Tammy Grimes and Debbie Reynolds as Molly Brown


Dan Kappes

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Tammy Grimes originally played Molly Brown in the 1960 Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, but when the film adaptation was released in 1964, she was replaced by Debbie Reynolds.

Did Tammy Grimes not want to star in the film, or did the film studio want someone else to play Molly?

The only actor kept from the stage musical is Harve Presnell who plays Mr. Brown.

Do stage actors often star in films based on the plays they performed in?

Interestingly, Grimes and Reynolds both died in late 2016, a few months apart.
 
May 3, 2005
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It may be a bit off topic, and this is just my opinion. of actresses playing the role of Mrs. J.J. "Margaret / Maggie " Brown. LOL

BTW it is just " Molly " on the stage and on the screen. LOL

(1) The Best : Kathy Bates ("Titanic" - 1997 )
(2) The Worst : Tucker Maguire ( "A Night To Remember - 1958 )

Incidentally , I have a copy of a DVD of the 1929 movie ''Atlantic'' , based (very !) loosely on the Titanic tragedy.

In the 1997 movie ''Titanic'' , the actor Bernard Hill portrays Captain Edward J. Smith of the Titanic .
In an Audio track on the ''Atlantic '' DVD (No Video) of the U.S Senate Inquiry proceedings , Bernard Hill portrays Captain Stanley Lord of the Californian.
 
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Eric Paddon

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Tammy Grimes didn't do the movie "Unsinkable Molly Brown" because she wasn't a bankable film star and in those days that mattered more to studio executives. Her entire career up to that point had come almost exclusively from the NY stage. Her getting bypassed for the film just put her in the company of many others who originated roles in hit Broadway musicals and plays in the 1950s and 60s and found themselves cast aside for the big screen because they weren't considered "box office" (the ultimate example of this being when Julie Andrews didn't get the movie version of "My Fair Lady"). Debbie Reynolds at this point was a bona fide "film star" with musical experience and thus considered better box office. Generally, if you were in a secondary or supporting role in the stage version, you ended up standing a better chance of doing the movie as was the case with Harve Presnell as "Johnny" Brown, since that way those who had seen the show on stage would be seeing some familiar names.

While Tammy didn't get the film version, her fame from doing the show on stage did open the door for things like top-billed guest shots on TV shows of the day. She was even originally offered the lead in what became "Bewitched" but turned it down (and when she did go with her own show "The Tammy Grimes Show" in 1966 it was so bad and reviled it was one of the earliest examples of a show cancelled after just a few episodes aired. In those days if you had a 13 week commitment, you stayed on the air until all the episodes aired!)
 
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Dan Kappes

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According to the Wikipedia article of the 1964 film:
Harve Presnell was the sole member of the original Broadway cast who was invited to reprise his stage role in the film. Although Tammy Grimes had originated the title role and had won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance, MGM executives wanted Shirley MacLaine for the film. After she signed, producer Hal Wallis claimed she was under contract to him, and MacLaine was forced to withdraw from the project. When Debbie Reynolds was cast instead, MacLaine publicly accused her of agreeing to accept a lower salary in order to land the role, and director Charles Walters, who preferred MacLaine, tried to persuade Reynolds to turn down the part.
 

Eric Paddon

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Shirley MacLaine, while she was arguably more of a star on the way up at that point, would have been totally wrong for the part IMO. Way too much the pixie type whereas Grimes and Reynolds could at least capture the earthiness required of the part.

A little OT but I really don't want to start a separate thread to it, I've discovered that more than twenty years before she played the role in "SOS Titanic", Cloris Leachman played Maggie Brown in a short 11 minute segment of an obscure program called "Telephone Time".

 
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Arun Vajpey

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Harve Presnell as "Johnny" Brown
I vaguely recall some older "cousins" discussing the film when it first came out. (I was 9 years old at the time and did not see it till 3 years later in the second run). I recall some talk about James Coburn being considered for the Johnny Brown role.....not sure if it was just a review opinion or something.. Does anyone know if there is truth in that?
 
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Hi, new to this site. I am trying to do some genealogy work and distant cousins of mine brothers John and Thomas Keating were supposed to take the Titanic. However, according to story their mother had a dream the night before they were to sail and they ended up taking the R.M.S Celtic to New York instead. Is there any way I can confirm they may have had a ticket for Titanic? .... again it could be all here say!
 
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Hi, new to this site. I am trying to do some genealogy work and distant cousins of mine brothers John and Thomas Keating were supposed to take the Titanic. However, according to story their mother had a dream the night before they were to sail and they ended up taking the R.M.S Celtic to New York instead. Is there any way I can confirm they may have had a ticket for Titanic? .... again it could be all here say!

Please don't consider this as to be in any insulting way, but there have been many such stories of persons who were said to have cancelled their voyage on Titanic........so it could all be hear-say . If anyone has the answer to your question , this website is the place for it. I am not one of the experts, so I am afraid I wouldn't be of much help. I don't know if ship companies kept lists of reservations and /or cancellations or even if there would be a way to find them today.

Years ago I had planned a trip to Great Britain and planned to go on RMS Queen Mary.
I had even made a reservation and had a Second Class Cabin assignment confirmation - C-119.
However, I changed plans and cancelled my reservation several months in advance with no problems.

