James Stephenson

  1. Claude Rains, Kings Row, 1941.         Yorkshireman Stephenson died from a heart attack just before shooting began. Producer Hal Wallis immediately summoned Donald Crisp but settled for Claude Rains as the hero’s medical mentor in “the town they talk of in whispers,” full of murder, sadism, depravity  And worse that had to be axed from Henry Bellamann’s 1940 novel: sex (premarital), sex (gay), incest, suicide…  Peyton Place 16 years before Peyton Place!  And yet, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score was played at President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981.
  2. Claude Rains, Mr Skeffington, 1943.     Stephenson, Paul Henried, John Loder Paul Lukas and Richard Waring had been on the titular short-list. Loveless marriage or not, Bette Davis wanted her older screen husband to be her favourite male partner. And at Warner Bros, whatever Bette wanted, Bette got. For a while.

 Birth year: 1889Death year: 1941Other name: Casting Calls:  2