Robert Evans


  1. Jeffrey Hunter, Fourteen Hours, 1951.  Evans, the men’s fashion  tycoon turned actor (and future Paramount boss!), then  Robert Wagner  were set for Danny when head Fox Darryl Zanuck preferred Hunter.   Evans lost the audition but got the girl. Grace Kelly. “At least in the figurative sense.”  So did Gary Cooper. He saw her on the lot, booked her for his missus  in High Noon and the rest is…
  2. Keefe Brasselle, A Place in the Sun, 1951.     Evans   tested for veteran director George Stevens. “I didn’t get it, but I did break bread with Cecil B De Mille, Alan Ladd, Fred Astraire… snuck onto Stage 15. Wow, right before me, Billy Wilder was directing Gloria Swanson and Bill Holden in Sunset Blvd. By the time I got the boot, it was too late – rejection had led to obsession. Flicks were now my future.
  3. Bradford Dillman, Compulsion, 1959.    Head Fox, Darryl F Zanuck helped make Evans a star in The Sun Also Rises, etc. “Except for Elvis Presley, I was getting more fan-mail than anyone at 20th Century-Fox.” As soon as Zanuck Snr was back in Paris,   Jnr (Richard Zanuck) replaced Bob   with Bradford in the film of the thrill-killers Leopold and Loeb.   The son also rises.
  4. Peter Falk, Murder Inc, 1960. Rejected the role but kept the girl (May Britt was his lady of the hour). Evans was suspended by Fox. Falk won an Oscar nomination. “Good judgement, huh?”
  5. Audie Murphy, The Unforgiven, 1960.    Exactly, the kind of break he needed – a John Huston Western. Except two years previously, Bob had dallied with Eiko Ando, Huston’s Japanese find for The Barbarbian and The Geisha.   She   was one of Huston’s big loves. Hence the call from Evans’ agent: “Huston’s found out about Eiko – you’re Unforgiven!
  6. Frankie Vaughan, Let’s Make Love, 1960.    His  new supporter was Jerry Wald: “the most entrepreneurial producer in Hollywood.”   He saw Bob as the romantic rage of the 60s. He wuz wrong.   “Playing myself,” said the great ladies man, “I was a dud.   I was a better imitator than actor.”
  7. Ray Danton, Portrait of a Mobster, 1961.    “When you start out in the majors, it ain’t a fun ride ending up in the minors.”   No more interested in Legs Diamond than   he had been in   George Raft, Bob passed it to the pal he had beaten to Fiend. “My instinct must have been right.   Poor Ray, he never became Redford.” But he subbed Evans twice more.
  8. Ray Danton, The George Raft Story (UK: Spin of a Coin), 1961.    He spun from Raft, when upset over what happened to his Western re-make of Kiss of Death, known variously during shooting as Hell-Bent Kid, Rope Law, Enough Rope Quick Draw... and finally hyped as “Don’t turn your back on the kooky killer with the baby face – The Fiend Who Walked The West.” From Elvis Presley to Steve McQueen, Bob beat everyone to the kind of role “that made Richard Widmark a star overnight   – made me all but an unknown.”
  9. Brett Halsey, Return To Peyton Place, 1961.    Producer Jerry Wald tried again. “No thanks,” said Bob. “You’re on suspension,” said Fox. “What’s worse,” said Bob, “than being in a sequel to a piece of shit?”
  10. Ray Danton, The Chapman Report, 1961.    Produced by the junior  Zanuck, Richard. “Looking at yourself in the mirror. calling a spade a spade, ain’t easy – Evans, you’re not good enough to make it all the way… I was a half-assed actor.”

  11. Ray Danton, The Longest Day, 1961.   Now the senior Zanuck  was talking an interest in Bob again.  Too  late. “I wanted to be the next Darryl Zanuck and I paid the price making the most difficult decision of my life. I gave up the glamour of Hollywood, two firm pictures with Zanuck, a storybook existence and returned to New York City with my child bride, back to Evans-Picone’s showroom on Broadway.”   Not for long…
  12. Robert Redford, The Great Gatsby,   1974.   By now a hotshot producer, Bob offered the role to Warren Beatty – just as  director wannabe Beatty had offered it to Evans, five years earlier. “He’s the only Gatsby I know!” Redford was the third Gatz after Warner Baxter, 1926, and Alan Ladd, 1948. Leonardo DiCaprio was the fourth in 2011 and Brit star Toby Stephens was sixth in a 2000 Granada UK TV production.
  13. Robert De Niro, The Last Tycoon, 1976.   F Scott Fitzgerald based his Monroe Stahr studio chief upon MGM’s house genius,Irving Thalberg. AndEvans, then in women’s clothing with this brother (no comment!), had been chosen by Thalberg’s widow, Norma Shearer, to play her husband in Man Of A Thousand Faces, l957. She then aimed to produce Tycoon with Evans as Stahr.Bob’s screen career was derisively short (seven films) before becomingParamount’s Thalberg, rescuing the company in the 70s as production chief with The Godfather, Love Story, Rosemary’s Baby, etc.On hisown, he produced Black Sunday, Chinatown, Marathon Man, and an enormous flop, The Cotton Club. And still wanted to act. But (like Thalberg, others acted characters based on him: RobertVaughn in SOB, 1981, and Dustin Hoffman in Wag The Dog, 1997. That one had Evans saying: “I’m magnificent in this film!”.
  14. Harvey Keitel, The Two Jakes, 1990.
  15. Christopher Rydell, Blood and Sand, 1989.    THe senior Zanuck announced Bob and Sophia Loren for a third version in 1968. After rash chat about Travolta, the sand remained unbloodied for a further 21 years. Evans’ comment said it all: “Heralded as the next Tyrone Power, the next Valentino, I was in reality becoming the next Troy Donahue.”




 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  15