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Ruth Chatterton (1893-1961)

  1. Betty Compson, The Docks of New York, 1928.    In Hollywood with husband Ralph Forbes, Ruth impressed on stage but Paramount rejected her after several tests.  Emil  Jannings then insisted she join his Sins of  the Fathers  to launch  her 25-year career. 
  2. Jean  Arthur,  The Greene Murder Case,  1929.        Critic James Agate felt Ruth's talent knocked La Garbo silly.
  3. Helen Hayes, A Farewell To  Arms, 1931.  For the first Ernest Hemingway novel to be filmed, Paramount desired Claudette Colbert-Fredric March. No? OK, how about Gary Cooper-Nancy Carroll. Or,Cooper-Boardman. Finally, MGM loaned Hayes to join Coop, upon whom she had an enomous crush!   Also in the mix for  Catherine Barkley were Chatterton and Claudette Colbert.
  4. Bebe Daniels, 42nd Street,1932.   Whoever finally won Dorothy Brock - Chatterton or Kay Francis - knew well their co-star, George Brent.  He would make six movies with Kay and four with Ruth - and wed her. For two years. (The Irishman also made 11 films with a one-time lover, Bette Davis).
  5. Pauline Lord, A Feather in Her Hat, 1934.   Chatterton was right to pass on what one of th said “was already creaky with age when it came out in 1935.”   As Broadway’s Anna Christie (a decade before Garbo’’s version), the good Lord did better in theatre. Thjs was her second and last movie.
  6. Carole  Lombard,  Twentieth Century, 1934.       Columbia czar Harry or “King” Cohn also considered such unlikely Howard  Hawks women as Tallulah Bankhead, Constance Bennett, Joan Crawford, Kay Francis, Ann Harding, Miriam Hopkins and Gloria Swanson, 
  7. Kay Francis, The House on 56th Street, 1934.       Kay was taking over as Queen of Warners... 
  8. Kay Francis,  Mandalay, 1934.       Ruth walked out and in Kay's next (Al Jolson's Wonder Bar),  Kay's role was slashed  to make room for Dolores Del Rio.
  9. Barbara Stanwyck, Stella Dallas, 1936.       Producer Sam Goldwyn really wanted Chatterton as his Stella. She did not. Because she’d just played the same role, a failed wife, in Dodsworth. Like all actors, she craved something new, fresh, different. Producers never understood that, which is why they invariably made the same film. (Goldwyn first made Stella Dallas in 1924; Sam Jr regurgitated it as Stella with Bette Midler in 1989).
  10. Bette Davis,  Jezebel, 1937.       The brothers Warner started negotiating for  Owen Davis’ play in 1935, for Chatterton - even though the Broadway star, Miriam Hopkins, co-owned the rights and would only sell if she was promised the lead. Warner agreed. And, well, Warner just plain lied… Warner’s  $1.25m response to MGM’s Gone With The Wind opened on March 26, 1938 - the day I was born.
  11. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.


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