Lana Turner


  1. Lynne Carver, Everybody Sing, 1937.   Turner tested for Judy Garland’s  sister.  As if anyone looks at Judy’s sister.  Indeed, as if anyone looked at the movie – Fred Astaire first flop.  Despite Judy,  Fannie Brice (the real Funny Girl  and George Gershwin’s music.    Gersh-lose tthis time.
  2. Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  3. Lorraine Krueger, Idiot’s Delight, 1939.    Turner  was booked  among the  blondes  carrying Clark Gable  off at the end of his one and only song ’n’ dance routine. Except she was rushed back to hospital after a botched appendectomy.  Scared of messing  up, Gable ordered  a closed set while he was “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
  4. Florence Rice,  At The Circus, 1939.      Lana would have been the sexiest Marx Brothers’ blonde  since Thelma Todd in Horse Feathers, 1932. Instead, the  title  went to Groucho’s choice for Love Happy, 1949, “a young lady who can walk by me in such a manner as to arouse my elderly libido and cause smoke to issue from my ears.”  Marilyn Monroe.
  5. Veronica Lake, I Wanted Wings, 1939. Paramount had siren Sally written for Hayworth, but Columbia would not play ball. The role was inappropriate! Turner, Susan Hayward and Patricia Morison were chased until Constance Keane became Sally under her new name… Veronica Lake. The New York Times said she had “little more than a talent for wearing low-cut gowns.” She sure got better.
  6. Rosalind Russell, They Met In Bombay, 1940.    Actually, they met in Calabasas and the Malibu Hills. Turner was dropped to make this the third and and final partnering of Clark Gable and Russell – the first title was Unholy Partners.  His next Russell was… Jane. 
  7. Ingrid Bergman, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1941.     Cast as the doctor’s sweet  fiancee, Ingrid  preferred to be Hyde’s whore. She got her way. Spencer Tracy did not. He wanted both roles played by the same actress –  his Kate Hepburn.
  8. Lucille Ball,  Best Foot Forward, 1942.   When Columbia’s detested chieftain Harry Cohn couldn’t get Rita Hayworth and Shirley Temple for a film of the Broadway hit, he let MGM buy him out for $150,000.  Enter Turner as herself – until her pregnancy meant that Lucy, the Queen of the Bs finally got an A. Lana’s baby  was Cheryl Crane  who grew up to, if it pleases the court, to save her mother ‘s life… Crane was   charged,  at age 15, with stabbing her Turner’s gangster lover, Johnny Stompanato, to death.  The girl  said she was protecting her mother from an assault and the court agreed: justifiable homicide.  The gay Crane later became a real-estate agent, with her partner of 30-plus years, Jocelyn “Josh” LeRoy.
  9. Judy Garland, Presenting Lily Mars, 1942.   Lana was busy and couldn’t handle two dramas at once. While poor Judy was already shooting Girl Crazy and her number for the Thousands Cheer ensemble when pushed into the (now) musical-comedy screwballer. (Said actor Gil Stratton:  “MGM killed her, absolutely.”..  Not among her best known works. And therefore a cult! Never mind, Meet Me In St Louis was around the next corner.
  10. June Allyson, Music For Millions, 1944.    One role was settled. Little Margaret O’Brien was the kid sister of a musician  – “who scrapes a ‘cello,” said the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther. The scraper went from Susan Peters to Donna Reed to Lana Turner (too soon after Turner gave  birth to Cheryl Crane)  to, ,finally, Allyson. No one agreed. O’Brien was the top-billed draw – at seven! Plus Jimmy Durante, with extra, beefed up material due to his breakthrough eight months earlier in Two Girls and a Sailor (also with Allyson).
  11. Angela Lansbury,  The Harvey Girls, 1945.     The birds  are waitresses at the famous 1880s’ Fred Harvey restaurant chain. (MGM accepts any excuse for a Judy Garland musical).  Turner, Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, Ann Sothern, had the good fortune to lose Em – which had poor Lansbury hissed at by the public for  being a rival (on-screen) to everyone’s sweetheart.  Judy! The first idea had been  a drama for Clark Gable and Turner. But she was  was too busy with her  tycoon lover, Howard Hughes. Then, producer Arthur Freed (like who else) decided it should be a musical for Gable and Garland. Just back from WWII, Gable refused to return in a %$#@& musical! He went into the more dramatic Adventure… and Turner waited for Gable’s final MGMovie in 1954: Betrayed.

