For the pivotal role of Kitty, the young woman who almost marries Charles Rainier, Mervyn LeRoy cast an MGM ingenue named Susan Peters. He intended to take her under his wing during production and turn her into a major personality as he had transformed Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers and Loretta Young. Peters' tremendous coup was Ann Richards' loss. Although the Australian actress was given the small role of a member of the Rainier family in Random Harvest [Bridget, Charles's sister], her recent arrival at MGM had not been early enough for Sidney Franklin. He told the actress: "If you had come to the lot earlier, you would have gotten the much more important role of Colman's fiancee, which Susan Peters is already signed to play. She is supposed to remind him of his first love, Greer Garson, whom you resemble much more than Susan does."
Although disappointed, Ann was a good sport and years later expressed warm memories about the production. "Ronnie was extremely charming and made me feel very comfortable. In Australia, I had gone to school with his nieces, the children of his brother, Eric, and this formed a little bond between us."
(Cited in 'A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson', by Michael Troyan.
USA, 1999. p.139 ).
Ann Richards is pictured at far left (above) and second from the right (below). In the bottom picture she is with Ronald Colman.
BROTHER - Mr. Eric Colman, 1933.
Days of Past Recalled
In whimsical mood, Ronald Colman, the celebrated film actor, recently applied for work to a London producer, who, just after the Great War, refused to assist him, saying, "You are not a screen type."
The incident was related yesterday by Mr. Eric Colman, announcer of broadcasting station, 2GB, Sydney, who is a tourist on the Orient liner, Orama, which arrived at Brisbane from Noumea yesterday. Mr. Eric Colman described how, after the Armistice, he and his brother, Ronald presented themselves at a studio in Wardour Street, London. The producer was unsympathetic, and refused them work. On a recent visit to London Mr. Eric Colman and Mr. Ronald Colman visited the Wardour Street Studios, and jokingly asked the producer for a job.
"Ronald on the screen always annoys me," said his brother, laughingly, "because I always realise that he is just going on before the public as he always went on at home. He is perfectly natural. It makes me sick to think that he has ten times more in his bank account than I have for the simple reason that he is himself at all times."
Mr. Eric Colman is a great admirer of his brother's work, and invariably takes the first opportunity of seeing his latest films. In their boyhood they played together in London, and went to the war together. Mr. Ronald Colman received severe wounds, and, after convalescing, his keen interest in amateur theatricals led him to the stage proper. The rebuff of the English producer caused him to go to America, and his success was immediate.
"There is a great future for film production in Australia," said Mr. Colman, "but I think that the sooner we get away from stories of the bush the better. Bush stories may be popular in Australia, but they probably would not appeal overseas."
(This article courtesy of 'The Courier Mail, Brisbane' dated Saturday, December 30, 1933.)
Eric Colman in the Australian film Splendid Fellows.
RONALD COLMAN: AS SEEN BY HIS BROTHER - November, 1940.
A career that developed out of the melting-pot of World War 1.
Some years after the last war two brothers applied to an English movie studio for a film test. The manager looked them over, patted them on the shoulder and told them politely to run away and not waste his time.
The names of the two brothers were Ronald and Eric Colman. Today Ronald Colman is one of the leading actors in Hollywood, while Eric is one af the best known personalities in the Australian radio world.
BACK on the 2GB announcing staff after an absence of two years, Eric Colman recalled for The Australian Women's Weekly some interesting memories of his famous brother.
"Ronald is slightly younger than I am," he said, "but we both went to the same school together. In those days he was always reading, and the family intended that his career should be the Church. But he had even then a passion for acting, and fortunately our school at Littlehampton encouraged amateur theatricals, particularly performances of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. We both took part, and I can remember Ronald giving a fine baritone performance of the Pirate King in "The Pirates of Penzance.'
Sings in film:
"I SUPPOSE it will come as a surprise to most picture goers to know that Ronald can sing, for they have never heard him. I believe that in his new picture with Ginger Rogers, 'Lucky Partners,' he will be heard singing on the screen for the first time.
"It was probably the last war that was really responsible for Ronald becoming an actor. Anyway, its outbreak put an end to my commercial career, and interrupted his studies for the Church.
We both enlisted in 1914. I joined the South Staffordshire and Ronald the London Scottish Regiment. He was badly wounded in 1915. and I later transferred to what is now the Royal Air Force.
"When the war was over we were both at a loose end. Ronald drifted into stage work. And here is a rather strange coincidence.
"One of his first appearances on the stage in London was with the daughter of Ada Reeve. Miss Goodie Reeve. Soon after, we both tried to break into the English motion picture industry without success, and following that Ronald decided to see what Hollywood had to offer, while I decided to come to Australia and break into commercial aviation. That was in 1917, the last time we saw each other, though we have been in constant touch by mail.
"The result of Ronald's trip to Hollywood everybody knows. As for myself, I arrived in Australia, found little doing in commercial aviation, and took a job in a film-distributing company. That is where Goodie Reeve comes in again.
