Peter Lawford

  1. Tom Drake, Meet Me In St Louis, 1943.     Sue Carol, the  actress-turned agent and married to Alan Ladd,  got Peter  a few seconds in Mrs Miniver, the   massive MGM hit of 1942, various $10-a-day bits, a rather  longer as the school bully  in A Yank At Eton.Impressed by a single, wordless close-up in Pilot #5, also in ‘42, director George Sidney chose him, for a new, more emotional end shot and as Mrs Sidney, Lillian Barnes (MGM’s head drama coach), reported: “The look on his face, in that one shot, caused him to be put under contract to MGM”… on June 7, 1943 $100  a week,  40 weeks work guaranteed, quickly leading to $500 a week, heading towards $2,000 plus a $10,000 signing bonus. Bobby-soxers went mad for him jitterbugging in It Happened In Brooklyn (stealing the film from his new friend, Frank Sinatra), just as their daughters would for the also hip-swinging Elvis…  Back in St Louis,  Drake, Lawford, Van Johnson, Robert Walker… most of  MGM’s young  blades were in  the frame for The Boy Next Door to Judy Garland – livid at 21 to be playing a teenager again until falling for the story and the director. Vincente Minnelli. (Liza arrived in  1946).
  2. Van Johnson, A Guy Named Joe, 1943.   Johnson was smashed up in a car crash on March 31, 1943.  MGM decided to to replace him with Lawford or John  Hodiak. “No,” thundered the film’s top stars, Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne,”we’ll wait until he’s fit again.” Shooting shuttered fort more  than three months –  during which time Dunne knocked off White Cliffs of Dover  with Johnson in a thank-you cameo.  Joe is high among Steven Spielberg’s favourite films, not that you’d know it from his dog’s breakfast of a re-tread, Always, 1989.
  3. Van Johnson, In The Good Old Summertime, 1948.  MGM had more stars… than they knew what to do with.  Example: Andy was Gene Kelly, who  became Peter Lawford,  who became Frank Sinatra who became Van Johnson!  “If Metro signed you,” said ‘Petah’,” you were put into that machine – wrapped in cotton wool, looked after, looked over, looked under.” And MGM was also where the girls were: Hence  affairs with Anne Baxter, Rhonda Fleming, Ava Gardner (separated from Mickey Rooney), Judy Garland, Betty Grable, Marilyn Maxwell… eight months with the one he wanted to marry:  Lana Turner, starting at her 26 to his 21. Only problem – Metro didn’t know what to do with hm. “Most of the  time I spent] sunbathing in my backyard. Every now and then the postman would throw a new script through the front door which I’d be obliged to do whether I wanted to or not.”
  4. John Dehner, Plymouth Adventure, 1952. Once Spencer Tracy got his say about having Gene Tierney as his co-star on the voyage of the Mayflower, he gave in about Dawn Addams (main squeeze of Metro suit Benny Thau) but totally rejected Lawford as carpenter John Alden on the Pilgrim Fathers’ Mayflower, circa 1620. According to Tracy’s brother, Frank: “Lawford was never prepared and was a kind of an airhead.  And Spence did, literally, tell him: Get the hell out of here!”
  5. Farley Granger, Small Town Girl, 1952.   Talk about meet cute… Rich kid gets arrested for speeding in a tiny township – and falls for the sheriff’s daughter. She was Jane Powell. No question about that. But MGM had such difficulty finding the playboy among its own ranks – Lawford, Van Johnson, Dean Miller and Ricardo Montalban – that it borrowed Granger from Samuel Goldwyn Productions. Of the MGM boys, only Miller won a role. As Mac. (There’s always a Mac). 
  6. Vince Edwards, The Killing, 1955,  Five years before Ocean’s Eleven – and a few months before he broke up with Sammy Davis Jr in a typical fit of pique  – Frank Sinatra was keen on another heist story.  Lionel White’s book. Clean Break. New director Stanley Kubrick’s producer partner, James B Harris,  won the rights for a thriller they figured  should star…  Sinatra!  When Ole Blues Eyes finally made up with Sam The Wham, he wanted his Clan  buddies to re-make Kubrick’s Killing, until another Clanster, Peter Lawford (the next pique victim), told him about  Ocean’s Eleven, 1960.
  7. John Gavin, Back Street, 1960.     For the third Hollywood take on Fannie Hurst’s notorious weepie, the married guy with Susan Hayward as a mistress was a battle between  Lawford, Steve Forrrest, William Holden, Gregory Peck… and “how old Cary Grant?” was just that – “too old.”  In her July 15 column, gossip queen Hedda Hopper stupidly suggested Gavin. Hadn’t the great know-all heard that Hitchcock called him The Stiff the year before during Psycho). Bet she never mentioned Gavin never made another Hollywood film for six years!
  8. Victor Buono,Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?  l962.    “It’s a spot I wouldn’t have given to my dry-cleaner.” Lawford agreed to be  the gay  Edwin Flagg” Within two days, he had  changed his mind and quit –  due to family reasons. Could that be  that President JFK disapproved of his Brother-in-Lawford refereeing Bette Davis v Joan Crawford in what rapidly became termed as hagsploitation!
  9. William Windom, The Farmer’s Daughter, TV, 1963-1966.   She was Loretta Young in the 1946 movie,  then Lee Remick (with Peter Lawford) in an NBC tele-film. But when that gelled an ABC series, the couple became Inger Stevens (as Swedish as the character) and William Windom.  A 1940 Martha Raye comedy with  the same title is not the same story. 
  10. Bing Crosby , Robin and the 7 Hoods, 1964.   When the Kennedys fell out with Sinatra, the Brother-in-Lawford (wed to JFK’s sister, Pat) took the brunt of Ole Blue Eyes’ wrath and was dropped from The Clan. And its movies.   Well, this was the last one after Ocean’s Eleven, 1959 (a project actually found by Lawford) and Soldiers 3, 1962. 





 Birth year: 1923Death year: 1984Other name: Casting Calls:  10