Kay Francis
actress
Kay Francis
Kay Francis was an American stage and film actress. After a brief period on Broadway in the late 1920s, she moved to film and achieved her greatest success between 1930 and 1936, when she was the number one female star at the Warner Brothers studio, and the highest-paid American film actress. Some of her film-related material and personal papers are available to scholars and researchers in the Wesleyan University Cinema Archives.
Biography
Kay Francis's personal information overview.
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Photo Albums
Popular photos of Kay Francis
News
News abour Kay Francis from around the web
Sybil Jason - Telegraph.co.uk
Google News - over 5 years
Kay Francis was Warner's top female star of the time, and Sybil was next given the role of Kay's daughter in I Found Stella Parish. Sybil Jason later claimed: "Kay didn't much like me stealing her thunder. I remember she was mean to me and pulled the
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Carole Lombard Movie Schedule: MR. AND MRS. SMITH, VIGIL IN THE NIGHT, IN NAME ... - Alt Film Guide (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Cast: Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Kay Francis. BW-95 mins. 4:30 PM TWENTIETH CENTURY (1934) A tempestuous theatrical director tries to win back the star he created and then drove away. Dir: Howard Hawks. Cast: John Barrymore, Carole Lombard,
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Fan favorite isn't dated - Tampabay.com
Google News - over 5 years
Kay Francis is a delicate and lovely Clairee Belcher, the widow of the town's mayor. Both these accomplished actors bring new and pleasing facets to their characters. Arguably, the most difficult role is M'Lynn Eatenton (Susan Haldeman),
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Steel Magnolias returns to Show Palace Dinner Theatre - Tampabay.com
Google News - over 5 years
The story covers the next three years, with M'Lynn encouraged and comforted by some unlikely friends — the cranky town millionaire Ouiser Boudreaux (Jacque Wheeler, Show Palace debut), and her equally rich pal, Miss Clairee (Kay Francis, Esther in
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From Page to Screen Film Festival - blogTO (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Ronald Colman, Kay Francis An elegant Englishman's secret life as a notorious jewel thief ends when he falls in love with a beautiful woman. Nevertheless, he's forced into one last job for an old friend in trouble. Colman sets the standard for all
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Tom Ferris coaches juco team to national golf title - Joplin Globe
Google News - over 5 years
Tom married the former Kay Francis and they live in Marion, Ill. Just looking at Tom's record, I suspect that a spot is being dusted off in a Hall of Fame for golf coaches somewhere. Tom's record is not only remarkable, but puts him very special
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Claudette Colbert Q&A Pt.2: SINCE YOU WENT AWAY, Cecil B. DeMille Movies, MIDNIGHT - Alt Film Guide (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Most of her contemporaries (eg, Carole Lombard, Sylvia Sidney, Marlene Dietrich, Kay Francis, Jean Arthur, Irene Dunne) were either dead, retired, or had migrated to TV work (as did Colbert in the 1950s)
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Ronald Colman Movie Schedule: LOST HORIZON, HER NIGHT OF ROMANCE, RAFFLES - Alt Film Guide (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Cast: Ronald Colman, Kay Francis, Bramwell Fletcher. BW-71 mins. 2:45 PM THE UNHOLY GARDEN (1931) A gentleman thief falls for the daughter of the man he's trying to rob. Dir: George Fitzmaurice. Cast: Fay Wray, Estelle Taylor, Warren Hymer. BW-75 mins
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DVD Extra: Rediscovering RKO -- Grant, Lombard, Astaire, The Saint - New York Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Lombard, a commercial artist, is crushed to learn that Grant is married -- very unhappily, to the greedy Kay Francis, who refuses to give him a divorce. After she learns about Lombard, the manipulative Francis comes up with a scheme
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Google News article
"La Maison des sept péchés" : le mythe de la chanteuse et du marin sous l ... - Le Monde
Google News - over 5 years
Les titres les plus connus d'une filmographie apparemment versatile et contrastée sont le mélodrame Voyage sans retour, avec William Powell et Kay Francis, histoire d'amour entre un condamné à mort et une femme atteinte d'une maladie incurable et,
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Jukebox musical features favorites from Neil Sedaka at Show Palace - Tampabay.com
Google News - over 5 years
They meet resort owner Esther (Kay Francis, Show Palace debut), who is having financial problems, but still has a stellar floor show in the persons of heartthrob crooner Del Delmonico (Jim Sorensen, managing director of FreeFall Theatre) and Borscht
