Ray Danton

  1. Ralph Meeker, The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, 1956.    Danton was Mike until Jane Russell’s husband Bob Waterfield (co-producing with her) saw the first days’ rushes. He said Danton was too young for Jane – meaning he made her look too old.  (He was ten years younger). Meeker moved in as Danton left with…  “laryngitis.” (So he couldn’t talk to the columns?).
  2. Robert Evans,  The Fiend Who Walked The West, 1957.    Sword and sandal epics were in.  And producer Sam Zimbalist, who’d made one of the biggest – Quo Vadis, 1950 –  was back in Rome, re-making the 1923 silent Ben-Hur.  (Sergio Leone claimed he directed the stunning  chariot race. He did not).        Losing Messala were Kirk Douglas (now you know why he became Spartacus), Charlton Heston (who became Judah Ben-Hur). Plus Steve Cochran, Ray Dan Leslie Nielsen, way too  old Robert Ryan (when a way too old Burt Lancaster was to be Judah Ben-Hur) and Scottish. Bill Travers. Were they bright enough to comprehend what Heston never twigged – that “contributing writer” Gore Vidal implied Judah and Messala had been lovers. 
  3. Frederick Stafford, Furia à Bahia pour OSS 117 (US: OSS 117: Mission For A Killer), France-Italy, 1965.    Kerwin Matthews had become too expensive for French pockets after two OSS 117 films about Jean Bruce’s secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath. Réalisateur André Hunebelle (surprisingly aged at 68 for modern spy romps) looked over other Americans moonlighting in Europe – Lex Barker, Ken Clark, Richard Harrison, George Nader – and chose the wooden Frederick Stafford when Danton was a better actor and Sean Flynn better looking. Certainly, the Czech-born Stafford was the only OSS 117 to work for Hitchcock – proving just as wooden in Topaze, 1969. And to think, Hitch once thought John Gavin wooden in Psycho.


 Birth year: 1931Death year: 1992Other name: Casting Calls:  3