Payday Loans
Danny Kaye (1913-1987)

  1. Jimmy Durante, The Man Who Came To Dinner, 1941.  Director William Keighley tested Kaye for Banjo - a character based upon Harpo Marx, opposite the titular Monty Woolley. But Durante won. By a nose. Kaye had to wait two years for his breakthrough, Up In Arms.
  2. Bob Hope, Let’s Face It, 1942.     All right for some… Eve Arden created her Maggie Watson role in the play. Her Broadway co-star Danny Kaye wasn’t so lucky, being passed over for a better known comic.
  3. Milton  Berle,  Always  Leave Them  Laughing, 1948.     After a string of successes for producer  Sam Goldwyn, Danny signed with Warners  - and quit after one flop, leaving his vehicles to other drivers. .
  4. Cary Grant, Monkey Business, 1952.   "You're only old when you forget you're young..."Before Cary Grant got to hear about it - one of his favourite film-makers, Howard Hawks, was directing! - the funny man was almost inked to be Dr Barnaby Fulton, endlessly researching an
    elixir of youth!...  and Marilyn Monroe stealing scenes as a skittish secretary.    Next time we saw those together again,  it was  when Tony Curtis was “playing” Cary in Some Like It Ho, 1958 – for which classic, Danny - as we shall see - was up for the Jack Lemmon’s role
  5. Broderick Crawford, Stop, You're Killing Me, 1953.      Minus Danny, satire became farce in the re-make of Edward G  Robinson's A Slight Case of Murder, 1938. Runyonesque. Except somebody must have said: Hold the  Runyons.
  6. Howard Keel, Kiss Me Kate, 1952.    If MGM could not entice  Danny, it  wanted  someone he knew quite intimately.  Laurence Olivier. This is the first and only time that Kaye and his sometime lover were up for the same role.  In the musical inspired by the rows between the idolised  Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine during their 1935 Taming of the Shrew in New York. 
  7. Jack Lemmon, It Should Happen to You, 1953.    Garson Kanin was composing  a comedy.  His wife, actress and often writing partner, Ruth Gordon, suggested he should aim it at Judy - who they had turned into  a move star in Adam’s Rib,  1949. But, said Kanin, I’m writing it for Danny.  No, said Ruth, not any more!  This is Jack Lemmon’s first feature. He was quickly taught by director George Cukor that less is more. And Columbia’s horrible boss, Harry Cohn, ordered the couple into a second gig, Phffft  – “the sound of romance on the rocks!” (You didn’t know that?)
  8. Guy Mitchell, Red Garters, 1954.     Danny and Jane Russell sounded OK, but  they were  never free at the same time for the novel Western filmusical - using deliberately stagey sets.
  9. Gene Kelly, Marjorie Morningstar, 1957.     What were they thinking?!  Natalie Wood’s Jewish lover was… 32. Kaye was 46 and dropped as too Jewish (for a Jewish role!). And the not so Jewish looking Jewish Paul Newman was  perfect at... 32.  So the part went to Kelly, 45 and Irish.  Hey, ’twas the fag-end of the 50s.
  10. Jerry Lewis, Visit To A Small Planet, 1959.     Times had changed and the new #1 box-office clown was Jer and no longer Kaye. Producer Hal Wallis also considered the UK’s latest theatrical knight as Gore Vidal’s visiting alien Kreton until deciding to go without Alec Guinness. The movie also lost his anagram... genuine class., and staggered everyone by rushing ahead with Walston.... as if sabotaging his own movie. Walston had zero charisma. The comedy was a flop the second he signed his contract.

  11. Tom Ewell, a nice little BANK that should be robbed. 1958.   Well, that’s exactly how it was written in the credits… Kaye passed to Ewell, who robbed banks to finance a racing stable, with his similar sad-sacks pals Mickeys Rooney and Shaugnessey. Nobody passed the post first.
  12. Jack Lemmon, Some Like It Hot, 1958.     The suits didn’t agree about Lemmon and insisted on bigger names. When Frank Sinatra never turned up for a meet with dirctor Billy Wilder, Danny was voted OK - opposite Bob Hope.  “They’d both done drag before,” commented  Lemmon’s co-star Tony Curtis, “and were as funny as you’d expect...  Maybe Danny would have overwhelmed me. Maybe I’d have made him look old. For whatever reason, Billy said no to Danny.” The reason was far more simple... Once Wilder won Marilyn, he could have whoever he fancied.  Hence,  Lemmon… in the first of their  seven films during 1958-1981.
  13. Jerry Lewis, Visit To A Small Planet, 1959.   Times had changed and the new #1 box-office clown was Jer' and no longer Kaye. Producer Hal Wallis also considered the UK’s latest theatrical knight as Gore Vidal’s visiting alien Kreton until deciding to go without Alec Guinness. The movie also lost his anagram... genuine class.
  14. Mickey Shaughnessy, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1960.    Eight years earlier, MGM had planned a musical version with Dean Stockwell  as Huck, William Warfield  (Joe in  Show Boat, 1951) as Jim, Gene Kelly and Danny as the two con men. (That explains the four songs in this film).
  15. Robert Preston, The Music Man, 1962.  And  that rhymes with...  Kaye.. who had  also been first choice for the Broadway show. Jack Warner beggedCary Grant to do it. "Not only will I not star in it, but if Robert Preston doesn't star in it, I will not see it,” he said – and used a similar line about Rex Harrison when Warner offered him  My Fair Lady, in  1963. Also refusing to steal Preston's  thunder:  Milton Berle, Ray Bolger, Art Carney, Dan Dailey, Danny Kaye, Phil Harris, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
  16. Ray Walston, Kiss Me, Stupid, 1963.     Director Billy Wilder didn’t want (much less, care) to wait and see if Peter Sellers could recover from his massive heart attacks. Billy called Danny, who refused - after consulting (as Sellers always did) an astrologer. Danny could hardly play a husband whose hot wife cheated on him with Dean Martin. The audience would have sobbed with him - and torn the place down! Wilder wouldn’t wait for Jack Lemmon, either