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Codebreakers at Film Forum - The L Magazine
Google News - over 5 years
Sensitive Wanda (Kay Francis) and her unrepentant gold-digger friend Marie (Lilyan Tashman) are objects of sympathy rather than sinners who have to be shamed: instead, Wanda wins over stolid Jim (square-jawed Joel McCrea) and Marie unites in female
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O Bilhete de Ida e Volta - Público.pt
Google News - over 5 years
Um filme romântico de Tay Garnett, que põe a contracenar as personagens de William Powell, fugitivo à justiça e da jovem fatalmente doente, representada por Kay Francis. Apaixonam-se no desconhecimento dos seus destinos condenados e,
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Looking Back - 2001: New vets' memorial in George, Iowa - Worthington Daily Globe
Google News - over 5 years
Playing this week at Worthington's State Theatre was “The White Angel,” starring Kay Francis as Florence Nightingale. Playing this week at the Grand Theatre was “The Last Outlaw” featuring Hoot Gibson and Harry Carey. Blackie Lukehart, a truck driver
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Google News article
Revival Circuit: 'British Agent' at FSLC - New York Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Though it resides with dozens of other obscurities on my DVR, I've never seen this romantic drama set in 1917 Moscow and starring Leslie Howard as a British diplomat and Kay Francis as Lenin's secretary. Indeed, I had never even heard of it when were
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Movies on TV, Today & Tonight - Regina Leader-Post
Google News - over 5 years
(149) >>> Little Men Kay Francis. Grown-up Jo March runs a school for boys. (2 hrs.) (102) > The Unborn Odette Yustman. A woman seeks the help of a spiritualist to banish a demonic spirit. (1 hr., 30 mins.) (166) >>> Benny & Joon Johnny Depp
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Looking Back - May 16, 1991 - Brookneal Union Star
Google News - almost 6 years
Kay Francis of Nathalie, who had graduated recently from Longwood College, received the Alpha Lambda Delta Award. Darryl D. Whitesell, 1987 William Campbell High School graduate, was awarded the Outstanding Accounting Major Award for academic
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Kay Francis
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1968
    Age 63
    She died in 1968, aged 63, and her body was immediately cremated; her ashes were scattered.
    More Details Hide Details Notes Bibliography
  • 1966
    Age 61
    In 1966, Francis was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy, but the cancer had spread and proved fatal.
    More Details Hide Details Having no living immediate family members, Francis left more than $1,000,000 to Seeing Eye, Inc., which trained guide dogs for the blind.
  • FORTIES
  • 1948
    Age 43
    Declining health, aggravated by an accident in 1948 in which she was badly burned by a radiator, hastened her retirement from show business.
    More Details Hide Details Francis married five times. Her diaries, preserved in an academic collection at Wesleyan University, paint a picture of a woman whose personal life was often in disarray. She regularly socialized with homosexual men, one of whom, Anderson Lawler, was reportedly paid $10,000 by Warner Brothers to accompany her to Europe in 1934.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1945
    Age 40
    The results – the films Divorce, Wife Wanted, and Allotment Wives – had limited releases in 1945 and 1946.
    More Details Hide Details Francis spent the balance of the 1940s on the stage, appearing with some success in State of the Union and touring in various productions of plays old and new, including one, Windy Hill, backed by former Warners colleague Ruth Chatterton.
  • 1944
    Age 39
    With the start of World War II, Francis did volunteer work, including extensive war-zone touring, which was first chronicled in a book attributed to fellow volunteer Carole Landis, Four Jills in a Jeep, which became a popular 1944 film of the same name, with a cavalcade of stars and Martha Raye and Mitzi Mayfair joining Landis and Francis to fill out the complement of Jills.
    More Details Hide Details Despite the success of Four Jills, the end of the war found Francis virtually unemployable in Hollywood. She signed a three-film contract with Poverty Row studio Monogram Pictures that gave her production credit as well as star billing.
  • 1939
    Age 34
    Francis did have a lead role in the Bogart gangster film King of the Underworld, released in 1939.
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  • 1938
    Age 33
    The Independent Theatre Owners Association paid for an advertisement in the Hollywood Reporter in May 1938 that included Francis, along with Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Fred Astaire, Mae West, Katharine Hepburn and others, on a list of stars dubbed "box office poison".