"She, too, had come to Australia, and had made a career for herself in radio. My firm decided to take the unusual step in those days of making a dramatic precis of the picture to advertise it by radio. Miss Reeve was asked to select a cast, and I was given a part. That broadcast brought me an offer of a job with 2GB, which I immediately accepted. The picture, by the way, was "The Trespasser,' in which Gloria Swanson sang 'Toselli's Serenade.' "
ERIC COLMAN has never missed seeing one of his brother's film from the days when he made the first version of 'The Dark Angel' and "The White Sister," with Lillian Gish, and his first starring appearance in "Beau Geste."
Like his brother, Eric Colman is very fond of sport.
"At school," he said, "Ronald was rather sickly, but he soon grew out of that, and to-day he is one of the finest tennis players in Hollywood. If his career had not been on the screen he might have been a first class tennis player."
Eric Colman resembles his brother, though his features are built on a much more rugged line than Ronald's. His voice is not unlike Ronald's, though it has its own distinctiveness.
He has appeared in two moving pictures, "Splendid Fellows'' and "The Flying Doctor," but his heart is too much in radio for him to desert it for a career in films.
In the eight years that he has been an announcer with the Macquarie Network, his voice and his personality have given dignity and distinction to Australian commercial radio.
(This Article courtesy of 'The Australian Woman's Weekly' of Saturday, 16th November, 1940 p.41.)
Eric Fraser Colman died on 3 August 1971 in Canberra and is buried at the Woden Anglican Lawn Cemetery in Canberra.
James Hilton, author of 'Random Harvest', 'Lost Horizon' and 'Goodbye Mr. Chips'. He also wrote the screenplay for 'Mrs. Miniver'.
Despite the part played by star artists, the part played by the announcer in radio entertainment is still an important one, says that well-known figure in the broadcasting world, Eric Colman.
FIVE years ago Eric Colman joined the staff of 2GB, and to-day he is known both here and abroad as a typical and representative example of Australian radio announcing.
"Make no mistake about it," says Eric Colman, "the success of a radio programme still depends on the announcer."
As chief announcer of 2GB, it is Eric Colman's duty to see that everything runs smoothly and to time. He has to select the right announcers for certain types of programmes, and during the daytime he has to familiarise himself with dramatic shows and any special broadcasts that are going on at night.
He must know the mood and tempo of each show, together with the opening and closing lines, so that announcements can be in keeping with the dramatic tone of that show.
"The whole secret of successful announcing," he says, "is to keep your head when things go wrong, and it is ten to one that listeners will never be aware any mistake has been made."
Eric Colman brings to radio that same charm of voice and manner that his famous brother, Ronald Colman, brings to the talkies. His voice conveys no false impression of the man himself. Like his brother, he is 5ft.11 inches [sic] in height, and, if not his double, has at least the familiar Colman features.
Banking lost a promising young man to radio, when, like his brother, Eric Colman decided to travel and see what countries abroad had to offer. Ronald went to America and made talkie history, and Eric came to Australia and made radio history.
Since coming to Australia Eric Colman has not revisited England, nor has he seen his brother except on the talkies, but one of these days, when his radio duties allow him to get away, Eric Colman hopes to make a flying visit to America.
Eric Colman played the part of the Flying Padre in the Australian picture, "Splendid Fellows," and more recently appeared in "The Flying Doctor," so that should he prove to be the first radio announcer to fly to America it will not be out of keeping with his previous career.
(This article courtesy of "The Australian Women's Weekly" (1933 - 1982) Saturday 10th April, 1937 p 33 )
Ronald Colman's widow Benita, daughter Juliet and George Sanders. Benita married George after Ronald's death.
The Films of Ronald Colman by Lawrence L. Quirk
Ronald Colman: A Bio-Bibliography
by Sam Frank
Ronald Colman, Gentleman of the Cinema
by R. Dixon Smith
Ronald Colman: A Very Private Person
by Juliet Benita Colman
“I never knew anybody to have more beautiful manners. He was kind and gentle, very friendly and sweet. - May McAvoy
Ronald Colman knew more about acting for the camera than any actor I worked with. - George Cukor
No one, not even Douglas Fairbanks, could match Ronald Colman’s screen close-ups. They were marvellous because he had a beautiful face, and because he had a deep but gentle masculinity: the ideal of the dark Englishman. - Laurence Olivier
Ronnie became not just an actor for me, but a way of life. - Vincent Price
He doesn’t need cloaks and swords and horses and big old lances or anything to be romantic, he’s just a wonderfully romantic person. - Greer Garson
He was the greatest actor I have ever known. He knew exactly what to do and was letter-perfect when he did it. - John Ford
Ronald Colman's daughter, Juliet Benita Colman. Photograph taken in 1975 at the time of the launching of the biography of her father.
Ronald Colman's brother, Eric Fraser Colman - army photograph from WW1 - 12th September, 1916.
Eric Colman in a clip from 'Splendid Fellows' (1934) which also features a guest appearace by the famous aviator, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith who disappeared whilst flying about two years after this film was made.
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'My most romantic scene? That was with Ronald Colman in 'Random Harvest', the story of a shell shocked veteran of World War 1 and the love he had forgotten. It was just after he recovers from his amnesia. We were meeting at our once beloved little cottage in the country. All the lost years of our love, and all the hopes of the future are crowded into that one scene. It hit the deepest emotional point I've ever experienced in a picture, and it remains a thrilling memory."