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Bonita Granville (1923-1988)

  1. Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz, 1938.
  2. Jane Withers, Her First Beau, 1940. Columbia’s posters screamed: Love Begins At 16! For Jackie Cooper (from Paramount) and Withers (from Fox) instead of Granville, although she made the better transition from kid top “adult” star. On retiring in the 50s, she produced the Lassie TV series, 1959-1978.
  3. Ann Blyth, Mildred Pierce, 1944.     Ann Rutherford,  Shirley Temple, Martha Vickers and Virginia Weidler also tested for Veda, spoilt brat daughter of the titular Joan Crawford’s classic film noir. This was Blyth’s finest hour - she should have won an Oscar like Crawford. For  her next 42 roles Blyth simply played pretty and safe.
  4. Anne Baxter, The Razor's Edge, 1946.    Fox production guru Darryl F Zanuck dropped the 30s’ Nancy Drew after Anne pleaded to test. Her performance won over Zanuck and Oscar.
  5. Heather Sears,  The Story of  Esther Costello,  1956.     The ex-Nancy Drew reporter-detective was eager to portray the mute and blind UK heroine known - to her protector’s oily husband - as The Golden Virgin.  However,  the suits wisely wanted an unknown and, well, younger than Bonita’s 33.  Auteur Sam Fuller had tried to make the melo with Simmons, Joan Collins, Susan Strasberg, Natalie Wood. And Heather Sears, who won  the British Academy Award for Best Actress, was  21.   Granville later produced  the 1954 Lassie TV series with her millionaire husband Jack Wrather (he had produced some of her teenage roles) plus four Lassie tele-movies and 319 episodes of the 1959-1973 canine doings. 


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