  12. Linda Darnell, Forever Amber, 1946.  
    Fresh in from London, poor Peggy Cummins was sacked – by director-ogre Otto Preminger, replacing John M Stahl. Or as co-star Cornel Wilde reported: “Peggy flashed her two expressions for 39 days [until Darryl] Zanuck finally admitted she just couldn’t do it.” Previous choices were also Brits: Vivien Leigh, Margaret Lockwood. Preminger wanted Turner (perfect), but Zanuck  preferred his discovery. Otto gave a dinner party and invited, among others,  Zanuck and Lana. “It’s up to you now,” Preminger advised her. “She did her best. She flirted shamelessly with Zanuck, at one point sitting on his lap.   . But  he wouldn’t change his mind. I gave in. I had to.”  Final version was condemned by The Catholic Legion of Decency for its “glamorisation of immorality and licentiousness” …in the 1660s!   By 1957, Otto agreed:  “The worst  picture  I ever made!” An ogre maybe, but at least an honest one!

  13. Shelley Winters, A Double Life, 1947. Six girls tested for director George Cukor at Universal – including Lana, at MGM’s behest. Shelley was the only one he  remembered from his great Scarlett O’Hara hunt, when she was 13.
  14. Audrey Totter,  Lady in the Lake, 1946.    MGM plans in 1945 to turn the Raymond Chandler story into a Lana vehicle changed when the suits “nullified”   Totter’s loan-out for Universal’s The Killers – and gave  the ex-radio actor her first star billing opposite Robert Montgomery as Philip Marlowe and debuting director utilising the subjective camera technique.  Also in the official cast, Ellay Mort, as the murder victim  :  a phonetic spelling of the French for “she is dead”- elle est morte.
  15. Ava Gardner, The Great Sinner, 1948.       Oh dear… “The story is inspired by the work of a great writer, a gambler himself, who played for his life and won immortality.”  And that is the demi-credit for the adapted novella The Gambler by the un-named Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky. Adding insult to injury, the working title was The Gamblers…. covering Gregory Peck and  and Gardner. It was such a flop that German director  Robert Siodmak refused to admit that he had actually made it!
  16. Jennifer Jones, Madame Bovary, 1949.     What a notion! Lana was ousted as her image plus the erotic plot loomed large as a Breen Office censorship battle. Hollywood sniggered as Jones stated her role of a young  mother deserting husband and child to gain romance and social status was “completely out of keeping with my own personality.” D’oh! It was an exact, mirror-image of her desertion of actor Robert Walker and their sons for producer David Selznick.
  17. June Allyson, The Reformer and The Redhead, 1949.   Turner had once been set – just not in concrete – as the hot-tempered daughter fighting for the job of her zoo-keeper father. And falling for their lawyer: Robert Taylor.   They were switched into the great couple (on-screen and off), Allyson and Dick Powell, in the first of three films together.
  18. Barbara Stanwyck, To Please A Lady, 1949.    Turner was announced as Clark Gable’s co-star in the fast moving motor-racing drama- then quickly dethroned by La Barb. Director Clarence Brown had been a car test driver before running a car sales agency. Imagine that.  A car salesman becomes a director… only in Hollywood! 
  19. Deborah Kerr, Quo Vadis, 1950.     Took America 26 years to film Henryk Sienkiewicz’s 1895 epic novel about ancient Rome. MGM won the rights in 1925. And planned to shoot the ancient Rome  epic in  1935…or ’42… or ’43… By 1950,  Turner was in  director William Wyler’s mix for Lygia.
  20. Judy  Holliday,  Born  Yesterday,  1950.      Columbia’s crude chief Harry Cohn spent the first $1m for a play – written for Jean Arthur – as a Rita Hayworth vehicle.  As she swanned around  Europe with the Aly Khan,  Cohn preferred Arthur, Turner, Alice  Faye, Paulette Goddard, Gloria Grahame, Celeste Holm, Evelyn Keyes, Marie McDonald, Marilyn Monroe, Jan Sterling  – anyone other than  “the fat Jewish broad,”  the understudy who had made the play a hit. Katharine Hepburn waged a campaign to change Cohn’s mind, by virtually turning Judy’s support role in Tracy and Hepburn’s Adam’s Rib into the most elaborate screen test. An act of generosity unsurpassed in  Hollywood history.   Cohn gave in, gracefully. “Well, I’ve worked with fat assess before!” He paid a  meagre $4,500 to the actress who   did the impossible – and wrested Oscar from Bette Davis in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd on March 29, 1951 Judy also won  Kate for a lover – Hepburn’s final lesbian  affair at a  mere 43.

