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Stars' Untimely Passings: What Could Have Been?


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Marilyn Monroe and James Dean both died young and tragically.  One could argue that their young deaths are partly responsible (or entirely responsible) for their legend.  Other stars died before their time (Jean Harlow).  Some died by their own hand (Carole Landis).  Of course, then there are others whose deaths were inevitable due to their own bad habits (Judy Garland and Errol Flynn).  Stars like Judy Holliday and Audrey Hepburn died young due to cancer and others had unfortunate accidents (Natalie Wood). 

 

What if these tragedies, overdoses, diseases, etc. hadn't happened? What if these stars had lived long lives and long (or longer) careers? What do you suspect may have happened to them? Did they win the Oscar? Retire and become a recluse in Hawaii? 

 

(This isn't limited to the people I mentioned above.  Anyone who died young).

 

I'll go first:

 

If Marilyn Monroe had continued on her career trajectory, starting with Bus Stop when she was trying to go for more serious fare, and continuing through to The Misfits, I think she would have finally gotten the roles she was dying for.  After completing Something's Gotta Give, Monroe would have gotten a meaty role in a drama.  She stops bleaching her hair and turns up in her next film with her natural brown hair, no make up and in frumpy clothes.  She's able to finally give the serious, emotionally raw performance she's been dying to give.  She receives rave reviews and her career is forever changed.  Monroe gets her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

 

 

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Marilyn Monroe and James Dean both died young and tragically.  One could argue that their young deaths are partly responsible (or entirely responsible) for their legend.  Other stars died before their time (Jean Harlow).  Some died by their own hand (Carole Landis).  Of course, then there are others whose deaths were inevitable due to their own bad habits (Judy Garland and Errol Flynn).  Stars like Judy Holliday and Audrey Hepburn died young due to cancer and others had unfortunate accidents (Natalie Wood). 

 

What if these tragedies, overdoses, diseases, etc. hadn't happened? What if these stars had lived long lives and long (or longer) careers? What do you suspect may have happened to them? Did they win the Oscar? Retire and become a recluse in Hawaii? 

 

(This isn't limited to the people I mentioned above.  Anyone who died young).

 

I'll go first:

 

If Marilyn Monroe had continued on her career trajectory, starting with Bus Stop when she was trying to go for more serious fare, and continuing through to The Misfits, I think she would have finally gotten the roles she was dying for.  After completing Something's Gotta Give, Monroe would have gotten a meaty role in a drama.  She stops bleaching her hair and turns up in her next film with her natural brown hair, no make up and in frumpy clothes.  She's able to finally give the serious, emotionally raw performance she's been dying to give.  She receives rave reviews and her career is forever changed.  Monroe gets her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Good topic. Many of the actors I see for the first time in old movies impress me. When I look them up, I find they've died in their 40s or 50s, and I wonder what they might have accomplished (or not!) had they lived.

 

A current actor whose career was sadly and tragically cut too short was Philip Seymour Hoffman.

 

And ditto on Carole Lombard, what a tragedy.

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Steve McQueen would've eventually won an award for best actor. Maybe in an Eastwood movie.

 

Marilyn Monroe would've starred with Brando in a serious role and gotten a best actress nomination, setting her up for more respect from then on and bringing Brando's box-office losing streak to an end years sooner than 1972.

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Brandon De Wilde, Carole Lombard, Rudolf Valentino.  What would they have evolved into?  Would Valentino have made it in Talkies? 

I'm sorry to say I don't know who Brandon De Wilde is.  I'm curious if Carole Lombard would have been able to segue into film noir. 

 

Valentino, while I haven't seen any of his films, I'd think it'd be interesting to 1) Hear what he sounded like and 2) To see if he was a real actor and not just a pretty boy in a Sheik outfit.  I bet he would have starred in a talkie remake of The Sheik as his first foray into talking pictures.

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Good topic. Many of the actors I see for the first time in old movies impress me. When I look them up, I find they've died in their 40s or 50s, and I wonder what they might have accomplished (or not!) had they lived.

 

A current actor whose career was sadly and tragically cut too short was Philip Seymour Hoffman.

 

And ditto on Carole Lombard, what a tragedy.

Agreed.  I remember looking up your beloved Warren William and saw that he died in his early 50s.  I wonder if he hadn't passed so early, maybe he would have had a resurgence late in his career.  He looks the type that would have done really well in noir. 

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I'm sorry to say I don't know who Brandon De Wilde is.  I'm curious if Carole Lombard would have been able to segue into film noir. 

 

Valentino, while I haven't seen any of his films, I'd think it'd be interesting to 1) Hear what he sounded like and 2) To see if he was a real actor and not just a pretty boy in a Sheik outfit.  I bet he would have starred in a talkie remake of The Sheik as his first foray into talking pictures.

Valentino did record a 78:

 

http://www.rudolph-valentino.com/rv-voice.htm

 

I'm guessing with some training, he would have at least been able to play supporting roles in the talkies.  Consider that Peter Lorre immigrated in 1933 not speaking English at all.

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I'm sorry to say I don't know who Brandon De Wilde is.

