Payday Loans
Mary Astor (1906-1987)


  1. Dolores Costello, The Sea Beast, 1925.      When John Barrymore insisted on the film - based on Moby Dick - he also insisted on  his gal,  Astor, as co-star. The studio said: Costello, or no film!  “I fell in love with her instantly,” said Barrymore. “This time I knew I was right.” They had an affair, rather like Barrymore, at 40, had with Astor during Beau Brummel, 1923. Costello’s father was against them, not her mother. (Result: the parents divorced!). Before Barrymore made Costello his third wife, during 1928-1934, he wanted her in his next film, Don Juan, 1926,  But this time the studio insisted on… Astor! 
  2. Jill Esmond, State’s Attorney, 1931.    Change of wife for John Barrymore, already straying towards Helen Twelvetrees in a way that the AMPP, (Association of Motion Picture Producers) said would detract from Helen’s character - “to have her accept a relationship which any woman with a spark of decency would feel was degrading and insulting.” Esmond was soon living exactly that story as her husband, Laurence Olivier, fell for Vivien Leigh.
  3. Colleen Moore, The Power and the Glory, 1933.     Astor and Irene Dunne were in the frame for Spencer Tracy’s wife in  the non-Graham Greene tale. Producer Jesse L Lasky wanted the old-timer (aged 32). Brought to Hollywood by DW Griffith, she  had not made a movie for four years (and only made three more). “The minute I read the script,” she cried, “I couldn’t wait...” Tracy said much the same in his diary: “Great script, great part. Sounds like a winner... I hope so.”  It made him! Fox borrowed Moore  from MGM for the Preston Sturgess scenario - which critic Pauline  Kael mistakenly called the  model for Citizen Kane.   While Fox called Sturgess’ innovative: narration -  narratage.
  4. Karen Morley, Crime Doctor, 1933.     Nothing to do with Columbia’s 1943-1949 series based on the 1940-1947 CBS radio show, this crime doctor is a cop doctoring his murder of his unfaithful wife to pin it her lover…. Astor passed on succeeding Wynne Gibson as the wife, Corinne Griffth took over and quit because title star Otto Kruger was also killing her performance (forever having her back to camera). RKO quickly loaned MGM’s Morley.
  5. Barbara O’Neill, Stella Dallas, 1936.    Astor was producer Sam Goldwyn’s first idea for Helen, second wife of Stella’s escaped husband. O’Neill’s sparse screen career of 22 films, included being Scarlett O’Hara’s mother in Gone With The Wind… when just three years older than Vivien Leigh!
  6. Constance Moore, Buy Me That Town, 1940.       She was only a judge’s daughter but she sure pleased ex-racketeer Lloyd Nolan - whether she was Astor or Moore. His guys were called Crusher, Fingers and Ziggy. So you this came from Damon Runyon.
  7. Bonita Granville,  Now, Voyager, 1941.     Astor was producer Hal Wallis’ first and only idea for signing for the bitchy niece of a (this once) non-bitchy Bette Davis.  Then, not.
  8. Ann Sheridan, The Man Who Came To Dinner, 1941.  Eight guys  were seen for the titular and  acerbic critic, Sheridan Whiteside  (the first time that  Cary Grant and Orson Welles were considered  for the same role!).   But just three ladies for Lorraine Sheldon based on Broadway’s UK star Gertrude Lawrence -  Mary Astor Dorothy  Mackail, Ann Sheridan. Opposite the titular Monty Woolley, f rom the Broadway hit.
  9. Geraldine Fitzgerald, The Gay Sisters, 1941.       Bette Davis professed to liking Astor, indeed she’d asked for her in The Great Lie,1941 - the only time an actress stole a Davis film.  But fretting that she’d have to look older than Mary Astor (who “photographed old”), Bette Davis told Jack Warner to shove it… to someone else. He called Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn and tried to borrow MGM’s First Lady Norma Shearer  The problem was solved when Astor split forThe MalteseFalcon… turning the sisters Gaylord into Stanwyck, Nancy Coleman and Geraldine Fitzgerald.(ActorByron Barr took on his character's name as his own - Gig Young).
    This time, Bette maintained that Mary photographed older than she did and Davis complained she’d have to “age considerably”to appear older.   Basically, Davis did not want audiences thinking she really was the age she’d played in Little Foxes.  Neither star made the film;  Barbara Stanwyck and Fitzgerald did. (Astor had replaced Fitzgerald in The Maltese Falcon, 1941).
  10.  Ilka Chase, Now, Voyager, 1942.   Astor and Chase were both  seen for Lisa, sister-in-law of the  repressed spinster Charlotte Vale. How Chase must have relished a role that required her to seek a shrink for… Bette Davis!

  11. Signe Hasso, Dangerous Partners, 1944.   Although Carola was perfect for them, both Astor and Marlene Dietrich fled what was just an MGM B. Being Swedish,  Hasso took it seriously and made a terrific con woman villain. Frightening!
  12. Geraldine Fitzgerald, The Three Strangers, 1945.    Warner Bros wanted a Maltese Falconsequel - and fast! The classic’s auteurJohn Huston reminded the suits of the script they bought from him and Howard Koch in 1937 - announced for Bette Davis and George Brent in 1939. “Perfect,” declared Huston, ”we just change the names of the Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet and Mary Astor characters.” Great, yelled the suits. They yelled louder when hitting the glitch: Warner only had rights to the names (Sam Spade, Kasper Gutman, Brigid O’Shaughnessy) in the Falcolntale. A re-make was OK, not a sequel.  Falconites Greenstreet and Lorre led the final cast with Geraldine Fitzgerald. When Huston joined WWII, Alfred Hitchcock was keen on the script. Jean Negulesco was cheaper.
  13. Selena Royle, A Date With Judy, 1947.   Ill-health made Astor withdraw from being Wallace Beery’s wife and Jane Powell’s mother. Enough to make anyone ill. 
  14. Irene Hervey, Mr Peabody and the Mermaid, 1947.    First due for William Powell’s Mrs Peabody when, on holiday at Weeki Wachee Spring, Florida, he meets Ann Blyth as a mermaid, strategically covered by seaweed in  what the LA Times called a triumph of censors  over ichthyologists, “and a rather humorous commentary on American mores in itself.”
  15. Eileen Heckart, Miracle in the Rain, 1956.     Although reduced to “do nothing mother roles,” she was still turned down as Jane Wyman’s mother.


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