Roughly Speaking

Rosalind Russell and Andrea King in “Roughly Speaking.” Warner Bros., 1945.

Rosalind Russell and Andrea King in “Roughly Speaking.” Warner Bros., 1945.

Andrea King remembers all too well the telephone ringing one morning while she reclined, striking an alluring pose in the still gallery at Warner Bros. She had just finished production on “Hotel Berlin” and was caught up in a whirlwind of publicity with the studio’s demand for more glamorous images of the rising star.

It was Michael Curtiz calling, the Oscar-winning director of “Casablanca.” He was asking if she could come over to his office on the lot right away. It was very important. Andrea didn’t dare refuse, plus she was excited at the prospect of working with such a renowned talent.

The film was “Roughly Speaking,” starring Rosalind Russell and Jack Carson, and there had been a problem with the young actress hired to play their oldest daughter Barbara in the later scenes. Curtiz was dissatisfied, and he fired her on the spot. He wanted to know if Andrea could take over the role that afternoon!

Before she knew what was happening, Andrea was in wardrobe and makeup, then on the back lot for an outdoor scene where the family was parking cars for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Fortunately, the part was small, with little dialogue, but there was no time to even read a script, let alone prepare for the role. Curtiz thought Andrea was perfect as is, and he rearranged the film’s shooting schedule to allow her to complete both of her short scenes in consecutive days. Despite the last-minute flurry of activity, Andrea enjoyed working with the director who was often considered intimidating by her fellow actors, and she adored Rosalind Russell and Jack Carson.