Maureen Stapleton


  1. Teresa Wright,The Actress, 1953.       Ruth Gordon wanted Spencer Tracy to play her father in her script of her autobiographical play.  She had already written two of his and Katharine Hepburn’s nine films (Adam’s Rib, Pat and Mike) with husband Garson Kanin. And MGM agreed. Finding mother was not so easy. Shirley Booth was rehearsing a play; Uta Hagen was “stunning” said Kanin, but… Helen Hayes felt too old; Tracy voted Dorothy McGuire (not for the first time). Like Jane Wyman, Stapleton had a chance… until director George Cukor felt Teresa had the Wright comedic edge.
  2. Luise Rainer, The Good Earth, 1936.       An early plan, in 1935, was Stanwyck and Nils Asther  for the Chinese couple,  O-Lan and Wang Lung.  Rainer was  the first (and only) consecutive Best Actress Oscar winner…  in the first MGM film to credit production chief Irving Thalberg – after his shock death at 36. His boss, LB Mayer, had told him: “The public won’t buy pictures about American farmers, and you want to give them Chinese farmers?”  Thalberg, as usual, was right – three Oscars from six nominations! 
  3. Rochelle Hudson, Rebel Without a Cause, 1955.  Director Nicholas Ray saw at least six similar age-group actresses – Hudson, Barbara Billingsley, Ruth Hussey, Adele Jergens, Jeanette Nolan Maureen Stapleton – for the mother of Natalie Wood’s Judy.
  4. Shelley Winters, The Diary of Anne Frank, 1958.      The poor teenage Holocaust heroine. deserved better than this … According to his collected papers, Stapleton was director George Stevens’ other idea for Mrs Petronella Van Daan… in hiding – with the Frank family – for two years from the Nazis in the hidden section of an Amsterdam apartment.
  5. Norma Crane, Fiddler on the Roof, 1970.       Considered for Tevye’s wife, Golde, after Anne Bancroft passed. When winning the role, Norma learned she had breast cancer – a fact she revealed only to a few, including her close friend, Natalie Wood… who paid Norma’s hospital and 1973 funeral bills.

 Birth year: 1925Death year: Other name: 2006Casting Calls:  5