Susan Dey

  1. Olivia Newton-John, Grease, 1977.        Looking to TV, Happy Days‘ Henry Winkler and The Partridge Family’s  Dey were producer Allan Carr’s excessively tame first replacements for… Elvis and Ann-Margret! Plus Carrie Fisher, Deborah Raffin. This was before Carr found himself at a dinner party at Helen Reddy’s house, being dazzled by Reddy’s fellow Aussie songthrush, ON-J. She was wary. “Because my music career was going well and I did not want to mess it up by doing another movie that wasn’t good.”  (Her debut, the science-fictionish Tomorrow, 1970, did not last a second day in most cinemas). Kleiser was not so keen. ON-J was too nice.  “How is she going to become this slut?” At 29, it was more like how is she gonna play the virgin?! Co-star John Travolta (naturally) agreed with Carr. She was the one! John Farrar, ON-J’s frequent songwriter, wrote her two new songs – one being shot after the wrap!
  2. Jessica Lange, Frances, 1982.      Howard Hawks said she always seemed to be shining. “More talent than anyone I ever worked with.” She and Vivien Leigh were beaten by Ingrid Bergman to For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1942. She’s the subject of various books, plays (viz Sally Clarke’s Saint Frances of Hollywood), pop and rock songs – French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer even took her name. All actresses loved her talent and guts (when wrongfully committed to asylums by her parents) and 23 wanted to be… Frances Farmer. From the sublime to the ridiculous: Meryl Streep, to Susan Dey of TV’s Partridge Family. Kim Basinger tested with Sam Shepard (Lange’s husband). Undaunted Susan Blakely made her own 1983 TVersion (from Farmer’s book, Will There Really Be A Morning?). Plus Anne Archer, Ann-Margret, Blythe Danner, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Glenda Jackson, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Michelle Phillips, Katharine Ross, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood.
  3. Meg Ryan, When Harry Met Sally, 1989.   Tom Hanks was Harry and director Rob Reiner juggled various Sallies. His first choice Susan Dey, from TV’s Partridge Family.  She virtually ended her movie career by rejecting the role. Rob next looked at both Elizabeths (Perkins and McGovern) and was thisclose to signing Molly Ringwald when t’other MR nailed it!   Meg and Hanks next made another hit, Sleepless in Seattle., 1992. But after a bunch of near-misses, Inner Space, Promised Land, Rom Com Queen, DOA, The Presido, plus her image-destroying Proof of Love affair with Russell; Crowe she was toast.  Playing unmemorable mothers of Colin Hanks here and Kristen Stewart there.


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