Maurice Chevalier

  1. Jack Buchanan, Monte  Carlo,  1929.  Tired of being “debonair and cute, devoid of emotional depth,” he refused the aristocrat posing as a hairdresser.  Director Ernst Lubitsch simply changed accents.
  2. Robert Taylor, Her Cardboard Lover, 1940.   Taylor sings…!  Because the Frenchman quit in huff in 1935 when MGM’s production genius Irving Thalberg gave him  second  billing to Norma Shearer, aka Mrs Thalberg.  It was her last film, after Thalberg died in 1936.  As for Chevalier, he never worked in Hollywood again until Can-Can… 24 years later!  
  3. Georges Guétary, An American In Paris, 1950.    Or on the MGM back lot… Chevalier had not made a Hollywood movie since 1934 and although his name came up among various French singers, he supposedly refused any comeback because (a) he didn’t get the girl or (b) he didn’t want to act old  – he was 62. (Guétary had a grey rinse to look older than Gene Kelly).  However, (c) was the likeliest reason: MGM passed, due to anti-Chevalier feelings in France and elsewhere regarding alleged collaboration with the Nazis during their WWII occupation of France. Guétary triumphed with his ‘Stairway To Paradise’ song.
  4. Michael Redgrave, Oh… Rosalinda!!, 1955.    “To co-star with Bing Crosby,” said Chevalier. “That’s sensationelle… But what billing?  I wouldn’t expect to come in front of Bing Crosby… of course not… I wouldn’t like to come after him, either.”   Director Michael Powell suggested: Bing Chevalier and Maurice Crosby.
  5. Fernandel, Around The World In 80 Days, 1955.     Producer Mike Todd filled his epic with star cameos and wanted Chevalier as the Paris cabby.  A dispute over billing  – yet again! – explained why, finally,  the  coachman’s teeth matched those of his horse!
  6. Paul Henreid, Holiday for Lovers, 1958.   Head Fox Darryl Zanuck thought of him for Eduardo, father of the beatnik playboy chasing Jill St John. Apparently, the thought did not last long. It was one lousy comedy!
  7. Annibale Ninchio, La dolce vita, 1959.   Italian  genius Federico Fellini always planned on  having the suave Maurice as the suave Marcello’s aging, ailing father. Not so when shooting started – on March 16 – with Marcello chasing Anita Ekberg up a Cinecitta version of the inside of St Peter’s dome. 

 Birth year: 1888Death year: 1972Other name: Casting Calls:  7