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Anita Louise (1915-1970)

  1. Katharine Hepburn, A Bill of Divorcement, 1931.    Looking for the ingenue Sidney, George Cukor tested many hopefuls including Louise, the too expensive Irene Dunne and Jill Esmond (Mrs Laurence Olivier at the time). In from Broadway, Hepburn managed to see their tests and immediately understood why they were all rejected. It was a lousy scene! She chose another for her test. Bingo! Plus an RKO contract and the first of her 52 screen roles.
  2. Lucile Brown, The Devil’s Brother, 1933.      Hal Roach’s first choice for Laurel andHardy’s co-star.
  3. Loretta Young, A Man’s Castle, 1933.     Spencer Tracy was flying high after The Power And The Glory and so all the ladies - like Anita and Fay Wray -wanted the co-star spot whenColumbia agreed to his high-priced loan from Fox. Loretta became infatuated with Tracy (for a year). “The story was a trifle,” she said, “but we lived it.” (She later had a child with her next lover, Tracy's his best pal, Clark Gable).
  4. Olivia De Havilland, The Charge of the Light Brigade, 1935.     Not a question of accent as intonation.  Louise "is an awfully good actress," co-scenarist Rowland Leigh wrote to Warners production chief Hal Wallis,"but to English eyes and ears she is 100% American.  Whereas Miss De Havilland both in looks and voice could, with careful handling, easily be accepted as a young English woman of the Victorian era."
  5. Madeleine Carroll, The Prisoner of Zenda, 1937.     Producer David O Selznick and director John Cromwell tested several potential Princess Flavias. DOS was impressed with Louise, "very beautiful and sincere." Cromwell felt she lackedregal qualities. Brother Myron Selznick solved all by suggesting the perfect Madeleine.
  6. Olivia De Havilland,  The Adventures of Robin Hood,  1937.    Once Errol Flynn donned the Lincoln green - after aborted  plans for a Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald musical version -  Louise was an early idea for Marian.  (In 1945, she was the Marianesque Lady Catherine Maitland opposite Cornel Wilde’s son of Robin Hood, Robert of Nottingham, akaThe Bandit of Sherwood Forest). This was the fourth of Olivia’s nine movies made with Errol Flynn, allegedly her 15th cousin twice removed... whatever that means.
  7.  Margaret Lindsay, Jezebel, 1938.     For an earlier version, Edmund Goulding was due to direct Anita as Amy
  8.  Wendy Barrie, The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1938.    Sir Henry Baskerville’s neighbour was swiftly changed from New York’s Louise  when  a Fox suit said  the UK public  would only accept  an all-British cast.  This was the first of 14 films starring Basil Rathbone as consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Man Friday er, Dr Watson. (They also played Baker Street’s odd  couple in 275 NBC radio  episodes, during 1939-1943). 
  9. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  10.  Joan Fontaine, Rebecca, 1939. 
  11. Osa Massen, A Woman’s Face, 1940. Director George Cukor tested Louise for Melvyn Douglas’ wife  in this re-make of the 1937 Swedish film, En kvinnas ansikte, headlined  by  Ingrid Bergman as Anna. (MGM’s  Anna was, of course, MGM’s Joan Crawford).  Joan Crawford). 



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