Kay Kendall

  1. 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 royal  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 was Dixie), the Hollywood hopefuls  – singer Rosemary Clooney(George’s aunty), 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). 
  2. Susan  Stephen,  As  Long  As  They’re  Happy,  1955. Kay preferred losing her lowly weekly contract pay. Her (steady) replacement later became the first wife of British director Nicolas Roeg – and mother of tfhe next geeneration of UK film-makers,  Luc and Sholto J Roeg.
  3. Susan Stephen, Value For Money, 1955. The script never matched the title and Kay refused a second consecutive Diana Dors comedy. And Rank still wondered why it lost its actresses to Hollywood…
  4. Brigitte Bardot, Doctor At Sea, 1955. Losing Kay to LA, producer Betty Box checked her notes of films seen at Cannes and her piles of French Cinemonde magazines and chanced upon another of her Euro-finds.  And BB became the first actress to be totally nude on a British set (not on-screen, though), after  tearing off  her “ridicule”  panties and nipple-covers during  a shower scene.
  5. Dawns Addams, A King In New York, 1956. Charlie Chaplin’s first film made in England, his final leading role and at three months, his shortest shoot. Ironically, Kay’s widower, Rex Harrison, nearly made Chaplin’s next (and last) film, A Countess From Hong Kong,  in 1966.
  6. Kim Novak,  Bell, Book and Candle,  1958. In refusing to work opposite Kim Novak, Rex Harrison was trying to sell Columbia on co-starring his wife. MGM took the bait with a much  brighter comedy for them:  The Reluctant  Debutante.
  7. Deborah Kerr, The Grass Is Greener, 1960. The luminous Kay Kay died of leukaemia on September 5, 1959.  Her  husband,  Rex Harrison, withdrew from  the comedy. Producer Cary Grant took over with Deborah as his wife, giving his US millionaire role to Robert Mitchum.


 Birth year: 1926Death year: 1959Other name: Casting Calls:  7