Richard Boone

  1. Stuart Randall, Pony Soldier, 1952.      Odd title  for a tale of a Mountie…  Boone contracted pneumonia (a usual Fox excuse  for something else) and the Texan Randall took over as the Native Canadian Cree chief, Standing Bear.  The role was revoiced. Anonymously.   Boone would be offered a native American tribal chief again…
  2. James Dean, Giant, 1955.
  3. Eddie Firestone, Bailout at 43,000, 1956.   Instead of joining test pilot John Payne, Boone had to bale out of this movie because of another.
  4. Ricardo Montalban, Cheyenne Autumn, 1964.    No one gives  director John  Ford orders. Why should he cast Boone and Anthony Quinn as Indians just because they had some native American blood, when he had two Mexican pals like Montalban and Gilbert Roland.
  5. Guy Stockwell, The War Lord, 1965.      Difficult to believe but  big bad Boone’s  cousin is… pretty,  sweet Pat Boone!
  6. Paul Newman, Hombre, 1966.    Selling this book to Fox allowed Elmore Leonard to freelance and become the writer he is today. He sent the book to Boone, who had been in The Tall T, Leonard’s first filmed novel (from his Argosy magazine novelette, The Captives). Boone, said Leonard, was “the only actor who has ever spoken my lines the way I wrote them.”  He spoke them here not, alas, in the titular role but as the villainous Cicero Grimes.
  7. Jack Lord, Hawaii Five-0, TV, 1968-1980.     Even though Boone lived on Hawaii, he still said no when creator Leonard Freeman called him after Gregory Peck passed on island cop Steve McGarrett.  Besides, one series was enough for Boone – after his iconic Paladin in Have Gun, Will Travel, 1967.
  8. William Holden, The Wild Bunch, 1968.  
  9. Hans Meyer, Les Etrangeres, France-Italy-Spain-West Germany, 1968.  To follow ttheir Classe tous risques(almost obliterated by the Belmondo explosion, A bout de souffle ( I saw them both on the same day on my first trip to Paris in 1960), scenarist Pascal Jardin wanted Lino Ventura is a film of  the French crime novel, L’Oraison de plus fort.  Ventura even worked on the scenario but despite lofty plans of such co-stars as Jane Fonda, Terence Stamp and Richard Boone, Ventura quit and Michel Constantin, fast becoming his stand-in (though lacking his charisma), took over.
  10. Marlon  Brando,  The Night  of the Following  Day, 1969.       Boone replaced a busy Yves Montand, until Brando’s ex-agent Jay Kanter joined the production with, inevitably, Brando in tow. Boone took another role and joined  Brando in  banishing  director Hubert Cornfield. Marlon called him Herbert –  “he makes me wanna throw up.”  Boone, after discussing one scene,  told Cornfield: “Makes about  as  much  sense as a  rat  fucking a  grapefruit.” Brando insisted Boone direct  the final  fortnight’s  shooting.  His style worked:   “Hey asshole, it’s me.  Don’t pull that shit on me. Quit phoning in your lines.”

  11. Chief Dan George, Little Big Man.  1970.  
    Despite walk-ons from General Custer, and Wild Bill Hickok, the main characters in Thomas Berger’s novel (!) history of the West  were the on-screen narrator Jack Crabb (the world’s oldest man at 121) and his mentor, the chief of the Cheyenne nation, Old Lodge Skins.  Known for his activism on behalf of native Americans on and off-screen, Marlon Brando was, perhaps, unsurprisingly offered the role. Brando  passed.  Next? Richard Boone, even Paul Scofield passed.  They all agreed with the novelist’s   opinion (in his book!)  that Caucasians were rarely believable as native Americans.  And then, well you can almost still hear some smart alec suit saying “What about the guy did Othello a few years back?” And sure enough Laurence Olivier was contacted!  Words escaped him. Finally, Penn did the right thing and, superbly, native Canadian Chief Dan George – actor, musician, poet  and head of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouverwon instant glory, plus the first Oscar nomination for any his people.  

  12. Robert Shaw,  The Sting,  1973.       “Such a drunk at that point,” said producer Julia Phillips,  “that he doesn’t even respond to the offer.”  Director George Roy Hill had the role beefed up for  him.  He finally refused –  two weeks before shooting. Shaw’s limp was no looka-me gimmick – he’d hurt his leg playing racquetball.
  13. Jackie Gleason, Smokey and  the Bandit, 1977.  Universal wanted Boone. Burt Reynolds insisted upon Gleason – and Sally Field – in what was one of  Hitchcock’s favourite movies. Honestly!


 Birth year: 1917Death year: 1981Other name: Casting Calls:  13