Just a post-script on this. Years later I happened to be in New York on a vacation trip .
RMS Queen Mary was in Port and open to visitors.
I took advantage of touring the ship and looking at Cabin C-119 .
Having seen that Cabin, I was very much disappointed in how it looked and was glad I had cancelled. LOL.
I don't know if Cunard had any records of confirmed reservations and cancellations.
 
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Shirley MacLaine, while she was arguably more of a star on the way up at that point, would have been totally wrong for the part IMO. Way too much the pixie type whereas Grimes and Reynolds could at least capture the earthiness required of the part.

A little OT but I really don't want to start a separate thread to it, I've discovered that more than twenty years before she played the role in "SOS Titanic", Cloris Leachman played Maggie Brown in a short 11 minute segment of an obscure program called "Telephone Time".


Just a little nit-pick on that clip from "Telephone Time".
Titanic was not out to break any speed records , much less The Blue Riband.
I think the question was if Titanic would better sister ship Olympic's record for the crossing ?

Thanks for the segment. I don't remember seeing any "Telephone Times."
 
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Eric Paddon

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Per Wiki, it says that "Telephone Time" was an anthology series that aired first on CBS and then ABC from 1956 to 1958. Apparently this segment aired February 24, 1957 and I suspect it was commissioned due to the success of the live adaptation of "A Night To Remember" that had aired on "Kraft Television Theatre" the previous year to great acclaim (Maggie Brown had not been depicted in that production).
 

Dave Gittins

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I hope Bell gave credit to the German movie. At least some shots are taken from it. Note the German on the engine telegraph (one of the German clangers).
 

Bo Bowman

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Eric Paddon, thank you for sharing that 1957 film clip! I enjoyed it, plus I now know the hidden secret to Titanic's demise. The engine order telegraph (or EOT) had commands in German! No wonder there was confusion on the bridge! o_O
 
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Just a little nit-pick on that clip from "Telephone Time".
Titanic was not out to break any speed records , much less The Blue Riband.
I think the question was if Titanic would better sister ship Olympic's record for the crossing ?

Thanks for the segment. I don't remember seeing any "Telephone Times."
Also......Titanic had a searchlight !

I don't remember any "Telephone Times" either and I watched a lot of TV in 1957.
At least several scenes seem to be from the 1943 German "Titanic".
They might have gotten the idea for the "out to break speed records" from that movie ?
I hadn't realized that it had been "discovered" in 1957.

"A Night To Remember" as a movie didn't come out until 1958.
The Stanwyck-Webb "Titanic" was 1953.
Could it have been due from the success of that movie ?

Was this on national TV ? What network ? What days and times was this program on ?
I have a bit of a problems since the libraries are closed, but most libraries have old newspapers on microfilm.and if you knew the date and times you might find this program on the TV schedule in the newspaper for that date and time of the progran
 
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May 3, 2005
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Eric Paddon, thank you for sharing that 1957 film clip! I enjoyed it, plus I now know the hidden secret to Titanic's demise. The engine order telegraph (or EOT) had commands in German! No wonder there was confusion on the bridge! o_O
My thanks also to Eric Paddon

Bo-
I don't know if you have seen the movie from where the clip showing the engine order telegraph came from , but Bruce Ismay, the Captain and all the rest could speak perfect German in that movie ! ;-)
 

Eric Paddon

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"A total of 81 episodes aired from April 1956 to March 1957 on CBS, and from April 1957 to April 1958 on ABC."

This particular installment aired February 24, 1957. In New York and Eastern time zones it aired at 6 PM in a Sunday evening time slot meaning it was not in what we would call a "prime time" slot but networks controlled more time on the schedule in those days which meant there were a lot more of these kind of anthology programs back then. The time slots I'm sure varied over the rest of its run and when it was on different networks.

Here are newspaper clippings promoting the broadcast.
 

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Bo Bowman

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Robert,

I've been aware of the Titanic all my life, but am new to the high-intensity nerdiness of this site. I am loving it, however. I have now learned of all these movies - some well-known, others quite obscure - and can't wait to see them all. It seems every time I open this site, I learn something new. So, where does one find that German movie?
 
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Robert,

I've been aware of the Titanic all my life, but am new to the high-intensity nerdiness of this site. I am loving it, however. I have now learned of all these movies - some well-known, others quite obscure - and can't wait to see them all. It seems every time I open this site, I learn something new. So, where does one find that German movie?
I found it by just searching on "Titanic 1943".
Incidentally the part of Ismay is portrayed by Ernst Fritz Furbringer....without the mustache !
I see from a previous post it is available on DVD.
In case you are not familiar this movie, it was intended as a propaganda film made by the Germans in 1943
to show just how greedy and evil those British and Americans were.....Including John Jacob Astor, also featured in the movie. There is also a story that Goebbels cancelled the showing of the movie in Germany for fear it would've been seen in a different way with sympathy for those who died in the sinking....or so I have read ?
 

Bo Bowman

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Eric and Robert, thank you both. I fully expected this to be an interesting twist on reality, based on its date, but I am also a WWII history nerd so will make extra popcorn for this one. You each get a gold star for your assistance with this!
 
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Thanks, Bo-
But you really have to see "Titanic" (1943) in all its entirety. I'm not going to put in any more spoilers. You really just have to see it to believe it ! I share your nerdness in history also .LOL
There are also some stories about the making of the movie itself. They said the theater where the premiere of the movie was to be shown was destroyed in a bombing raid.
Be interesting to hear your thoughts on the 1943 German version of a movie titled "Titanic". ???
 
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