A good story at RozRussell.com.
Ilka Chase played the role of Sylvia Fowler in the original Broadway production of “The Women” in 1936. She nearly got the role in the film version.
The story goes that when Rosalind fumbled a line, George Cukor calls to an assistant : “See if you can get Ilka Chase to come out and play this scene.”
But Cukor was replaced by Victor Fleming on “Gone With the Wind”. So Roz calls to the same assistant: “Telephone Mr. Fleming and ask when he’s going to take over the picture!”
Roz and Cukor became good friends – Roz credited Cukor with launching her career as a comedienne.
Two of Rosalind’s best movies came one after the other – THE WOMEN and then HIS GIRL FRIDAY. Both demonstrating that from time to time, Hollywood got away from typecasting. Rosalind simply showed she could do comedy as well as drama. Her ‘Sylvia Fowler’ is just hilarious and SO different from anything she had done before at MGM.
Roz did a slew of movies in the 30s and 40s ; and she had AUNTIE MAME and GYPSY in the 50s/60s.
Such a superior cast in THE WOMEN, from Joan Crawford , Norma Shearer, Paulette Goddard , Mary Boland,Marjorie Main.
Another movie one could wish had been in color.( it did have a color sequence.)
I’d love to see the MGM archives regarding Roz’s casting as ‘Sylvia.’ I expect it wasn’t easy for her to get the role.
Roz’s association with My Sister Eileen began in 1942 when the film was released. Then she had great success on Broadway in 1953 in the musical version of the story.
The 1953 musical version of “My Sister Eileen”, with Edie Adams as ‘Eileen.’
Rosalind also did a TV special of the show in 1958, with Jacquelyn McKeever as ‘Eileen’.
And the whole 1958 show is on You Tube.
The musical film version of “My Sister Eileen” (1955) ,with Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh , didn’t use the original Leonard Bernstein / Comden and Green score. ( apparently Columbia weren’t prepared to pay the high price for the rights .) Jule Styne and Leo Robin were commissioned to write a new score but the only hit they gave the film was “Give Me a Band and My Baby.”