Mario Lanza

  1. Edmund Purdom, The Student Prince, 1954.   Lanza was “writing a new definition of the word temperament,” wrote producer Joe Pasternak, fed up, like everyone at MGM, with the tenor’s ego. Lanza would not be told how to sing by movie directors and female co-stars refused to work with him (he rubbed himself against them). He then refused to show up for three start dates – in ’52 and ’53. Metro cancelled his contract and sued for $7m, banning him in public, on radio, or recording studios for the remaining 15 months of his contract. Peace was made and Purdom mimed the best of Lanza – the voice that bred operatic dreams in youngsters called Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo and the incomparable Luciano Pavarotti.
  2. Oreste (Kirkop), The Vagabond King, 1956.     No one heeded Joe Pasternak’s warning: “Lanza  could put on 50 lbs as easily and quickly as most people add an ounce.” When he was unceremoniously dumped by Metro,  Paramount was prepared to take him on… until learning his terms – 50% of the profits. Warners signed him for two films at $150,000 each but once Serenade flopped in 1956, he was paid not to make the second.


 Birth year: 1921Death year: 1959Other name: Casting Calls:  2