I came across this information on the Internet some years back and always
intended to write to you all.
"James Bond was almost a woman played by Susan Hayward, filmmakers reveal.
The name was always Bond .... but Britain's top secret agent was almost Jane, not James when 007 first hit the big screen.
Filmmakers have revealed how Hollywood idol Susan Hayward was first choice for the role.
But the plot to give Ian Fleming's suave superspy a sex change was dropped and Sean Connery was cast as the legendary MI6 man.
Lorenzo Semple Jnr. who was hired to write Casino Royale for the big screen said 'frankly we thought that James Bond was kind of unbelievable and, as I recall, even kind of stupid. So we thought the solution was to make Bond a woman, Jane Bond if you will.
There was even a plan to cast Susan Hayward in the role.'
Semple, who also wrote Never Say Never Again for Sir Sean, admits that the Edinburgh born former milkman was ultimately the right choice. He added
'what made Bond work was the fact that Sean Connery wasn't an upper-class David Niven type. That would have been deadly. Sean is working class but has all the required elegance and intelligence. The foundation is rooted in something people could relate to.'
Semple said that Fleming had sold the film rights for his first novel, Casino Royale for just $6,000 (£4000) in 1955 - $218,000 (£140,000) at today's prices.
But producer Gregory Ratoff, who had bought the rights and Semple struggled to turn the book into a believable movie. After a brainstorming session, they hit upon making Bond a woman instead.
Semple said 'Gregory announced one day, 'We'll get Susan Hayward. I dated her when she was a $75. a week actress, so she owes me one!'
But the sultry Oscar-winning actress passed on the role and Sir Sean eventually made the part his instead with Dr. No."
I have never heard of Gregory Ratoff dating Susan as I believe he was married at the time of Adam Had Four Sons!! She was certainly earning more than $75. a week at that point in her career.
I thought this made for interesting reading but have no idea if it was genuine.
That is VERY interesting reading. I had never spotted it previously either.
re your mention " I thought this made for interesting reading but have no idea if it was genuine."
Yes that is the rub I guess. On the one hand, Ratoff was a director and actor of prolific credits and to be taken seriously - but then as you point out, Susan was beyond her $75 a week status by the time of 'Adam had Four Sons'.
But although he ( Ratoff) directed it and she starred - it does not necessarily say that when he dated her, it was during that time ( 1941). For Susan to be on such a token starlet wage, it would have been before that. However, as you point out - he was married at the time, in fact he was married from the ealry 1920's to the late 40's.
In any case - fascinating story - thanks for posting this.
What an amazing thought--Susan as James Bond!! ('Shaken--not Stired'!)
I suddenly have a vision of--remember Diana Rigg? playing 'Emma Peel'. Well, what better part for Susan--dressed in that black suit and always ready to sling some shocked male over her shoulder and send him flying into the furniture!!!!
Now THAT would have been a perfect piece of casting!!!
Anyway! Hello to everyone on the Board. Lynn
and hello to you as well Lynn.
I like the Emma Peel / Susan, mental pictures - lol.
WOW!~~...Trish..this is really an 'eye opener' and a piece of Susan's career that has never surfaced...but at the time of the first James Bond film.."DR. NO"...Susan was not doing as many films in Hollywood and..frankly, if she was asked to do this type of film, I can see her turning it down, since it was a 'big risk' when they did the first film.
I remember when "DR. NO" opened in Hollywood, it was not expected to be 'much of a film'..period. In fact, it's opening was NOT at a A-FILM Hollywood theater. It opened at the PIX theater..at the time..an 'all night theater' on Hollywood Blvd, but off the beaten movie theater path, which always ended at Hollywood and Vine, at the Pantages theater. There were three 'all night theaters'(or two and one regular hours) that continued on a few blocks beyond Hollywood and Vine. The PIX, the WORLD (two all nighters) and THE HAWAIIAN a regular hour theater.
When "DR. NO" opened at (of all places) the PIX, it was considered that this was not going to be a 'big money film' at all. But after the first week's opening all that changed and you saw stars like George Hamilton, Robert Wagner and many others viewing the film at the PIX. (I know this, because I was working at the Pantages at the time and got 'free passes' to go to other theaters all the time and I did see these two stars at the PIX.
AFTER...the first film...every other BOND picture opened at the CHINESE THEATER...Period!! The first installment and all the others were 'instant hits' and ALL A-PICTURES including "DR. NO".
You might like to also know..that THE PIX movie theater was (many years later) changed into a legit live theater and renamed THE HENRY FONDA THEATER. It has since had another 'name change' and is now known as THE FONDA THEATER...(apparently, because of daughter Jane and son Peter).
I think Susan would have looked at this 'first film script' as something 'way, way out there'..and a 'risk taker'...plus she was not making films as often and they became fewer and far between. NO WAY..did a Susan film ever open in Hollywood in a B-all night movie theater..that I do know.
To me..."DR. NO" and "GOLDFINGER" are still my all time favorite Bond films and both were with...SEAN CONNERY...still the best Bond..ever in my opinion.
But...BOY>..do I love this story, Trish....I actually hope it is for real..
An interesting story Errol.
I don't suppose we will ever know if it was true Susan was considered but it does make fascinating reading. Probably just an idea that was tossed around and became part of a Hollywood fable. I first heard of it about eight years ago but didn't copy it down at the time.
Thank you Kerry, Lynn and Errol for your response.
I had never heard this story either, but Susan wuold have made a great Jane Bond!
Did't Ratoff direct Susan in "Beau Gueste" (1939?), also wasn't Susan's son, Greg named after Ratoff?...seems I read that maybe in Beverly Linet's bio of Susan.
" Did't Ratoff direct Susan in "Beau Gueste" (1939?), "
I don't think he did? Would have to check to be sure but I think that was Bill Wellman. However he definitely directed her in 'Adam Had Four Sons'.
" also wasn't Susan's son, Greg named after Ratoff?.."
that one I would have to rely on other's recollections. The concept DOES ring a bell though so I may also have read it somewhere.
Kerry, I think you are right about Wellman. I'll look up the info about Ratoff...thanks
You are correct. My brother was named after Mr. Ratoff...me, no idea...