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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Marisa Mell in "Dynasty" ???

At the beginning of the 80's actresses which started their careers in the precedent decennia had it very difficult to keep up the momentum. A lot of them had to be satisfied with cameo's in movies, badly payed television roles or do softcore/hardcore to earn a living. Some of them disappeared completely from the movie canvas. Not every star or starlet from that time had the chance to marry a wealthy producer like Sophia Loren (with a man who could haven been her father due to the age difference) or Luciana Paluzzi (who had to make a decision between her career or becoming a mother). Marisa Mell was not so lucky but at least she was in good company with fellow actresses like Michèle Mercier, Virna Lisi, Ursula Andress, Elke Sommer, Karen Schubert, Claudine Auger... and Joan Collins. Joan Collins had already a very good career in the years precident to the 80's when at the end of the 70's it went nowhere. She had to accept parts in dubious films like "The Stud" and "The Bitch" based on novels by her sister Jackie Collins. She was desperate for work and money. Joan Collins had worked in the UK and the States and was still some kind of household name. Maybe not anymore for the general audience but for television producers she still was. In hindsight playing in the two before mentioned movies was her golden ticket for a reboost of her career. Aaron Spelling, procuder of television series which made history like Starsky and Hutch, Charlie's Angels and the Love Boot..., was always on the look out for faded stars to play in his productions because it was relatively cheap to hire them but formost it upgraded his often cheap scripts. At the beginning of the '80's the American network ABC was looking to rival her competing network CBS for prime time viewers who were, since three years, addicted to the soap "Dallas". ABC turned to Aaron Spelling to do the job. He and his team created "Dynasty" but during the soaps first year, which would become an über soap with everthing bigger, better and bolder, was in big trouble. Viewers were not tuning in to watch it and Dallas was the number 1 show on the Nielsen ratings. Help was needed and very quickly if the soap was to survive into a second season. A search started to find a solution to help the already sinking soap. Then lighting hit the producers. Why not create a new J.R and make him not male but female so she could rival the main characters on the show in the person of Blake Carrington, patriarch of the family and his second wife Krystle. The hunt was on to find the ideal actress to play the character Alexis Morell Carrington. Dozens of Hollywood actresses, old and new, were tested to play the part, even European ones like Claudia Cardinale or Gina Lollobrigida came on the short list, but always something was lacking untill one of the staff members at Spelling remembered a middle aged actress which played some kind of a pre-Alexis in two cheap sexploitation movies in the UK called "The Stud" and "The Bitch". The rest is history. Joan Collins, desperate for money, was flown over to the States, tested the part and got it. A great deal in her favour probably was the fact that she spoke English with a very up class Britsh accent which sounded very snobby and exotic for American viewers and gave a hint of being very wealty. She was quicky written into the show so she could be part of the cliffhanger in the last episode of season 1 as a mystery witness in a Blake Carrington related trial. At the beginning of the second season it was revealed that the mystery witness was Blake's first wife, Alexis Morell Carrington, played by Joan Collins.
So what has this to do with Marisa Mell? Well, it could be possible that, although I have never read or heard anything about, but that is normal in casting searches to keep the procedures hidden, that Marisa Mell was, one time or another, a candidate to play the character of Alexis in Dynasty. It could have been. She was known in the States due to her international productions like Mahogany with Diana Ross. She was still very beautiful and was looking the part as you can see on the above picture. She had international film and television experience. She was educated at a famous theatre school "Max Reinhardt Seminar" in Vienna. If she got the part, instead of Joan Collins, her life would have been very different. She would have gotten fame and money like she never had in her life. It would have made her life a little easier at the end of it when her terrible disease struck. The down side would be that she had to move to Los Angeles. That could have been a problem because a decade earlier Marisa Mell refused to go to America to start a film career because of the harsh ever demanding contracts in those days. Marisa Mell prefered to stay in Europe with more flexible working conditions and the good life. This is something that she probably felt sorry about later. Due to the success of Dynasty more über soaps became the hit and the search for older stars grew. The best examples are still Gina Lollobrigida, costing the production company a lot of dollars, in "Falcon Crest", former lover and also broke actor Helmut Berger in "Dynasty" or even Rock Hudson, at the end of his life, also in "Dynasty".


Keith said...

I never knew that about Marisa Mell. Her life would have been much different I guess at the end. She made the decision that she felt was right for her. She was still very striking at the time. I identify the role of Alexis so much with Joan Collins now that I wonder what it would have been like with another actress. I loved Dynasty. I watched it religiously. It was my favorite of the nighttime soaps. What I liked about those soaps was that a lot of stars that had faded away as they got older were now working again. That was my introduction to many of them.

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

One of the reasons why her career went nowhere at a point in her life is due to the lack of direction or a good management to give direction to her creative life! And then there were the many men in her life who in the end took advantage of her and dumped her when they had what they were looking for! The same story goes also for many actresses like for example Sylvia Kristel, the famous star of the Emmanuelle triology! Who lives now in a very small appartment in Amsterdam (Holland)and lives of social benefits.