This Trading Places actor almost starred in Green Acres

Oliver Douglas almost had a very different look and feel!

Certain roles are bigger than the people who play them. The Joker, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond... These are all characters who are identifiable regardless of the faces portraying them. They are archetypes that can change with the times, with multiple actors playing the parts to great acclaim throughout different eras.

Oliver Douglas is not one of these characters. Oliver Douglas is, crucially, Eddie Albert, and that is one of the fundamental ingredients to making Green Acres what it was. The show toed the line of absurdity, with such a specific tone that worked because of how deliberately the show was cast. Casting Oliver Douglas any other way would've risked pushing Green Acres just a hair too far in either direction. Anyone playing the role more seriously would ground the show and make it boring. But if someone sillier had played him, then Green Acres would've teetered over the fence into absurd wackiness.

It may be hard to picture Oliver Douglas by any other name, but Eddie Albert was almost left behind in the history books, as producers initially sought a different actor for the role.

One of the first contenders for the starring role in Green Acres was actor Don Ameche. At the time the pilot was conceived, Ameche's career was at a lull, as he struggled to find TV and movie work. However, his fortunes nearly changed when he was invited to discuss the lead role in Green Acres. He attended a business dinner with executive producer Paul Henning, series creator Jay Sommers, and Filmways Productions president Al Simon. 

Henning recalled the evening's course of events in the 1993 volume The Hooterville Handbook: A Viewer's Guide to Green Acres.

"Both Jay and I were disillusioned," the executive producer explained. "Now you have to understand, Chasen's restaurant served wonderful food back then. I don't know about now; it's been a while. It was the place to eat back then. Don Ameche sent everything back to the chef. He said, 'This is not right! Do this! Do that!' Every dish, something was wrong."

Ameche's behavior at the fancy restaurant cost him dearly.

"When we split up at the end of dinner, I said, 'Jay, I think you've got a nitpicker here. This guy's gonna want to examine every word of every script.' Don Ameche seemed like someone who would demand so much attention that you wouldn't have time to write the scripts. There are people like that. And believe me, when you're turning out a script every week, you better have some time and peace of mind. Your opponent is the typewriter, and you don't need extra opponents."

Rather than move forward with Ameche, the production team decided, instead, to hire veteran actor Eddie Albert. Don Ameche eventually revitalized his film career in the 1980s with roles in hit movies like Trading Places and Cocoon, the latter of which earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. 

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SkippyDevereaux 1 month ago
I read somewhere that Martha Hyer was supposed to be Lisa Douglas, but she wanted $100,000 a year.
McGillahooala 1 month ago
Don Ameche would have ruined Green Acres and we would not be talking about the show now. Furthermore, I wholeheartedly believe that if Don had been cast as Oliver Douglas, the world would have spun off its axis and mankind would have descended into chaos. How could they have ever even considered him for that role?
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
How could each dish be unsatisfactory? He sounds like Gordon Ramsey.
WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
Eddie Murphy would be interesting As Oliver Douglas in a remake.
justjeff WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
I don't think so... let the classic show be...
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Don Ameche was a solid actor. Though, it does sound like he might have been difficult to work with.
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