondi, Vivacious Lady, 1937.    Change of Mrs Morgan when shooting was postponed because James Stewart fell ill and then had to report to his next MGMovie, Of Human Hearts… with Bondi as his mother. So he suggested she kept that role when Bainter left and, indeed, Bondi mothered him three more times: Mr Smith Gods To Washington, It’s A Wonderful Life and The Jimmy Stewart Show on TV.
  4. Florence Bates, Love Crazy, 1940.    One FB for another as the mother-in-law cliché in what should have been Bainter’s MGM debut – the tenth and best of the 14 Myrna Loy-William Powell delights.  He even shaved his famous tash off – for a bit of drag.
  5. Spring Byington, Meet John Doe, 1940.     Bainter v Byington for Barbara Stanwyck’s mother in the Doe tale – already told by director Frank Capra as that of Longfellow Deeds and Jefferson Smith, “the fellows, you remember, who went to town and to Washington, respectively,” said New York Times critic Bosley Crowther, “the honest and forthright fellow – confused, inconsistent but always sincere -who believes in the basic goodness of people and has the courage to fight hard for principles.
  6. Katina Paxinou, For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1942.    The Greek star won in The clinches with such old-times as Bainter, Ethel Barrymore, Alla Nazimova, Pola Negri, Flora Robson, Marjorie Rambeau.  Plus Gloria Swansonwh… whose one-time lover. Cecil B DeMille. had earlier planned his own version of the Ernest Hemingway book
  7. Aline MacMahon, Dragon Seed, 1943.    Insulting! Pearl Buck’s book had a point – exposing Japanese atrocities in China.  MGM made it a farce, with the unlikeliest-looking Chinese ever spawned by Hollywood. Taped eyelids for MacMahon, Katharine Hepburn, Walter Huston, Akim Tamiroff…  Many others failed in  Eurasian make-up:  Bainter, Edward Arnold, Donald Crisp, Greer Garson, Van Heflin, Hedy Lamarr, Frank Morgan, Walter Pidgeon, Donna Reed, Edward G. Robinson. Aline earned her sole Oscar nod in what even producer Pando S Berman admitted was a “laughably ill-conceived” picture. 
  8. Charlotte Greenwood, Home In Indiana, 1943.     Change of Aunty Penny for Lon McAllister – and so his troubled soul is saved by what they called trotters and harness-racing. As well as horses, he also had two girls to chase. June Haver, as the bad ’un, somehow got away with wearing fewer clothes than usually OKed by the Hays Office.

 Birth year: 1891Death year: 1968Other name: Casting Calls:  8