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Jane Russell (1921-2011)


  1. Joan Leslie, Sergeant York, 1940.       Howard Hawks thought of Russell for the wife of 1918 war hero - as he’d never directed her much in The Outlaw in 1940 .(Howard Hughes engineered all her scenes).  Her test was good but Alvin C York’s contract insisted on “no oomph girls” playing his wife.
  2. Rita Hayworth, Blood and Sand, 1940.      Good thinking!  Russell was  high  in the frame for Fox’s sexiest role of the year - the manipulative socialite vamp, Doña Sol,  toying with Tyrone Power’s matador in the re-hash of Rudolph Valentino’s 1921 silent classic. Also considered: Lynn Bari, Betty Grable, Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour Carole Landis, Mona Maris, Maria Montez, Jane Russell and Gene Tierney.  And Ava Gardner?  Not synonymous with  bullfighters until the 50s!
  3. Jane Greer, The Big Steal, 1949.     RKO (and TWA) boss Howard Hughes was rushing a Robert Mitchum movie into being for release while Bob was jailed for smoking dope. Producer Hal Wallis would not let his Lizbeth Scott work with a felon, and Hughes finally felt the same about Jane - and so continued his punishment of Greer for not sleeping with him.   When he called her with his offer, he added: “The rabbit died.”   Via his batallion of spies, Hughes knew she   and producer husband Edward Lasker were   pregnant before they did!
  4. Alexis Smith, Split Second, 1952.     For the first of his six films as director, Dick Powell lost Russell as one of the five hostages held by escaped con Stephen McNally on what proves to  be an A-Bomb test site.. (Powell helmed The Conqueror, 1978, at a real and obviously still radiaoctive 1953 atomic bomb test site in Yucca Flat, Nevada, leading to terminal cancer for 90 of the 220 cast and crew, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Powell, himself).
  5. Joan Collins, Our Girl Friday (US: The Adventures of Sadie), 1954.    Howard Hughes, paying her $52,00 annually until 1977, refused to let her make the tame British desert island comedy, best remembered for Joanie’s curves as Sadie... and Peter Sellers supplying the voice of her cockatoo!
  6. Rosemary Clooney, Red Garters, 1954.      Loving her with Paleface Bob Hope, Paramount decided to make another match with Danny Kaye in a musical Western.Their schedules clashed and the studio went el cheapo with Guy Mitchell and Clooney and (exceedingly) sparse sets. Clooney is George Clooney's Aunt Rosemary.  
  7. Betty Grable, How To Be Very, Very Popular, 1954. Fox suits were staggered by the huge success of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1952, and immediately ordered a follow-up for Marilyn and Jane Russell (who called MM, Blondie).  Neither one fancied the idea or the script which is how North, the latest Marilyn photo-copy and Betty Grable, the Fox queen until Monroe arrived, headlined HTBVVP. Or, alternatively: FLOP. “A turkey,” she agreed. As many finale films are. When Marilyn returned it was on her terms.  Bus Stop!
  8. Vivian Blaine, Guys and Dolls, 1954.    Until beaten to the rights by producer Samuel Goldwyn, Paramount planned the musical with Jane, Betty Grable... and Bob Hope!
  9. Doris Day, Love Me Or Leave Me, 1954.    Rejected the Ruth Etting  biopic while busy fighting to play Lilian Roth's in...
  10. Anne Baxter, The Ten Commandments,1954. 

  11. Susan Hayward, I’ll Cry Tomorrow, 1955.  When MGM voted for Hayward and against June Allyson for the alcoholic Broadway/Hollywood singing star Lillian Roth, director Charles Walters stormed out and Daniel Mann strolled in. Also in the loop were Roths of all ages… Piper Laurie, 22; Grace Kelly and Jean Simmons, 25; Janet Leigh, 27; Jane Russell, 33; and Jane Wyman, like Allyson and Hayward, 37. On Oscarnight, Hayward lost a fourth time.
  12. Dorothy McGuire, Friendly Persuasion, 1956.     “[Director] William Wyler wanted me but I was already committed to something else.   [Replacing Marilyn in The Revolt of Mamie Stover].   That could have broken the pattern. I was definitely a victim of Hollywood typecasting.” 





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