Frank Sinatra (And Others) Originally Cast as Dirty Harry

Here’s a bit of manly movie trivia for you. Despite being one of his most iconic roles, Clint Eastwood wasn’t even considered to play the title role of Dirty Harry until a whole bunch of other actors turned the job down.

Frank Sinatra was originally cast to play Dirty Harry, but a broken wrist he suffered while filming the Manchurian Candidate prevented him from hoisting Harry Calagan’s signature beast of a gun.  So he had to quit. John Wayne was then offered the role, but he turned it down because he didn’t “like being offered Sinatra’s rejections.” Producers then went after Robert Mitchum, but he turned it down because he thought the role was a “piece of junk.” Burt Lancaster was then offered the role, but he turned it down because he didn’t agree with the movie’s violence. Finally Eastwood was offered the script and the rest was movie history.

Eastwood needs to ask himself one question: Do I feel lucky that everybody turned down Dirty Harry? Well, do ya, punk?

Via The Gun Nut

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

James Matthew Brunson August 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm

According to wikipedia Steve McQueen also turned down the role because he didn’t want to do another cop film.

Frank August 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Somehow, I can’t see McQueen or Sinatra playing Dirty Hairy. McQueen may have played a rebel, but not in the same way Harry was, and Sinatra was basically human garbage from what I’ve heard, even if he did have an amazing singing voice. I could actually kind of see Wayne in the role, but it definitely wouldn’t have been played the same way.

fubar August 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Of those only Steve McQueen would have made (about) the same movie. Sinatra/Wayne woulda been just weird…

Jason August 31, 2011 at 9:39 am

Trying to imagine how Sinatra or The Duke would have delivered Dirty Harry’s famous quote.

“Well do ya, Pilgrim?”

DB September 1, 2011 at 8:01 am

Jason, you’re hilarious. Sinatra would have said, “Well, do ya, babe?”

Had to think of anyone doing that except for Clint.

Brandi January 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Wow, that is freaking awesome! I’m a huge FAS fan, and I love Clint Eastwood!!! I cant wait to tell my hubby about this when he gets home from work, b/c he’s an Eastwood fan as well…(he just deals with Sinatra cause he loves me!)

mario alleva September 2, 2012 at 9:29 am

Sinatra would have made a very good dirty harry. John Wayne couldn’t act to save
his butt. the only good acting movie he ever made was Red River the rest were
phony hero shows, which we all know he wasn’t.

JACK ENGLISH March 8, 2013 at 7:28 pm


Chad Slocum April 3, 2016 at 9:59 am

Sinatra would have been outstanding!

ma May 10, 2016 at 5:11 pm

You left out Paul Newman, who it seems suggested Eastwood for the role.
where I also found that Siegel’s first choice was Audie Murphy.

bert August 23, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Robert Mitchum turned it down but his brother had no problem taking a small role as Frank DiGiorgio in 3 Dirty Harry films.

Roger November 14, 2016 at 2:38 pm

I am sure the script & signature lines would have changed if another actor took the roll but it all worked out for Clint and springboard led him to stardom

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