g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

Bored? Games!
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

Natural Living
Folklore and Mythology
Distance Learning

All times in EST

Low Carb: 8:00 PM

Full Schedule
g Classic Film Site

BellaOnline's Classic Film Editor


Their Disastrous First Screen Tests

Guest Author - Amber Grey

Not all stars were welcomed into Hollywood at first. Some stars who have entertained us experienced almost disastrous results when it came to screen-testing their talents for the studios that would make them into stars.

In 1937, a thirty-three year old vaudevillian performer did a screen test for RKO Pictures. The studio response wase: “Can’t sing. Can’t Act. Balding. Also dances.” It is reported that the associate producer of MGM Studios, Johnny Considine remarked, “You can get dancers like this for $75 dollars a week!” Nevertheless, the dancer would be signed with RKO Pictures by David O. Selznick, and the rest is history. The performer was legendary dancer, Fred Astaire. His screen test may be lost forever, but he proved many wrong with the success he attained.

“The custom then was to use flat lighting — to throw a great deal of light from all directions, in order to kill all shadows that might be caused by wrinkles or blemishes. But the strong lights placed on either side of my face made my blue eyes look almost white, and by nearly eliminating my nose, made me seem cross-eyed. The result was hideous.” This is how actress Norma Shearer described her first screen test. The screen test was so poor it necessitated another be made. The second one was a bit more favorable. Shearer was cast in the lead role as “Myra Hastings in “The Wanters” (1923). Director John M. Stahl, however, did not see her in the leading role. Stahl wanted Marie Prevost instead. Shearer was finally cast as the supporting character of “Marjorie.” And her career steadily grew from there.

At the tender age of twenty-two, an aspiring actress, named Ruth Elizabeth “Bette” Davis, came to Hollywood by train in hopes of a career. There was supposed be a representative from Universal Pictures to meet her. But when she stepped down from the train, no one was there. Apparently, the studio representative had left, claiming no one who disembarked from the train looked like a movie star. Bette Davis arrived at Universal Pictures anyway and did a screen test. She was present at the viewing of it and thought it was so bad she screamed and ran out of the projection room. Universal Pictures did not like the screen test either but used her to help screen test other actors. In an interview with Dick Cavett, Davis recalled being the female stand-in for up-and-coming male actors who would kiss her for their screen test. The screen test process would be one of the many struggles Davis would have to overcome in her career. No wonder she was called “The First Lady of Film.” "If Hollywood didn’t work out, I was prepared to be the best secretary in the world,” Davis once commented.

Certainly, these stories, and many others, are a testament to the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
This site needs an editor - click to learn more!

Add Their+Disastrous+First+Screen+Tests to Twitter Add Their+Disastrous+First+Screen+Tests to Facebook Add Their+Disastrous+First+Screen+Tests to MySpace Add Their+Disastrous+First+Screen+Tests to Digg Their+Disastrous+First+Screen+Tests Add Their+Disastrous+First+Screen+Tests to Yahoo My Web Add Their+Disastrous+First+Screen+Tests to Google Bookmarks Add Their+Disastrous+First+Screen+Tests to Stumbleupon Add Their+Disastrous+First+Screen+Tests to Reddit

Bette Davis VS Joan Crawford
Fred Astaire and His Dancing Partners
Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Classic Film Newsletter

Past Issues

Printer Friendly
tell friend
Tell a Friend
Email Editor

Content copyright © 2018 by Amber Grey. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Amber Grey. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


g features
Archives | Site Map


Past Issues

Note: BellaOnline uses cookies to help provide a consistent user experience. Our advertisers may use cookies to help customize ads. Please contact us with any question about our cookie use.

Summertime Foods
Corn on the Cob
Burgers on the Grill
Apple Pie


| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2018 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.

BellaOnline Editor