Day Three of Noirvember: Laura Trivia

In love with a woman he’d never met.

One of my many favorite noirs is 20th Century-Fox’s Laura (1944), which focuses on the efforts of police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) to find the killer of the title character, played by Gene Tierney. Among those questioned in the investigation are notoriously acerbic newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), Laura’s charming but sybaritic boyfriend, Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), and Laura’s aunt (Judith Anderson), who not-so-secretly wants Shelby for herself. As he delves deeper into Laura’s life, McPherson finds that he’s falling in love with the dead girl – only to discover that she’s not dead after all.

Today’s Noirvember post offers some trivia tidbits about the production of this first-rate feature and the actors and actresses who starred in it. Enjoy!

Darryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century-Fox, reportedly wanted Jennifer Jones to play the part Laura, Laird Cregar for Waldo Lydecker and John Hodiak for Mark McPherson. In August 1943, the Los Angeles Times reported that Eva Gabor would play Laura, and it’s said that Rosalind Russell was offered the title role, but turned it down because she felt it was too small. Director Otto Preminger, conversely, wanted Tierney, Webb, and Andrews to play the principal roles. Obviously, he got his way.

Webb and Tierney were birthday twins!

Both Gene Tierney and Clifton Webb were born on November 19th. Tierney, Anderson, Andrews, and Price all died within three years of each other, between November 1991 and October 1993.

When Gene Tierney signed with 20th Century-Fox, her father established a family-owned corporation, Belle-Tier, which contractually owned the majority of her income. When Tierney later drew up a new contract with Fox that no longer assigned a part of her salary to Belle-Tier, her father responded by suing the actress for $50,000 and charging her with breach of contract. (Tierney ultimately won the suit, and only then learned that her father had been stealing from the company.

Gene Tierney dated future president John F. Kennedy during the 1940s, and Kennedy reportedly wanted to marry her. But according to Laura director, Otto Preminger, Kennedy’s family disapproved of Tierney and the relationship ended after a few months.

Dame Judith Anderson was born in Australia.

Born in Australia, Judith Anderson began her acting career there before moving to New York in 1918. She was awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1960 for her services to the performing arts, becoming Dame Judith Anderson.

Vincent Price had a passion for art – he edited or wrote several volumes on art, and also served as a member of numerous art-related organizations, including the art council of the University of California at Los Angeles and the Fine Arts Committee of the White House. He even demonstrated his vast art knowledge on the popular quiz show The 64,000 Question. He also wrote, with his wife, Mary, three books on cooking.

For many years, Dana Andrews struggled with alcoholism. Beginning in the mid-1940s, he was involved in a series of incidents that illustrated this growing problem. In October 1945, he was arrested after he was caught throwing rocks at the window of a police officer’s home. During the years that followed, he was arrested for drunk driving more than once, and in 1955, newspapers reported that he’d lacerated two of his fingers when he “accidentally” broke a window in a bar that wasn’t yet open. After a few decades, Andrews was able to stop drinking, joined the Advisory Board of the Alcoholism Council of Greater Los Angeles, and became a spokesperson against the dangers of drunk driving as well as an advocate for those who suffered from the disease of alcoholism.

Webb and his beloved mother, Mabelle.

Clifton Webb was born Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck. For most of his life, he lived with his mother, Mabelle, until her death at the age of 90. During Webb’s Hollywood heyday, Mabelle accompanied her son to parties and premieres, was frequently included in Webb’s interviews, and co-hosted Webb’s lavish parties in their Beverly Hills home. The two were once labeled “the closest mother-and-son act in show business.”

Join me tomorrow for Day 4 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 4, 2018.

10 Responses to “Day Three of Noirvember: Laura Trivia”

  1. Preminger not the original director, just producer. Punishment from Zanuck. Once he got the gig, he fired Laird Cregar as Waldo. And redid the portrait.

  2. Thanks for the back story on LAURA. Laird Cregar would had been an interesting choice as Waldo. Cregar had played Sheridan Whiteside in the play THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER.And of course was brillant in I WAKE UP SCREAMING.I can imagine him doing a blend to portray Waldo.Died in Dec.1944 of heart attack attributed to crazy diets to lose weight to play leading man.A real shame that such talent was prejudiced against by his weight.

  3. Cregar certainly fits Vera Caspary’s description of Waldo and I’ve no doubt who could have carried off the pithy lines in fine fashion, but it is so nice to have Webb make such a splash in the movies with this role.

  4. Eva Gabor as Laura….I just don’t know about that!

  5. The primary reason the Kennedy family disapproved of Ms. Tierney was that she was divorced. As a Catholic, JFK would have been excommunicated for marrying a divorcee. As a potential presidential candidate, a divorced man could not (they thought) win the office.

  6. Love, love, love that movie.

  7. […] Day Three: Laura Trivia […]

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