1. - Martha Mansfield, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1920. Bankhead was the first choice for Millicent opposite the duality of John Barrymore
2. - Joan Crawford, Rain, 1931. Sadie Thompson was all hers until rotten reviews for re-vamping Pola Negri's The Cheat. Rain did not rate any better.
3. - Jean Harlow, Red Dust, 1932. LB Mayer asked her to take over if Harlow collapsed and could not continue following her husband Paul Bern’s bizarre suicide, two months and three days after their wedding. Although Harlow was absent for 10 days (with scenes shot around her and later, her scenes re-shot, with higher neck-lines), the movie was completed on schedule and made her a superstar. Bern had kept his word.
4. - Marlene Dietrich, The Song of Songs, 1933. Rushed into production as last film under Dietrich’s Paramount contract - and her first in Hollywood minus Josef von Sternberg as pilot. “Jo, Jo, why hast thou forsaken me?”
5. - Carole Lombard, Twentieth Century, 1934. “I turned down a lot, dahling. I can't go into all those sordid details.” (She usually did - about her AC DC lovers).
6. - Florence Eldridge, Mary of Scotland, 1936. Director John Ford, who was never interested in the film and even handed direction over to his star (and lover), Katharine Hepburn, once or twice, wanted Bankhead as Queen Elizabeth I. Ginger Rogers actually tested (!) and then, his other star, Fredric March, mentioned his wife.
7. - Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
8. - Linda Darnell, Blood and Sand, 1941. The ’33 plan had been Cary Grant as the matador, Bankhead as the lady.
9. - Bette Davis, The Little Foxes, 1941. Having paid Warners $150,000 for Davis, producer Samuel Goldwyn was worried when she and her ex-lover, director William Wyler, constantly argued. The usual replacements were considered (Bankhead, Miriam Hopkins), until Sam ordered Wyler to shoot around Davis for three weeks to conserve her health. Bankhead said Bette was a hag: “When I get hold of her, I.ll tear every hair out of her moustache.”
10 - Joan Bennett, The Woman in the Window, 1944. She preferred a year off, waiting for director Ernst Lubitsch to complete writing Catherine The Great for her in A Royal Scandal.
11 - Merle Oberon, A Song To Remember, 1945. For George Sand opposite Cornel Wilde's Chopin! She was still waiting on Lubitsch. Three months became eight and it was Otto Preminger who helmed Scandal after Lubitsch’s heart attack.
12 - Marlene Dietrich, Stage Fright, 1949. For the second of his first two UK films in a decade, Alfred Hitchcock wanted Tallulah as a suspected murderer. Warner Bros insisted on La Dietrich. (She said that her co-star Jane Wyman “looks like a mystery nobody has bothered to solve.") Hitch bought the book when critics said it would make a good Hitchcock movie. It didn’t.
13 - Gertrude Lawrence, The Glass Menagerie, 1953. Director Irving Rapper had “never seen a star behave in this fashion,” ran Harry Mayer's New York memo to Hollywood about Bankhead’s “disgraceful state” while testing with Ralph Meeker in August 1949. Matching anything Tennessee Williams could write, she'd controlled her boozing for two days, then became "quite difficult" in the final test. She fed Meeker his lines rather than appearing with him, "drank quite a lot more and... made it almost impossible to get the few feet of film that we were so anxious to secure.” (Neither one was in the final film).
14 - Joan Fontaine, Serenade, 1956. The role of Mario Lanza's high society “protector” was originally written for a man.
15 - Lila Kedrova, Zorba The Greek, 1965.