- William Powell, Another Thin Man, 1939. And the title was nearly true… Suffering from the death of his bride-to-be, Jean Harlow, and his own cancer battle, Powell had been missing for two years. So, the title was more true when MGM talked to Gardiner and Melvyn Douglas about being the new Nick Charles. Powell bounced back, with shorter working hours, for the third of the six Powell-Myrna Loy gems.
- Charles Coburn, Heaven Can Wait, 1942. The Broadway play opened for Christmas 1934. Eight years later, producer-director Ernst Lubitsch first chose Gardiner as the grandfather of Don Ameche’s Henry Van Cleve… the ladies’ man discussing his life and loves with Laird Cregar’s Satan. Lubitsch encountered some Fox resistance about the project: “it had no message… the hero was only interested in good living, with no aim of accomplishing anything, or doing anything noble.” Yet so much fun!
- Vincent Price, Laura, 1944. No problem in dropping Gardiner as Shelby, but director-ogre Otto Preminger had a bigger fight about using Clifton Webb as the acidic columnist Waldo Lydecker.. Fox boss Darryl Zanuck voted against the known gay – “he flies.” In his first movie since the silent era, the 54-year-old stage actor won an Oscar nomination.
- Millard Mitchell, Singin’ in the Rain, 1951. MGM files show that the Londonder with the Fairbanks moustache was, perhaps, too refined for the harsh Hollywood studio boss RF Simpson. Gardiner had 85 screen roles during 1927-1968, from The Great Dictator to The Man From UNCLE.
Birth year: 1903Death year: 1980Other name: Casting Calls: 4