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Dorothy McGuire (1916-2001)

  1. Joan Fontaine, Rebecca, 1939.
  2. Anne Baxter, The Eve of St Mark, 1943.     After what Fox called “exhaustive tests,” McGuire won the role of Janet Feller in the screen take on Maxwell Anderson’s Broadyway hit. When she later proved unavailable, Maureen O’Hara stepped in - and out. The luckier third Janet was Baxter
  3. Ingrid Bergman, Spellbound,  1944.    When the leading man was Joseph Cotten, not Gregory Peck... In what Alfred Hitchcock  liked to put down as “just another manhunt wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis”
  4. Irene Dunne, Anna and the King of Siam, 1945.   Early on, Fox production chief Darryl F Zanuck made overtures to David O Selznick about loaning McGuire for the governess of King Mongkut’s children.  The “petty” DOS was never easy to deal with. “If David comes off his high horse we will use McGuire; if not, we will have practically the pick of the industry for this role”:  Jean Arthur, Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Myrna Loy and Merle Oberon, and De Havilland asked Ernest Lubitsch to intercede on her behalf.  Then, DFZ added: “I forgot to mention Irene Dunne although in my opinion she is too old for it.” Doh!
  5. Jeanne Crain, A Letter To Three Wives, 1948.     Originally To Four  Wives…Too long, snapped head Fox Darryl Zanuck. Kill one wife! (So Anne Baxter’s Martha never got Addie’s letter about running off with one of their spouses). Other potential wives were McGuire, Alice Faye, Maureen O’Hara, Gene Tierney.  Paramount publicist turned producer David F Friedman made a hardcore version, Alexandra, with Rachel Summers (aka Ashley) in 1983.
  6. Janet Leigh, Little Women, 1949.     Producer David O Selznick could not decide between McGuire or Shirley Temple for Meg to  support his wife,  Jennifer Jones (as Jo)  in his 1946 project,  cancelled after a few weeks' shooting and a labour strike.  The Selznicks (she was his  very own Susan Alexander were  wrecked after Duel in the Sun. So, he sold his script to MGM to inaugurate its 25th anniversary schedule.
  7. Marilyn Monroe, Don’t Bother To Knock, 1951.     Another  early important early role for Marilyn (alongside Clash By Night that year) as head Fox Daryl Zanuck belatedly began to realise  he had a  potential star on his hands and not just a fellatrix on her knees. 
  8. Gloria Grahame, The Greatest Show on Earth, 1951.     Three years before CB De Mille made his old dream of a circus film (and inspired a six-year-old Phoenix kid named Spielberg to make movies),  the Gone With The Wind producer David O Selznick planned risking $6m on a big top number named after the slogan of the Ringling Bros circus. The DOS line-up would have featured Joseph Cotten, Jennifer Jones, Louis Jourdan, Dorothy McGuire, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Shirley Temple and Alida Valli.  Obviously the DeMille  epic had a different script, but it’s safe to surmise  that the characters  Would Have Been Much The Same… Trapeze Star, Lion-Tamer, Elephant Girl, Circus Boss.
  9. Teresa Wright, The Actress, 1953.      Ruth Gordon wanted Spencer Tracy to play her father in her script of her autobiographical play. She had already written two of his and Katharine Hepburn’s nine films (Adam’s Rib, Pat and Mike) with husband Garson Kanin.. Finding mother was not so easy. Shirley Booth was rehearsing aplay; Uta Hagen was “stunning” said Kanin, but... Helen Hayes felt too old; Maureen Stapleton, Jane Wyman were also listed andTracy voted Dorothy McGuire... not for the only time.
  10. Claire Trevor,  The High and the Mighty, 1953.   All aboard the flying Grand Hotel - a DC-4 piloted by John Wayne and Robert Stack and stuffed to the flaps with the kind of mixed cliché   bag of passengers that continued into the Airport films and was torn to shreds by the Airplane comedies. Tasty or not, the roles were basically cameos. And, therefore, beneath the high and mighty McGuire, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Ida Lupino, Ginger Rogers and Barbara Stanwyck. They all rejected the sassy old broad, described by New York Times critic Bosley Crowther as a gallant lady of much circulation. Trevor won an Oscar nod.
  11. Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1955.
  12. Irene Papas, Tribute To A Bad Man, 1955.     When Grace Kelly cooled (she was hoping for Giant), Spencer Tracy began to question his own interest on the project All the more so when finding a replacement proved as troublesome as his health. No one wanted the part:McGuire, Jennifer Jones, Eva Marie Saint, Marjorie Steele, etc. Spence voted McGuire. Director Robert Wise preferred “the simply awful Greek” - of whom Tracy had also commented: “Boy or girl?”
  13. Loretta Young, The Farmer’s Daughter, 1963.   Gone With The Wind producer David O Selznick was first to obtain the rights of the Swedish play, Juurakon Hulda, by Hella Wuolijoki. As the titular woman was also Swedish, he naturally offered it to Ingrid Bergman.  She backed off because of Film City rumours about her having an affair with Joseph Cotton. Also turned down by Dorothy McGuire and Norway’s Olympic and world ice-skater champion Sonja Henie – a big movie star in the 30s, as an Esther Williams on ice.  DOS sold the piece to RKO, where Loretta’s co-star was… Cotten.


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