We have all heard about 'the final star' from the film "ALL ABOUT EVE" passing away..that star being CELESTE HOLM. So I decided to pull out a book I had bought a few years ago, called.."ALL ABOUT 'ALL ABOUT EVE'" (by Sam Staggs in 2000). It is all about the rough times of casting the film and the rougher times while filming and quite a...read!!!
This film would probably 'not' have been the huge hit it was, had it been cast with the first/original stars and even that changed, a lot, before the final casting was done.
The first choice for the BETTE DAVIS role, I had known about..and that was suppose to be CLAUDETTE COLBERT, but she broke her back. It was then that Joseph L. Mankiewicz said...'no problem'...THEY had SUSAN HAYWARD who would be 'perfect' for the role of Margo Channing and had just become a big 'money maker' for her role in "HOUSE OF STRANGERS". But others involved did not agree and thought they should get MARLENE DIETRICH...(but that didn't work..because when they had Dietrich read the line.."Fasten your seat belt..it's going to be a bumpy night"..Joseph went 'nuts'..saying it took 'forever' for her to "drag that line out". Soo..Dietrich was 'out' and so was SUSAN! He had re-thought the whole thing and realized that Susan was only 32 at the time and too young for the role since Margo was suppose to be in her 40's..(which is just what BETTE DAVIS happend to be)..so Bette wound up with that role!
BUT OTHER CASTINGS ALSO CHANGED FROM THE BEGINNING.
JEANNE CRAIN (another Fox-contract star, like Susan, was the first choice for EVE HARRINGTON in the film. Jeanne became pregnant, so the role went to ANNE BAXTER.
THE VERY SMALL ROLE..that was finally done by MARILYN MONROE was originally (another Fox-contract player) to be SHEREE NORTH...BUT...ZSA ZSA GABOR, who was married to GEORGE SANDERS who plays Madison DeWitt in the film...wanted that 'small role'...desperately and was driving Sanders crazy, with her 'demands' that he 'get her cast' into that role! He finally told her to listen to herself..'TALK'..."You're accent, alone, should tell you that you are wrong and will NEVER get that role!" He was right...but they dropped NORTH from the role after another film, with her, was coming out the same year..(1950). That film was "THE ASPHALT JUNGLE."
I am going to end this post now and do another post to show you just how many 'top stars' were up for the different roles for this film. I think you will find it very interesting.
Susan may have been too young to play Margo,but not too old to play Eve. Anne Baxter was several years younger then Susan but not by much and she (Anne)
didn't look like a kid. I think Susan would have made a terrific Eve.
Elaine...I totally agree with you. WHY did they not even consider Susan..as Eve? Yes, she would have been the right age and had the 'right, cunning' acting ability to do a great job as the younger star, trying to replace the older star.
According to the book, 'the only two' who were 'iron-cast' from the beginning..were Celeste Holm and Hugh Marlowe. That casting, apparently, never changed from the beginning, although 'other star names' were put on 'the list' of 'maybes'.
I do think that the EVE role would have been a 'big one' for Susan..and 'why' she would be overlooked and pushed for the MARGO role is a mystery. I think it was because Susan had just made 'big noise' in "HOUSE OF STRANGERS" and he was only looking for 'her' to be in the biggest role in the film. Then..in the end, he decided she was too young for Margo (of course she was) and therefore, was taken 'off any other roles' in the film.
A bad move..in my opinion (an apparently, yours too).