 

Now Speedy. Doesn't the line, "Shane! Come back Shane!" ring just a LITTLE bell inside your head there?! ;)

 

(...Brandon's next most famous role was probably in the movie "Hud", and in which be played Paul Newman's idolizing teenage nephew) 

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Kevin Coughlin was a child actor (he played Cara Williams' son in 'The Defiant Ones'). In the 60's he was in a slew of youth dramas like 'The Young Runaways', 'Maryjane', 'The Gay Deceivers' and, most famously, as the young genius bass player in 'Wild in the Streets'.

 

Not sure if he'd have made a comeback in movies at some point, but I liked him and he died very young - hit by a car in 1976.

 

kevincoughlin-36206a77.jpg

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Now Speedy. Doesn't the line, "Shane! Come back Shane!" ring just a LITTLE bell inside your head there?! ;)

 

(...Brandon's next most famous role was probably in the movie "Hud", and in which be played Paul Newman's idolizing teenage nephew) 

I haven't seen Shane ::blushes::

 

I haven't seen Hud either.  I looked him up on imdb and see he died at the age of 30 after hitting a parked car with his camper.

 

He had an Oscar nomination and had some pretty high-end co-stars.  It seems like he could have hit it big.  That's a shame.

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Laird.Cregar died at 28, I believe, just as he was getting leading roles. He weakened his heart due to drastic crash diet, as he wanted.to do romantic leads, and not just character parts.

 

Cregar's last.costar,.in HANGOVER SQUARE (1945), was Linda Darnell. She died 20 years later in 1965, at.the age of 41. She was a the point of a potential.comeback; she had just.completed.her first film.in several years, and had new film offers when she tragically died in a house fire.

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One amazing actor I just love was Robert Williams, also known as Jean Harlow's co-star of PLATINUM BLONDE. He died very young, in fact he died the year PLATINUM BLONDE was released. I just love him in this movie-- funny yet natural, likeable but with an edge, and very talented, especially the way he had of reading lines. I feel like he could have had quite a long and illustrious career with an Oscar or two in the horizon.

la_blonde_platine_platinum_blonde_1931_p

Not that he's a "star" but I also wonder what Jim Henson would have come up with in the last 25 years.

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Laird.Cregar died at 28, I believe, just as he was getting leading roles. He weakened his heart due to drastic crash diet, as he wanted.to do romantic leads, and not just character parts.

 

Cregar's last.costar,.in HANGOVER SQUARE (1945), was Linda Darnell. She died 20 years later in 1965, at.the age of 41. She was a the point of a potential.comeback; she had just.completed.her first film.in several years, and had new film offers when she tragically died in a house fire.

IMDb says 31, but I had no idea. Wow, he looked MUCH older in The Lodger. What a shame. I have a feeling, though, that he would have been typecast.

 

Darnell died in a fire? Horrific.

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Agreed.  I remember looking up your beloved Warren William and saw that he died in his early 50s.  I wonder if he hadn't passed so early, maybe he would have had a resurgence late in his career.  He looks the type that would have done really well in noir. 

Look at me, leaving off my WW. Now he won't speak to me for awhile. :rolleyes:

 

I read somewhere that he did his own shrub spraying, and died from inhalation of DDT.

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While Hud is one of my very favorite films (and Shane notwithstanding, it is BdW's greatest role -- the film is really about his character arc, despite all the footage devoted to Newman) I don't think DeWilde grew into a very interesting leading man. I see his career as roughly following Dean Stockwell's -- bland second lead roles in minor films or TV, then if he's lucky aging into an interesting character actor.

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One amazing actor I just love was Robert Williams, also known as Jean Harlow's co-star of PLATINUM BLONDE. He died very young, in fact he died the year PLATINUM BLONDE was released. I just love him in this movie-- funny yet natural, likeable but with an edge, and very talented, especially the way he had of reading lines. I feel like he could have had quite a long and illustrious career with an Oscar or two in the horizon.

la_blonde_platine_platinum_blonde_1931_p

 

 

 

RW is always my first choice whenever the topic gets around to the Great Lost Star. He's  funny and stylized like Lee Tracy, but always natural like a method actor, without ever being self-conscious or mannered. His performance in Platinum Blonde is really extraordinary.

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Valentino did record a 78:

 

http://www.rudolph-valentino.com/rv-voice.htm

 

I'm guessing with some training, he would have at least been able to play supporting roles in the talkies.  Consider that Peter Lorre immigrated in 1933 not speaking English at all.

 

Rudolph Valentino the actor might've gotten a few talkie roles like Ramon Navarro, but Rudolph Valentino the legend would have been destroyed.

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He spent most of his brief career in TV, but Pete Duel might've become a major star. 

 

Even when Duel was in his mid-twenties and a regular on the Gidget sitcom, he showed an impressive light comedy touch, especially for someone his age. In the late sixties Duel signed with Universal, and was generally underused until he won the lead in the comedy western series Alias Smith & Jones.

 

qyNBVij.jpg

 

 

Like Burt Reynolds and Doug McClure, Duel was following in the bootsteps of Maverick's James Garner and his template of self-deprecating reluctant hero. But Duel had wider range of any of them.

 

The future certainly seemed bright for him, but tragically Pete Duel committed suicide on New Year's Eve 1971. He was 31 years old.

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