Janet Leigh


  1. Dorothy Patrick, Alias a Gentleman, 1947. On leaving jail after 15 years, Wallace Beery finds himself rich – and hopes to locate his missing daughter. She was not Leigh. Nor Patrick, for that matter – but an imposter!  

  2. Deborah Kerr, Quo Vadis, 1950.      Director John Huston selected Gregory Peck for Marcus Vinicius and  chose Gregory Peck for Marcus Vinicius and Elizabeth Taylor for Lygia. When Peck’s eye infection delayed shooting, the Lygia substitutes also included Kathleen Bryon and Audrey Hepburn.

  3. Ida Lupino, On Dangerous Ground, 1950.   Also in the snowy mountains frame for the blind Mary were Lauren Bacall, Olivia de Havilland, Faith Domergue Susan Hayward, Wanda Hendrix, Deborah Kerr, Margaret Sullavan, Teresa Wright, Jane Wyman – and Broadway newcomer Margaret Phillips. RKO chose well. Because, although un-credited, Lupino also co-directed the noir thriller with Nicholas Ray. In all, she helmed 41 films and TV shows during 1949-1968 when Hollywood women were just supposed to pout, pirouette and pucker up.

  4. Jean Hagen, Carbine Williams, 1951.      Leigh had to go once James Stewart got his way about playing  the prisoner who invented the M-1 carbine rifle for WWII.  Jim admitted he was too old at 43 for the role – certainly way too old to have Leigh as his wife – at 24.  Hagen was 28, but like Stewart, she looked older. 
  5. Jean Simmons, Young Bess, 1952.        Shooting  Fred Zinnemann’s Act of Violence and starting wardrobe fittings for Little Women at lunchtime, Janet also found time to test as Bess – rehearsed by her MGM mentor, the wife of intended directorGeorge Sidney.”The test turned out well,” recalled Janet. “The studio saw another facet of my possibilities. When the time arrived for actual casting, however, theproducer, Sidney Franklin, settled for a real English actress.”
  6. Jean Simmons, The Robe, 1952.    Ingrid Bergman and Jennifer Jones were considered too old and so  this is the second successive film  Janet lost in a single year to the new Brit in town.  Actually, Debra Paget was signed for Richard Burton’s girl, Diana, in the first (released) CinemaScope movie –  but she proved pregnant.  It’s still her face on the poster. Or so says the legend. For me, the face does not resemble Debra or Jean. There was more drama off-screen…  Simmons had an affair with Burton, who was then warned off by her husband Stewart Granger. With a gun.

  7. Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday, 1952.  
    Frank Capra (and George Stevens) wanted Liz Taylor, William Wyler liked Suzanne Cloutier (the future Mrs Peter Ustinov) for the runaway Princess Ann.   A further 28 actresses were seen, the good, bad and risible like the current sex-bombs Yvonne De Carlo Diana Dors, Gina Lollobrigida, Sylvana Mangano, Shelley Winters.  Apart from, perhaps, Vanessa Brown, Mona Freeman and Wanda Hendrix (even though  her real name as Dixie), the Hollywood hopefuls  – singer Rosemary Clooney(George’s aunt), Jeanne Crain, Nina Foch, Janet Leigh, Joan Leslie, June Lockhart, Dorothy Malone, Patricia Neal, Barbara Rush – were soon discarded, lacking the stature of Euro-royalty. Idem for the Euros – Swedish Bibi Andersson, and the French Capucine, Leslie Caron, Jeanne Moreau. Which left several perfect Brits Claire Bloom, Joan Collins, Glynis Johns, Kay Kendall, Deborah Kerr, Angela Lansbury, Moira Shearer, and, of course, Audrey, … soon gracing the Time cover, hailed by the New York Times as a “slender, elfin and wistful beauty, alternately regal and childlike” with, added Variety, a “delightful affectation in voice and delivery, controlled just enough to have charm and serve as a trademark,” (And, Indeed, it did for evermore).

  8. Debbie Reynolds, Athena, 1954.     Change of genre, change of star… Esther’s typical swimfest churned into a typical MGMusical (new generation) for Powell – and Debbie Reynolds, Virginia Gibson, Nancy Kilgas,  instead of Janet Leigh, Ann Miller, Elaine Stewart.  Esther got a co-writing nod, not enough to stop her leaving Metro after Jupiter’s Darling, 1954. 
  9. Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1955.
  10. Susan Hayward, I’ll Cry Tomorrow, 1955.   MGM went through an odd mix of actresses and ages (from Piper Laurie at 23 to Jane Wyman at 38) to play the 30s’ alcoholic singer Lilian Roth.  Ann Blyth, Grace Kelly (!), Janet Leigh, Jane Russell, Jean Simmons and  Shelley Winters. Director Charles Walters quit when his choice of June Allyson (no, really!) was rejected (obviously) while Ava Gardner stopped trying to win another 30s chanteuse, Ruth  Etting,  in  Love Me or Leave  Me,  to battle  for Roth. After winning Best Actress at the 1956 Cannes festival, Hayward won her fourth Oscar nomination. She won one for  the similar sounding but way heavier I Want to Live! about the 1955 gas chamber execution of alleged killer Barbara Graham. Said her producer Walter Wanger: “Thank goodness, we can all relax, Susie’s won the Oscar she has been chasing for 20 years.”

  11. Diane Foster, The Deep Six, 1958.       Disagreeing with the co-star announced by Warners, Alan Ladd preferred one of theyoungsters he was keen to build within his Jaguar company – soon known as Alley Cat due to his hit ’n’ miss product.  
  12. Connie Stevens, Parrish, 1959. The first director, Joshua Logan, wanted  Vivien Leigh, and Clark Gable  as the parents of the titular teen – to be Warren Beatty falling for Jane Fonda.  When he couldn’t get any of them, he passed the gig to Delmer Daves, who went back to his A Summer Place find, Troy Donahue, chasing  Connie Stevens. Instead of Janet Leigh or Natalie Wood.
  13. Claire Bloom, The Chapman Report, 1962.    When the LA Times prematurely announced Orson Welles as Dr Kinsey – er, Dr Chapman! – it also said that Leigh and Jayne Mansfield would be among his sex-research projects. Director George Cukor did not agree. Most guy’s roles went to Warner’s (cheaper) TV stars – Ray Danton, Chad Everett, Ty Hardin, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, etc. 
  14. Shirley MacLaine, Wives and Lovers, 1963.     And so Janet had to deal with the sudden success of her novelist husband, Van Johnson.
  15. Capucine, The Pink Panther, 1964.
  16. Mia Farrow, The Last Unicorn, 1981.   Leigh, Elizabeth Hartman and Shasi Wells were the mixed bag (and ages) to voice the unicorn in the toon based on the book (and script) by Peter S Beagle. Farrow as a unicorn…  but no – no comment.




 Birth year: 1927Death year: 2004Other name: Casting Calls:  16