Click here to read my friend Stephen Bowie’s gret new Blog about casting director Marion Dougherty.

One of my favorite parts of interviewing actors is asking them about roles that they turned down or were up for that they didn’t get.   Some rumors reportedly in print were debunked from my asking. For instance, book after book about Bonnie and Clyde reports that Carol Lynley was a top contender for the role. If she was, it was news to Carol. She told me she never spoke to Warren Beatty about the part nor did she ever see a script. Doing research for my book Dueling Harlows, I can across a small item from about 1967 where Beatty is quoted that he saw Carol in Harlow and thought she had the perfect thirties look for Bonnie. That one statement seems to have catapulted Carol to frontrunner status for the part…in the mind of the press only.

Here are some interesting tidbits.

Roman Polanski cast Deanna Lund right on the spot to play Rosemary’s ill-fated neighbor in Rosemary’s Baby. She was elated even though she had just signed with Irwin Allen to play intergalactic castaway Valerie Scott in TV’s Land of the Giants. Polanski promised that her scenes would be completed in time for her to begin the series. Allen balked and made such a big fuss over it the actress had to sheepishly turn it down to Polanski’s ire. Victoria Vetri stepped in for her.

Tina Louise turned down a starring role opposite Cary Grant in Operation Petticoat because she didn’t like the boob jokes. Joan O’Brien happily took her place and the screenplay was Oscar nominated boob jokes and all.

A number of my favorite 60s starlets were on producer Larry Turman’s short list to play Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine in The Graduate including Sue Lyon, Yvette Mimieux, Carol Lynley and Pamela Tiffin. Alas he went with Katherine Ross never a favorite of mine.

Lisa Seagram was all set to star opposite Stephen Boyd in Fantastic Voyage at Fox when the part was stolen out from under her by Raquel Welch. She wouldn’t share details.

Catherine Denueve was first choice to star opposite James Coburn in In Like Flint but director Gordon Douglas had his mind set on American starlet Jean Hale. After jumping through hoops for Fox head Richard Zanuck, Hale landed the role and a contract with the studio.

Sharon Tate squeaked through to land the role of ill-fated Jennifer in Valley of the Dolls over Karen Jensen after both Raquel Welch and Jean Hale turned it down.

AIP wanted Fabian for Beach Party but he was under contract to Fox and the studio would not lend him out. Bobby Vinton campaigned vigorously for the part, but AIP chose Frankie Avalon instead. Wise move.

Deborah Walley was set to reprise her role as Gidget in Gidget Goes to Rome but she got knocked up. Laurel Goodwin, who had just co-starred with Elvis in Girls! Girls! Girls!, got the part, lost the part, got the part again, and finally lost it for good (at 5’7″ she was deemed too tall). TV actress Carol Sydes was cast instead and was re-christened Cindy Carol.



Comments: 5

Leave a reply »

  • Bob

    Oh yeah. I saw Carol Sydes on a ‘Leave It to Beaver’ ep and thought she looked familiar. It was Cindy Carol from ‘Gidget Goes to Rome.’

    • She was also a regular on the short-lived TV series The New Loretta Young Show with those studly Rambo brothers, Dack and Dirk.

  • Michael H

    Love reading these casting tidbits.

    Do you know what prompted Mike Nichols to cast Ross over Lynley, Tiffen and Mimieux? Was it because she was relatively unknown at the time?

    Lisa Seagram was a knockout so it’s easy to understand why she was initially cast in FV. Dick Zanuck must have seen something in Raquel that caused him to give her the role and cast her in One Million BC. I’d read that Albert Broccoli wanted Raquel for the Domino role in Thunderball and 20th signed her to a seven picture deal to keep her. So maybe the studio was looking for some return on their investment by giving the part to Welch.

    • According to the book Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood, actress Simone Signoret worked with Ross in a movie called Games and recommended her to director Mike Nochols. He liked the chemistry between her when she read with Dustin Hoffman.

  • John Black

    Interesting, because most of us saw GAMES well after THE GRADUATE had hit big. In fact, GAMES never played Seattle (my home town) theatrically.

  • Leave a Reply
    Your gravatar
    Your Name