June Haver

  1. Virginia Mayo,The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, 1946.    Writer James Thurber tried to buy Sam Goldwyn out of making the movie – which  became one of Danny Kaye’s biggest triumph (and joys of my childhood).  Haver was mentioned but Mayo had already gelled well with Danny Kaye in The Kid From Brooklyn, 1945.Thurber loathed the film and Kaye –   although the comedy classic was merely inspired by Thurber’s book, just as it was inspired by  the character his pal Robert Benchley played inn 52 shorts during 1928-1945. (Ben Stiller made a  lousy re-hash in 2013 re-hash!)
  2. Cathy O’Donnell, The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946.
  3. Barbara Lawrence, Margie, 1946.    Haver was all set to be Maybelle Tenor, when she changed her mind. And Barbara answered her phone…  and won her movie debut.
  4. Barbara Lawrence, The Street With No Name, 1947.     Fox suspended Haver for refusing to play Judy Stiles. “After playing that role, I won’t have any name.” (Sam Fuller re-spun it for Fox in 1954 as House of Bamboo; didn’t do much for Shirley Yamaguchi, either).
  5. Betty Grable, The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend, 1948.   Director Preston Sturgess wanted The Pocket Grable – and got the real thing as his saloon singer turned schoolmarm in the Western satire savewd by Betty’s sheer exuberannce.
  6. Betsy Drake,  Dancing in the Dark, 1948.     Cary Grant persuaded Fox boss Darryl Zanuck to buy the musical, originally The Bandwagon, to star Betsy, his future bride. George Jessel produced it, making it clear he had wanted shapelier singer-dancers like Haver or Carole Landis.  Jessel deliberately hired a director disliked by Cary.  And  Irving Reis made life hell for Betsy on-set, particularly when insisting she deliver the line: “I walk like a duck.” And Carole, ex-lover of writer Jacqueline Susann committed suicide, ODing on Seconal. (She was the model for the fragile blonde Jennifer North in Susann’s Valley of the Dolls). Her final lover, the married Rex Harrison, found her body. Ain’t Hollywood wonderful!
  7. Colleen Townsend, When Willie Comes Marching Home, 1949.    Or, when “The Pocket Grable” refused to be Marge Fettles, (An earlier  Fox item had been: Johnny Comes Flying Home), Haver was suspended by Fox (ie no more pay until she came to heel). After a dozen movies, Townsend  quit acting and found God, working with her Presbyterian pastor husband. The Glendale beauty came back for two religion films, one for (and with) evangelist Dr Billy Graham, the other for the Protestant Film Commission (the director, William Beaudine, was an atheist!).  Ironically, she’d had a 19457 walk-on in her seventh film, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!, as:  Girl Leaving Church. Idem for Marilyn Monroe. But she had a line. Saying “Hi there!” to… June Haver! (And she intended to become a nun before her fatal illness in 2005).
  8. Doris Day,Lullaby of Broadway, 1951.     Warners’ plan to borrow Fox’s Haver (The Pocket Grable) were dropped when littleDoris began pushing Betty Grable off the top female spot. Two years later, June quit (after 15 movies) tobecome a nun. Not for long. She left the Sisters of Charity convent in 1954 to marry Fred MacMurray… until his 1991 death.
  9. Jane Greer, Down Among The Sheltering Palms, 1951.  The Fox plan blew up. Dan Dailey preferred to take three months off. Haver refused pont-blank to be the zero Diana Forrester. She was suspended (ie no monthly contract salary).  Dailey, as you might have guessed already, was not… One working title summed up Fox perfectly. Paradise with Serpent.  (The film was shelved until  March 1953).
  10. Debra Paget, Stars and Stripes Forever, 1952.    Or, The Life of John Philip Sousa. Clifton Webb gave up The Band Wagon to be the March King. Haver and Rory Calhoun were early choices for the film’s young lovers, ultimately Paget and Robert Wagner and Debra Paget. Apparently, several Sousa musicians  fled the world premiere in disgust. Obviously, their first biopic.

 Birth year: 1926Death year: 2005Other name: Casting Calls:  10