A rousing well done for Paul Dean's article on the London Taxi Company ("London Cabs Try Hacking It on the Streets of L.A.," Dec. 9). Regarding Simon Templar: George Sanders was not Leslie Charteris' first choice to play Simon on screen. George's brother, Tom Conway, was. I got that a long time ago from Jim Merrick, who worked for Howard Strickland in MGM publicity.
Merrick himself was a character. An expatriate Englishman, he was a dapper dresser, and smoked cigarettes in a holder while running the elevator in the MGM executive building. One of his jobs was to "express" Louis B. Mayer to his office every morning.
One day Mayer told him that anyone sounding like that, dressed like that, and smoking through that thing should be in some higher calling. Merrick moved to the bottom rung in the publicity department, and eventually handled many of the top stars.