Larraine Day


  1. Ruth Hussey, Northwest Passage, 1940.    When MGM snapped up the Kenneth Roberts novel in 1937. WS Van Dyke was due to direct Larraine, Wallace Beery,  Robert Taylor and Spencer Tracy,  Spence, alone, made it to the King Vidor version with Walter Brennan, Hussey and Robert Young.  
  2. Betty Field, King’s Row, 1941.    Ida Lupino (and Olivia de Havilland rejected the neurotic Cassandra that Bette Davis craved. Day, Katharine Hepburn, Marsha Hunt, Priscilla Lane, Joan Leslie, Adele Longmire, Susan Peters were also seen for “the town they talk of in whispers,” full of murder, sadism, depravity  And worse that had to be axed from Henry Bellamann’s 1940 novel: sex (premarital),  sex (gay), incest, suicide…  Peyton Place 16 years before Peyton Place!
  3. Donna Reed,  Mokey, 1941.     Change of Dan Dailey’s wife – and stepmother of young Mokey, created in short stories by Jennie Harris Oliver.  Something of a US Just William. Except mischief was due to neglectful elders.  He was played by Bobby Blake – the future Robert Blake.
  4. Ruth Hussey, Tennessee Johnson, 1941.  Day and Martha Scott were on several lists for Eliza McCardle, the teenager ( !) who married the then teenage subject of this biopic. Van Heflin portrayed Andrew Johnson, 17th US President, after the 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
  5. Hedy Lamarr, Experiment Perilous, 1944. As French directors changed from Leonide Moguy to Jacques Tourneur, the principal couple were swtchbacked (and forth) from Cary Grant  (or  Gregory Peck)  to Laraine Day or Maureen O’Hara tand,  finally, George Brent and Hedy Lamarr. Blame Hippocrates for the terrible title: “Life is short, art is long, decision difficult and experiment perilous.”  Matches  the movie.
  6. Maureen O’Hara, The Spanish Main, 1944.   Margo and Merle Oberon were also in the rigging for Countess Francisca – stolen from her fiancé Walter Slezak by Dutch pirate (Dutch?) Paul Henreid.
  7. Katharine Hepburn, Undercurrent, 1945.  The reason why Day quit MGM was… another Kate disaster… She sure could pick (and survive) them. MGM’s head lion, Louis B Mayer, told Laraine if she joined Lana Turrner’s Keep Your Powder Dry, 1944, he’d give her the “better” Undercurrent. She did. He did not – booking Hepburn instead for Robert Taylor’s comeback from WW11 service. Rightly pissed off, Day demanded a release from her Metro contract… and worked for every other studio in town, Best remembered as Nurse Lamont in Metro’s Dr Kildare franchise, she lost all the roles that would have made her a star, from Samson and Delilah to Sorry, Wrong Number.
  8. Donna Reed, It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946.
  9. Lana Turner, Green Dolphin Street, 1946.    The game plan in May 1945 was Day and Gregory Peck for the turgid romance, set in New Zealand, amid earthquakes and Maori uprisings.  They became Turner and Van Heflin.
  10. Barbara Stanwyck, Sorry, Wrong Number, 1947.  The Mormon actress was Anatole Litvak’s first choice for the bedridden heiress Leona Stevenson – all alone and  terrified after accidentally overhearing a planned murder on her phone.  La Barb shot all her solo scenes in chronological order over 12 days, winning  her fourth and last Oscar nomination. 

  11. Hedy Lamarr, Samson and Delilah, 1948.
    Cinemperor Cecil B DeMille’s 1935 plan had been had Henry Wilcoxon with Joan Crawford, Larraine Day, Dolores Del Rio, Paulette Goddard, Jane Greer or Miriam Hopkins.   Next in line, producer David O Selznick envisaged Kirk Douglas and Marlene Dietrich… By ’48, CB got serious.  He sought a mix of Vivien Leigh, Jean Simmons and “a generous touch of Lana Turner”  from among… Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Rhonda Fleming (the Queen of Babylon, 1954), Ava Gardner, Greer Garson (Mrs Miniver!!), Susan Hayward (1951’s Bathsheba), Rita Hayworth (the future Salome), Jennifer Jones (St Bernadette in 1943), Patricia Neal, Maureen O’Hara, Nancy Olson (too demure), Jean Peters, Ruth Roman, Gail Russell, Ann Sheridan, Gene Tierney… even such surprises as comical LucIlle Ball (!) and song ‘n’ dancer Betty Hutton.  Plus the Dominican Maria Montez (perfect!), Italian Alida Valli and two Swedes: Viveca Lindfors and Marta Toren.  But CB had already fancied Lamarr for his unmade epic about the Jewish queen Esther (played by Joan Collins in 1960).  Here’s a Samson review signed Groucho Marx: “No picture can hold my interest where the leading man’s bust is larger than the leading lady’s!”

  12. Maureen O’Sullivan, Where Danger Lives, 1949.     As Day’s nurse was passed to O’Sullivan and the feisty Maureen O’Hara was subbed by Faith Domergue, poor ER doc Robert Mitchum had to be careful where he put his hands. Domergue was his boss Howard Hughes’ latest, er, find and O’Sullivan was wed to his director, John Farrow.

 Birth year: 1920Death year: 2007Other name: Casting Calls:  12