  21. Shelley Winters, My Man and I, 1951.     Shelley at her best showd just why Lana was never right for the alcoholic Nancy. Anyway, imagine a poster with the first title and star: Lana Turner Shameless. Owch!
  22. Esther Williams, Easy To Love, 1952.     Once Turner left andf Williams dived in – everything became very…wet.  Includng Esther after diving  into a lake from a trapeze suspended from a helicopter.  Call her Jean-Paul Belwilliams!
  23. Arlene Dahl, Sangaree, 1952.   The Paramount pot-boiler changed titles (from Savannah) and lovers, from Turner and Clark Gable to Dahl amnd Fernando Lamas. (They wed in 1964 – for six years).
  24. Ava Gardner, Mogambo, 1953.     MGM have her three choice of two movies. “The Mogambo script didn’t appeal to me, and I elected to do Flame and the Flesh. A big mistake! Ava Gardner took the Mogambo role and played it beautifully, but with a script very different from the one I read.”  So there was one agent missing his Christmas hamper…
  25. Tamara Toumanova, Deep In My Heart, 1954.    “To all those who love the music of Sigmund Romberg.” Turner, Linda Christian (Mrs Tyrone Power) and  Eva Gabor were playing musical chairs for leggy French chanteuse Gaby Deslys in the star-stuffed bio-musical.   Cyd Charisse, Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone, Howard Keel, Tony Martin,  Ann Miller, Jane Powell, Russ Tamblyn… even Gene Kelly dancing with his brother Fred.
  26. Susan  Hayward,  Untamed,  19545.     Everyone from Joan Crawford and Lana to Eleanor Parker and Jane Wyman wanted what Fox called “Africolossal.”  Time magazine, however,  called it  “a Zulu lulu.”
  27. Lauren Bacall, The Cobweb,  1954.     Being a neglected wife was, perhaps, too close to home.
  28. Eleanor Parker, Interupted Melody, 1954.  Miss Voluptuous was a rather odd choice for the biopic of Australian opera diva Marjorie Lawrence (1907-1979), making a comeback after polio. Unlike Lawrence, the film was a total flop.
  29. Maureen O’Hara, The Magnificent Matador, 1955.     Like Ava Gardner, Lana simply refused to work with Anthony Quinn. Whereas O’Hara was enchanted with him,  reported  writer-director Budd Boetticher.
  30. Rossana Podesta, Helen of Troy, 1956.      Director Robert Wise displayed little  wisdom  when  selecting a curvy  Italian with limited English  over Lana, Yvonne De Carlo, Rhonda Fleming, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor.  And all the time,. stuck in a minor role, he had the perfect face to launch a thousand ships. That of… .  Brigitte Bardot.  

  31. Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1956. On veteran Hollywood director George Stevens’ list of 30 potential Leslie Benedicts.  Thirty!  Such a list would be impossible today.
  32. Cyd Charisse,  Meet Me In Las Vegas, 1956.     Producer Joe Pasternak’s idea for Lana-Carlos Thompson was re-scored for Charisse-Dan Dailey – with Cyd’s husband Tony Martin topping the Vegas guest stars.
  33. Jean Wallace, Maracaibo (aka Violent Venezuela) 1957.     With Turner in mind, Universal shelled out for the first novel by future Oscar-winning scenarist Stirling Silliphant. Lana had other ideas. Namely, The Lady Takes a Flyer, with Jeff Chandler. Paramount pounced for Cornel Wilde’s Theodora Productions. Which meant Wilde as director and the oil-man hero and, of course, Mrs Wilde as The Girl.
  34. Elizabeth Taylor, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, 1957.   Considered for Maggie the Cat alongside Carroll Baker, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly. Playwright Tennessee Williams  hated the movie and told the queues: “This movie will set the industry back 50 years. Go home!” Then, he took his cheque to the bank.
  35. Eva Marie Saint, Raintree County, 1957.     She  also lost “the  next Gone With The  Wind” – first  planned in 1949  for Lana, Ava Gardner, Robert Walker, Van Heflin.
  36. Kim Novak, Vertigo, 1957.      In the summer of ’56, Turner was Alfred Hitchcock’s choice for Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton. Problem? “She  wanted too much loot.”   Jean Wallace was shortlisted, then Vera Miles -but she was pregnant. Hitch borrowed Novak from Columbia.  In the 2012 Sight & Sound critics’ poll,  Vertigo replaced Citizen Kane as the greatest film of all time. Hitch would not agree. He felt Novak was all wrong and  Stewart too old – the reason why the film flopped.  Hitch never worked with Jim again.

