What Might Have Been in Hollywood

Ross HawkinsA&E, FilmLeave a Comment

Cary Grant

Cary Grant wanted to play Roger Byam in MGM’s “Mutiny on the Bounty.”

Under contract to Paramount Pictures at the time, Grant could not win his release for the role. He learned, however, from that experience. When his contract was up in 1937, Grant never again signed a long-term contract with a major studio. The role of Byam went to Franchot Tone…

Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s first major role was in a Western with Will Rogers. Fairbanks confided in me that he was offered the role of Robin Hood in the 1938 Warner Bros. picture.  He turned it down because the silent version was his father’s most famous role. According to Fairbanks, James Cagney also was offered the role. (A curious choice?) Fairbanks was considered for the role of Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind” (“for all of 15 seconds”). He and Cary Grant flipped a coin to decide what parts they would play in “Gunga Din”

John Ford and David O. Selznick locked horns over the casting of the Ringo Kid in “Stagecoach.” Selznick wanted Gary Cooper. Ford stubbornly held out for John Wayne. At 2 in the morning, Ford left Selznick and got Walter Wanger to produce the film. Wanger tried briefly to talk Ford into offering the role to Joel McCrea. However, Ford still insisted on Wayne for the lead role…

Edward Ashley, under contract to MGM in the 1940s, was featured in “Pride and Prejudice” with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson and in “Bittersweet” with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Ashley told me about screen testing with Ingrid Bergman for her role in “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.”  “Ingrid had a flawless complexion, and she didn’t need makeup. She was 5-foot-11 in her stocking feet. So a couple of her co-stars had to rely on the old apple box for scenes they had together”…

Bette Davis wanted to play Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind” but objected to Warner Bros. choice of Errol Flynn to play Rhett Butler.

Clark Gable did not want to play Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind.” He changed his mind, though, when he needed the money to divorce his second wife, Maria Langham so that he could marry Carole Lombard…

Errol Flynn turned down the lead role in “King Solomon’s Mines,” and was replaced by Stewart Granger. This put an end to Flynn’s stature as a Hollywood leading man…

Laurence Olivier wanted his wife Vivien Leigh to play opposite him in “Rebecca” instead of Joan Fontaine, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in that film…

These are a few of stories you will see in my production of “Fred Parrish — The Man Behind the Camera” later this year. Parrish made documentaries at 20th Century Fox and was a still photographer at RKO and David O. Selznick Productions. For “Gone With the Wind,” Parrish shot 10,000 stills, which Selznick let him keep…

Mr. Hawkins, Hollywood historian/journalist, may be contacted at rjhculvercity@aol.com

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