Jane Powell


  1. Ann Blyth, The Student Prince, 1952.     “I didn’t quit movies. They quit me.” She refused point-blank to work with Mario Lanza – eventually replaced, because of his weight, by Edmund Purdom, miming to the tenor’s arias.
  2. Cyd Charisse, Brigadoon, 1953.     MGM’s first plan for the downright silly musical about a Scottish Highlands town waking up  for a  day once a century had been Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson.  Then Grayson and Gene Kelly, finally Charisse and Kelly… who threw in the choreography, as well. Didn’t help. Great first half, lousy second. Major flop.
  3. Doris Day, Love Me Or Leave Me, 1954.  The role? The 30s’ stage and screen singer Ruth Etting, a shady chanteuse caught up with a gangster called  Marty “The Gimp” Snyder. Ava Gardner didn’t want her singing dubbed as in Show Boat.  Janes Morgan  and Powell  were just too sweet .(Ruth voted for Powell).  A third Jane (Russell)  was hoping to play another singer, Lilian Roth in I’ll Cry Tomorrow.  And so co-star James Cagney suggested Doris Day for the role, far from all her future virgins. Her best work, she thought. Her fans, not so much. Doris lost an Oscar but won Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, as a result.
  4. Shirley Jones, Oklahoma! 1955. He saw both but director Fred Zinnemann wanted actors rather than singers. Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Paul Newman, Dale Robertson, Robert Stack, plus singers Vic Damone and   Howard Keel, as Curly… Ann Blyth, Ailene Roberts, Eva Marie Saint, Joanne Woodward and singers Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell… or even Piper Laurie for Laurey…Ernest Borgnine, Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin, Rod Steiger or Eli Wallach as poor Jud Fry. For a wee while, it looked as if Woodward and future husband Paul Newman would be Laurey and Curly. However, the musical’s parents had casting approval – Rodgers and Hammerstein agreed only about Steiger.  And Oklahoma was played by Arizona!
  5. Janet Blair, Public Pigeon No 1, 1956.   After Audrey Meadows, Powell was wanted by comic-turned-producer Red Skelton – for what proved his final film. Powell was Elizabeth Taylor’s bridesmaid at her first marriage, caught the bug, married five times – with Liz being her first bridesmaid. Within two years Powell was stuck in TV. “I didn’t quit movies. They quit me.”

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  5