Stars and Stripes: Duryea Typed as Comic (1958)


The Stars and Stripes
Thursday, June 5, 1958
by Harold Heffernan

Dan Duryea Typed as Comic Now

HOLLYWOOD --- Personal but not private: That old Hollywood bogey, the type-casting rack, plays strange pranks on some who seek to unshackle themselves. Take, for instance, the case of Dan Duryea.

When Dan came out in 1941 from the New York stage to appear with Bette Davis in "The Little Foxes," he painted such a horrible portrait of stark villainy that for several years he couldn't keep up with the heavy roles tossed his way.

But Dan sorrowed and brooded over his movietown fate. He had wonted above all to play straight leads or comedy parts.

Stubbornly determined to win his point, he turned his back on all the villain job offers. A couple of years passed before he began to get any place at all along the new trail he had mapped out. The producers then discovered that Dan really was a jolly light comedian who was getting over nicely with the fans. His career was set solidly again --- on his own casting terms.

So, what happens now to our intrepid Mr. Duryea? Having scored once more as a funny fellow in U-I's current "Kathy-O," and chock full of confidence that he could now go back to taking an occasional fling at the baddies without career impairment, he met with a producer who had a plum heavy part in a new movie comping up. To Dan's amazement, the producer shook his head.

"It wouldn't work," he told the actor. "Audiences have been getting laughs out of you lately. The wouldn't remember how really tough you can be. They'd expect you to go soft before the end of the picture. What we need is a guy who is known as a heavy, who has failed to do comedy --- a guy the audience will know won't take another chance at switching character."