In the early 1950s everyone who went to the movies knew about Edmund Purdom. Here he is looking stern in the 1955 MGM Biblical epic, The Prodigal, with Lana Turner.
Hollywood considered Purdom perfect for the big and brassy extravaganzas it was churning out. He was blandly handsome, had Shakespeare on his resume, was well spoken — and British.
Remember, this was a time when Hollywood was convinced that English actors with stage backrounds could best pull off the histrionics required of leading actors in “prestige” box office pictures.
And like a few of these imports — somewhat like Michael Rennie, and Michael Wilding, although both had longer careers — Purdom pretty much came and went. While he was no Richard Burton, Purdom did manage to achieve top billing.
And an added bonus: his superactive love life kept Hollywood tongues wagging. (After all, how many actors could claim to have cuckholded Tyrone Power, for heavens sakes.)
Ok, let’s see how much you came recall about Purdom’s abrupt ascent and departure, As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Purdom was for a time known as ‘the replacement star’ because he more than once took over for other leading actors in big pictures. Who did he replace in the 1954 production of The Student Prince? a) Bing Crosby; b) Errol Flynn; c) Tyrone Power; or d) Mario Lanza.
2) Question: Who did Purdom replace in perhaps his most famous film role as The Egyptian? a) John Derek; b) John Cassavetes; c) Cameron Mitchell; or d) Marlon Brando.
3) Question: Purdom did not receive a warm reception in Hollywood initially, and his auditions at which of these studios went over like a wet blanket? a) MGM; b) Universal; c) Warner Bros.; or d) 20th Century Fox.
4) Question: Purdom’s tangled personal life led to multiple marriages. Who was the most famous of his four spouses, and what has this to do with Tyrone Power? (Hint: She was a notorious playgirl.)
5) Question: Before he landed a big studio contract in Hollywood, Purdom claimed that despite his glittering stage resume he was dead broke and couldn’t afford to go back to his native England. a) True; or b) False.
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