  37. Lee Remick, Anatomy of a Murder, 1958.   
    Lana and Otto – Chapter Two…Obviously she didn’t think slacks went with sitting on laps…  She didn’t approve  the designs of producer-director Otto Preminger’s costumier (and future wife) Hope Bryce.  Lana wanted         a wardrobe far too ritzy for an US Army wife   –  by the fashionable Jean Louis. “Besides,” thundered Preminger, “I and nobody else determined what the actors wear in my films. Lana’s  agent, Paul Kohner, said:  ‘Sorry, she won’t do it.’  ‘Fine,’ I said, ‘send me a letter stating that she would like to cancel her contract unless her clothes are designed byJean Louis.  I will release her immediately. Kohner knew that Columbia was anxious to have her in the film and assumed I was bluffing.  He sent the letterand I released her.  When Columbia executives learned about it, they were very upset.  They even offered to pay Jean Louis’ salary without charging it to the picture. I refused and signed Lee Remick [already selected for Kathryrn Grant’s role] who became a star with the part.”

  38. Shelley Winters, Let No Man Write My Epitaph, 1959. Ten years earlier, Willard Motley’s novel, Knock on Any Door, bred such a successful movie that Columbia czar Harry Cohn made sure he got the sequel. Not a hit. Cohn should have kept Lana as Nellie Romano.

  39. Margaret Leighton, The Sound And The Fury, 1959.     For once Lana  was replaced by a real  actress for this trip deep  into  William Faulkner country.

  40. Janet Leigh, Psycho, 1960.  
    “It was a big joke,” Hitchcock told BBC’sMonitor in 1964.”I was horrified to find some people took it seriously.” Aided by his wife, Alma, Hitch took his time selecting his most famous murder victim, Marion Crane.   Angie Dickinson, Martha Hyer, Shirley Jones, Hope Lange, Piper Laurie, Lee Remick, Eva Marie Saint (from his previous North By North West) and Lana Turner all missed the most infamous shower scene of 78 camera angles and 52 cuts in its three minutes,shot during December 17-23, 1959, with Leigh and body double Marli Renfro. “Just 52 pieces of film stuck together,” said Hitchcock. Dickinson had her own big shower moment 19 years later in Dressed To Kill.  Of course she did – her director was the infernal Hitch copier, Brian De Palma.  Which is why he also also used a body double… and then made a film, called just that. Alexandre O Philippe made a better one, 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene, 2016, telling us all we ever wanted to know about what made Jane Leigh take baths for the rest of her life. As to ace credits designer Saul Bass actually directing the sequence, that’s a whole other story. Leigh said he didn’t.  He assured  me he did!

  41. Susan Hayward, Back Street, 1960.   For the third Hollywood take on Fannie Hurst’s notorious weepie, La Turner was favourite for the mistress of… well, Steve Forrrest, Cary Grant, William Holden, Peter Lawford, Gregory Peck  or Efrem Zimbalist Jr.   They became La Hayward and wooden John Gavin. Turner  had previously starred in the same studio’s Imitation of Life (never was a title more honest)  also by Fannie Hurst.John Boles-Irene Dunne were the couple in Universal’s first take in 1931; Charles Boyer-Margaret Sullavan in the second, 1940.

  42. Geraldine Page, Sweet Bird of Youth, 1961.  Scripter-director Richard Brooks wanted Garbo and no one else as the Hollywood hasbeen Alexandra Del Lago  – think Norma Desmond with a star with a Tennessee Williams spin – Alexandra Del Lago spin. She did not agree, of course. (“Me, a has been?”) Brooks tried Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, plus Greek Melina Mercouri and Austrian Maria Schell, – before realising no one could match Geraldine Page from the   Broadway play – which also featured her husband, Rip Torn. Their Big Apple postbox was marked Torn Page!

  43. Joan Crawford, The Caretakers, 1962. Producer Hall Bartlett tried to win Lana and Kirk Douglas   – twogether again! – for   Nurse Terry and Dr MacLeod.  But made do with Robert Stack, Joan Crawford, and a special screening of the mental health care drama  at the US Senate.

  44. Bette Davis, Dead Ringer, 1963  Robert Aldrich was at the helm when Lana  refused to play twins (good and bad). Davis passed on a Sinatra Clan cameo in the  4 For Texas Western  to make the horror film because she’d been here before – twinning A Stolen  Life, 1945.  Aldrich and Davis had made Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? the year before  but when she turned up for Ringer, her director was another twin specialist – her lighting-two-cigarettes-at-once Now, Voyager co-star Paul Henreid.  “The original; script…  was appallingly bad,” recalled Bette.  “Paul and I worked  very hard to make it plausible at all. We did not completely succeed. Also we were forced by Warner Bros to change the ending. The Warner ending was so ordinary

  45. Anne Bancroft, The Graduate, 1967.    








 Birth year: 1920Death year: 1995Other name: Casting Calls:  45