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Wayne Morris (1914-1959)

  1. William Holden, Golden Boy, 1938.      There was a tussle over the rights to Clifford Odets’ play. And the vulgarian Columbia czar Harry Cohn won and immediately wanted John Garfield as the boxer Joe Bonaparte. While the supposedly more polished Jack Warner could only see the play as a kind of sequel to Morris’ surprise 1937 hit as boxer hit Kid Galahad. (Elvis re-made it - kinda! - in 1962.
  2. Burt Lancaster, The Killers, 1946.    Warners’ producer Mark Hellinger had hung up his shingle at Universal and Warners wished him well by refusing to loan him Wayne. Forcing Mark to make his mark by gambling  on the unknown Burt, when Morris as the perfect choice as the ex-boxer as he had first made his name as another boxer in 1937: Kid Galahad.. "So help me, may all my actors be acrobats!"  That was  Hellinger yelling with delight at the first rushes of the first movie of the ex-acrobat from Union City. New Jersey… Burt had top- billing from the word go - with a non-stop 85 more screen roles in front of him, until 1991.  His rivals  for the Richard Brooks-John Huston script of Ernest Hemingway’s hero - Ole “Swede” Andreson – were Wayne Morris (the 1936 Kid Galahad) and Sonny Tufts. (Sonny Tufts??!).


 





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