When MGM expressed interest in signing Elizabeth Taylor, its rival, Universal Studios, made her mother an offer. Mrs. Taylor accepted the latter opportunity and signed Elizabeth to a seven-year contract. However, the studio’s casting director wasn’t optimistic about the child’s chance for stardom. “The kid has nothing,” he complained after he’d seen her screen test. “Her eyes are too old, [and] she doesn’t have the face of a child.” She was no Shirley Temple or Judy Garland.
Her contract didn’t last seven years. It was over in one. During the time that she worked for Universal, she was in only one movie, her first, Man or Mouse(1942). It was later renamed There’s One Born Every Minute.
Elizabeth, then 10, appeared opposite 15-year-old Carl Switzer, who’d played Alfalfa in the Our Gang comedy series. Most of Elizabeth’s time on the film was spent “firing elastic bands at fat ladies’ bottoms.”
Although Elizabeth’s introduction to Hollywood was a dismal failure, it didn’t stop her from becoming an accomplished actress who won Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors’ Guild Award, and numerous other honors.