  17. Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins, 1963.  
    OK, Bert the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious chimney sweep, had to sing and dance it up. But he also had to be at home with a Cockney accent. Only a few US stars could manage that. Sadly, Van Dyke was not among them. Nor were Kaye,  Fred Astaire or Cary Grant. UK author PL Travers didn’t like how books were Hollywoodised and took 25 years to accept Walt Disney’s plan for her governess. She then found the result “vulgar and disrespectful” - and, like most Brits, loathed Van Dyke’s Bert. But then she knew nothing about cinema, having suggested the august (and aged) Alec Guinness, Rex Harrison. Even Danny's alleged lover,  Laurence Olivier - To sweep, or not to sweep! Plus Richards Burton and Harris, Peters O’Toole and Sellers. (Only Sellers made sense). Disney wanted Stanley Holloway - busy reprising his My Fair Lady stage role. Loving the movie but feeling miscast, Van Dyke nominated Jim Dale (a Disney star in the 70s) and agreed with Travers about Ron Moody… who would have frightened not only the horses but the kids, as well.

  18. Anthony Newley, Doctor Dolittle, 1966.    As if Fox didn’t have enough trouble finding the suitably-aged romantic interest for Dr Rex Harrison, it plainly had no idea for Dolittle pal, Matthew Mugg… going from Danny Kaye and David Wayne in  their  mid-50s to old Bing Crosby at age 64.  “Must go younger, ” said producer Arthur P Jacobs. He didn’t have to look far. The great Tony Newley, 36, had already helped out on the music with his usual composing partner Leslie Bricusse. Or Newberg and Brickman as they called themselves.
  19. Salvo Randone, Satyricon, Italy, 1969.  An offer from Fellini!  The maestro also desired more  of his most cherished Hollywood stars in his ancient Rome extravaganza:  Jimmy Durante, Van Heflin (surprisingly), Groucho Marx and Mae West .
  20. Pierre Etaix, I clowns (UK/UK: The Clowns), TV, Italy-France-West Germany,1970.   And another...  Apart from his favourite Italian clowns (Fanfulla, etc), maestro Federico Fellini wanted Danny  to represent foreign clowns in his documentary... Again, Danny was “too busy.”.  (More like, too scared… of disapointing his Italian pal) .  Enter: the impecca To apologised?ble French mime and caricaturist. Danny visited the shooting of Fellini’s 20th film, La città delle donne/City of Women, 1979. To apologise?

  21. Topol, Fiddler on the Roof,1970.     When word got out that that producer Walter Mirisch and director Norman Jewison were passing on Broadway’s Zero Mostel - “too big for film” - Danny expressed great interest in becoming Tevye. So did Walter Matthau. (Brando,Sinatra (!), Anthony Quinn, Orson Welles were also rumoured to be keen). None got to first base once Topol ended his run of the West End production in London.  Mostel remained  bitter; like his son. When offered the Delta House series in 1979, Josh Mostel rasped: ”Tell them to ask Topol’s son if he wants the job!"
  22. Peter Sellers, The Optimists of Nine Elms,1973.    The role was written in the ‘60s for Buster Keaton. The Money Men refused him but backed, first, John Mills (a bizzare choice; no matter he promptly broke his leg) and then Danny. However, the Optimists were shelved for several years until Sellers made it - beautifully. Channeling more  Dan Leno, than Keaton.
  23. Art Carney, Harry and Tonto1974.       Auteur Paul Mazursky wrote it for Jimmy Cagney to be the widower of 72, on an odyssey across the US after being evicted with his cat, Tonto. Also refusing: Cary Grant, Laurence Olivier and Frank Sinatra. And, of course, as Mazursky used to write for his TV show, Danny Kaye. Danny said: “Not enough jokes!” No, but an Oscar for Carney - on: April 8, 1975.  I know.  I was there.  

Copyright © 2023 Crawley's Casting Calls. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU General Public License.