Guy Madison

  1. Farley Granger, They Live By Night, 1947.      At 22, Granger was youngest of four guys seen by director Nicholas Ray for his escaped con, Bowie. Guy Madison was 25, Michael Steele, 26, and Bill Williams, 32.    Madison  was Robert Moseley , an ex-coastguard, when Henry Willson., the agent known as “the gay Svengali”, re-branded  him. “I always gave a green actor a trick name to help him get noticed”… just as Larry Parnes  was doing with his pop star stable of teenage heart-throbs  in Swinging London (Billy Fury, Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde, etc).  “I named Guy Madison from Dolly Madison cakes,” said Wilson. “Tab Hunter? I couldn’t think of anything to tab him with. John Smith? I just got tired.  For Roy Fitzgerald, I wanted something strong and big. Rock of Gibraltar…  and the Hudson River.”  Aka, his greatest  find. Rock Hudson!   PS. Humphrey Bogart ‘s gang made fun of Wilson’s names and tried to out-do him.  Their best effort was…  Dung Heep.

  2. Anthony Dexter, Valentino, 1950.   
    The second of Dexter’s 25 screen roles (go on, name one) is his most famous film. The Nebraska farm boy was a real clone of the silent movie icon – aka Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla. “Incredible!” declared George Melford who directed Valentinio as The Sheik in 1921. “The same eyes, ears, mouth – the same grace in dancing.”  The Columbia Pictures publicity machine insisted  that 75,000 applicants led to 400 screen tests – none seemed to be Italian. Certainly not the final seven. Producer Edward Small (his name condemned his work in advance – Small productions!) finally went through Argentine Fernando Lamas, two Mexicans, (Arturo de Córdova, Ricardo Montalban) and three Yanks (John Derek, Jon Hall, Guy Williams) before voting Dexter. UK director Ken Russell made a glossier (well, typically Russellian) version in 1976.  His Rudolph wasn’t Italian either. But Russian! The ballet star Rudolph (geddit?) Nureyev.

  3. Cameron Mitchell, The Tall Men, 1953.        An US Coast Guard (he made his debut on a weekend pass), Madison was discovered by Henry Willson – the agent who found all the pretties: Rory Calhoun, Troy Donahue, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Lana Turner, Natalie Wood.  Andf so, Madison was In the mix for Clark Gable’s kid brother  rescuing Jane Rusell from Indians during a cattle drive in  a tale  of “tall men – and long shadows. ” And a Gable far too old  for his $830,000 role. 
  4. Edmund Purdom, The Egyptian, 1953.     Once Brando split for his New York shrink’s couch, head Fox Darryl Zanuck scurried around searching for a new Sinuhe, the court physician – Madison, Dirk Bogarde, John Cassevetes, Montgomery Clift, Richard Conte, John Derek, Rock Hudson, John Lund, Hugh O’Brian, Michael Pate. Fox borrowed MGM’s wooden Purdom and sued Brando for $2m, settled when he agreed to make (the much worse) Désirée.   Or Daisy-Rae as he called the one that got away from Napoleon.  
  5. Jeffrey Hunter, The Proud Ones, 1955.   Apart from using CinemaScope, Fox had little idea what to do with Thad, assistant to Marshal Robert Ryan who hadgunned down the kid’s “no-good gun slinger” father. Choices ranged from  Guy Madison, 33, Robert Stack and Jeffrey Hunter, 34, to Robert Wagner, 25   Hunter was 29. He ran (good move, lousy Western) in order to be Jean Simmons’ Boy Next Door in  Hilda Crane. (Hmm, not any better).
  6. Robert Wagner, Between Heaven and Hell, 1955.     Guy was The Guy when John Sturges was due to direct. A switch to the in-house helmer Richard Fleischer led to another Fox contractee becoming Sfc Private  Sam Francis Gifford – as a spoiled rich kid changed by WWII.  The future  Twilight Zone Icon Rod Serling wrote the first script – more than 500 pages…  nine hour movie! ” I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. They just said: Here’s 1,500 bucks a week – write! So I wrote. They eventually took the thing away from me and handed it over to six other writers…”
  7. Anthony Steel, Hell Is Empty, UK-Czeckoslovakia, 1965.   Martine Carol’s fourth husband, UK businessman Mike Eland, wanted to revive her career, stagnating since the rise of the sexier Brigitte Bardot.  Bernard Knowles started shooting in 1965  with Madison and Klaus Kinski as the guys.  Martine died, at 46, before completing the shoot – finished by the scenarist John Ainsworth in ‘66, with a heavily bandaged leading lady and two new guys: Steel and Carl Möhner. Steel’s career was similarly toast. So much so that the UK Rank Organisation poster mistakenly added a final ‘e’ to his name… and he had been a top Rank contract star in the 50s! By the time the mess was released in France as Jugement à Prague in November 1973, Martine’s co-star, Patricia Viterbo was also dead – at 24.

 Birth year: 1922Death year: 96Other name: Casting Calls:  7