11 Classic Hollywood Stars and How They Were Discovered
Posted in Entertainment on Dec 12th, 2018
If you’re the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen the remake of A Star is Born, featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, you might not realize how chance discoveries can happen. Although that tale, in particular, is fictional, there have been some pretty cool real-life happenings when some of showbiz’s greats were found back in the day. We’re here to relive them all with the stories of these classic Hollywood stars and how they were discovered.
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11. Lana Turner
The next time you’re sipping on a soda in public, make sure you look your best because it could lead to stardom. That’s what happened for Hollywood legend Lana Turner when she was discovered by a Hollywood Reporter publisher when she was just in high school. Turner was then introduced to Zeppo Marx who helped get her career started, and from there she went on to become a sex symbol and leading lady.
10. Ava Gardner
The brunette bombshell didn’t always have dreams of being an actress, but thanks to her brother-in-law that’s how it turned out when she was just 18 years old. After he sent Ava Gardner’s photo to MGM, she was contacted for a screen test and managed to secure a seven-year contract just based on how good she looked. Beautiful people just have all the luck, don’t they?
9. Audrey Hepburn
It was pretty much a given that Audrey Hepburn was going to be famous one day, and that was just based on her looks and charm. She was working as a model when she was approached by Gigi author, Colette, who thought she was perfect to play the leading part in the stage adaptation of her novel. She accepted and had a stellar performance, with the Broadway show paving the way for her highly successful career in Hollywood.
8. Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh took on her husband’s first name as her last when she got married, and the Indian born actress started out with very small bit parts in the London theater scene. When she traveled to America with the theater group, she was discovered by Gone With the Wind director George Cukor who thought she was the perfect fit for Scarlett O’Hara. People weren’t impressed that an American actress didn’t get the role, but it went on to be her most famed part and the start of her career.
7. James Cagney
Screen legend James Cagney wasn’t lucky enough to get famous when he first started out. The actor did many odd jobs around New York to make money and eventually got work in vaudeville, dressing in drag to be a chorus girl dancer. After many years, he landed a role in a play Penny Arcade and was then approached to star in the film adaptation of it, later named Sinner’s Holiday. Just goes to show that paying your dues is sometimes worth it.
6. Rita Hayworth
Back in the day, Hollywood stars were usually good at more than just acting. Rita Hayworth was one such star, and it was her talents in dancing that actually got her discovered. At the age of 16, Hayworth was discovered by a Fox studio executive, and they offered her a contract there and then, just four years after she started dancing professionally.
5. Fred Astaire
To think the world was almost without the talents of Fred Astaire is quite shocking, but that was the case. Astaire tried out many times for roles, and failed, with some notes from casting directors mentioning his balding hair and ability to only be able to “dance a little.” He had almost given up entirely when he tried one last time as a solo dancer, now that his sister had retired, and was lucky to get a part on the Joan Crawford movie Dancing Lady. He was offered a contract, and the rest is history.
4. Clark Gable
In a time before plastic surgery was the norm, if people didn’t have the right look then there was nothing that could be done about it. Clark Gable was turned down for acting roles because of his large ears and was told he’d never be a leading man. After landing a small speaking part in 1931’s The Painted Desert, he was finally offered a contract by MGM and went on to be one of Hollywood’s biggest actors of all time.
3. Cary Grant
Cary Grant was originally born in the UK as Archie Leach, and it’s not exactly the name of a handsome movie star so you can see why he never struck it famous. While he was still going by this name, he performed in a troupe of acrobats and moved to the US when he was 14 years old. After failing his first screen test he tried again, and this time did well enough to secure some roles with Paramount, under the proviso that he would change his name.
2. Greta Garbo
Greta was discovered at a theater in Sweden that she was attending when director Mauritz Stiller saw her. He offered her the lead in his latest silent film and asked her to change her name from Gustafson to Garbo. When MGM hired Stiller to come to the US and direct a film, he did so only if Garbo was allowed to follow. Although Stiller ended up leaving America, Garbo stayed behind and became one of cinema’s most successful foreign leading ladies.
1. Judy Garland
Judy Garland was another star who changed her name, originally known as Frances Ethel Gumm. Baby Gumm, as she was referred to on stage, started dancing at just three years old and was managed by her mother who was the family agent and a vaudeville dancer herself. At the age of 13, she adopted the name Judy Garland, got a spot singing on the radio, and from there went on to have massive success as an actress, starring in roles like The Wizard of Oz.