In this fascinating book just out , James Bawden and Ron Miller have brought together a compendium of 40  interviews they did in the 1970s and 80s, with classic era  stars. So many names – Jane Russell, Yvonne de Carlo, Jack Elam, Ernest Borgnine, Joan Leslie, Jane Wyatt, Esther Williams,Cornel Wilde…..

Just a few examples below. It really is a book you can’t put down. Who knew that Fred Astaire was supposed to direct ‘Up In  Central Park’, or that Bette Davis wanted to do ‘The African Queen’ – or that John Carradine sang in musicals!

HENRY FONDA:  “I got the role of a lifetime,the lead in ‘Mr Roberts.’ We opened in February 1948 and I never wanted to leave it….I did over 1000 performances.”

Henry Fonda


BETTE DAVIS:    “I was going to star in ‘The African Queen’ opposite John Mills for a British company. Then finances fell through. John Huston brought the property…..”

                                “If you hire me, you get 40 years of professionalism, a few Oscars and a link both to the past and present.”

Bette Davis


JAMES STEWART:     “I wasn’t the first choice for ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – both Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur turned Frank Capra down.”

James Stewart


JANET LEIGH:    “My first day on set for ‘That Forsyte Woman’,  I got a handwritten note from Greer Garson welcoming me on board. What a gracious lady.”

Greer Garson, Janet Leigh


James Bawden asked PATRICIA NEAL, “Would you indulge me by saying the famous line from ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still.”

Patrica Neal:   “Alright.    Gort, Klaatu, Barada, Nickto.”

Patricia Neal, Michael Rennie.


WALTER PIDGEON: On his longevity in Hollywood,   “Maybe it was better never to become red hot….maybe a long glow is the best way.”

Walter Pidgeon


JOHN HOUSEMAN made his acting debut in ‘Seven Days In May.’

I played a small part of a treasonous admiral. I worked for half a day and that was it. I didn’t do it again for 10 years.”

(Among the many films Houseman produced were  Executive Suite, Lust For Life, The Bad and the Beautiful and The Blue Dahlia.)

John Houseman


In 1974, James Bawden, on a trip to Los Angeles, found a listed phone number for Anne Shirley Lederer (ANNE SHIRLEY was married to the writer Charles Lederer.) He called her up and got a two hour interview in person.

Anne mentioned how she replaced Olivia de Havilland in ‘Saturday’s Children’ at one day’s notice.  “The clothes fit perfectly.!”


JOHN CARRADINE mentioned that he was a singer.

I’ve done Paint Your Wagon on stage several times and I had more songs than the lead actor.”

John Carradine


VINCENT PRICE:    I was Boss Tweed in the Deanna Durbin musical, ‘Up In Central Park ‘. at  Universal. I took the part because Fred Astaire was going to direct, but he quit on the opening day of filming.”

Vincent Price


RAYMOND MASSEY loved doing westerns  –  “It got me out of the backlot and into the outdoors.” He called Humphrey Bogart “the best movie actor of all time“, and he still enjoyed  watching ‘Arsenic and Old Lace ‘ on television.

Cary Grant, Raymond Massey.

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