    More Details Hide Details After her release from Warners, Francis was unable to secure another studio contract. Carole Lombard, one of the most popular stars of the late 1930s and early 1940s (and who had previously been a supporting player in Francis' 1931 film, Ladies' Man) tried to bolster Francis' career by insisting Francis be cast in In Name Only (1939). In this film, Francis had a supporting role to Lombard and Cary Grant, but wisely recognized that the film offered her an opportunity to engage in some serious acting. After this, she moved to character and supporting parts, playing catty professional women – holding her own against Rosalind Russell in The Feminine Touch, for example – and mothers opposite rising young stars such as Deanna Durbin.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1931
    Age 26
    She had married writer-director John Meehan in New York, but soon after her arrival in Hollywood, she consummated an affair with actor and producer Kenneth MacKenna, whom she married in January 1931. When MacKenna's Hollywood career foundered, he found himself spending more time in New York, and they divorced in 1934.
    More Details Hide Details She frequently played long-suffering heroines, in films such as I Found Stella Parish, Secrets of an Actress, and Comet Over Broadway, displaying to good advantage lavish wardrobes that, in some cases, were more memorable than the characters she played—a fact often emphasized by contemporary film reviewers. Too frequently, however, Francis' clotheshorse reputation led Warners to concentrate resources on lavish sets and costumes, designed to appeal to Depression-era female audiences and capitalize on her reputation as the epitome of chic, rather than on scripts. Eventually, Francis herself became dissatisfied with these vehicles and began openly to feud with Warners, even threatening a lawsuit against them for inferior treatment. This in turn led to her demotion to programmers such as Women in the Wind (1939) and, in the same year, to the termination of her contract.
  • 1930
    Age 25
    From the years 1930 to 1937, Francis appeared on the covers of 38 film magazines, the most for any adult performer and second only to Shirley Temple who appeared on 138 covers during that period.
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  • 1929
    Age 24
    She frequently costarred with William Powell and appeared in as many as six to eight movies a year, making a total of 21 films between 1929 and 1931.
    More Details Hide Details Francis's career flourished in spite of a slight but distinctive speech impediment (she pronounced the letters "r" and "l" as "w") that gave rise to the nickname "Wavishing Kay Fwancis." Francis' career at Paramount changed gears when Warner Brothers promised her star status at a better salary. She appeared in George Cukor's Girls About Town (1931) and Twenty-Four Hours (1931). After Kay's career skyrocketed at Warners, she would return to Paramount for Ernst Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise (1932). In 1932, Warner Brothers persuaded both Francis and Powell to join the ranks of Warners stars, along with Ruth Chatterton. In exchange, Francis was given roles that allowed her a more sympathetic screen persona than had hitherto been the case—in her first three featured roles she had played a villainess. For example, in The False Madonna (1932), she played a jaded society woman nursing a terminally ill child who learns to appreciate the importance of hearth and home. On December 16, 1931, Francis and her co-stars opened the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California with a gala preview screening of The False Madonna.
  • 1928
    Age 23
    Francis was to appear in only one other Broadway production, a play called Elmer the Great in 1928.
    More Details Hide Details Written by Ring Lardner and produced by George M. Cohan, the play starred Walter Huston. He was so impressed by Francis that he encouraged her to take a screen test for the Paramount Pictures film Gentlemen of the Press (1929). Francis made this film and the Marx Brothers film The Cocoanuts (1929) at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Astoria, Queens, New York. By that time, film studios had started their exodus from New York to California, and many Broadway actors had been enticed to travel west to Hollywood to make films, including Ann Harding, Aline MacMahon, Helen Twelvetrees, Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart, and Leslie Howard. Francis, signed to a Paramount contract, also made the move, and created an immediate impression.
  • 1927
    Age 22
    By February 1927, Francis returned to Broadway in the play Crime.
    More Details Hide Details Sylvia Sidney, although a teenager at the time, had the lead in Crime but would later say that Kay stole the show. After Kay's divorce from Gaston, she became engaged to a society playboy, Alan Ryan Jr. She promised Alan's family that she would not return to the stage – a promise that lasted only a few months before she was back on Broadway as an aviator in a Rachel Crothers play, Venus.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1925
    Age 20
    She made her Broadway debut as the Player Queen in a modern-dress version of Shakespeare's Hamlet in November 1925.
    More Details Hide Details Francis claimed she got the part by “lying a lot, to the right people”. One of the “right” people was producer Stuart Walker, who hired Kay to join his Portmanteau Theatre Company, and she soon found herself commuting between Dayton, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati, playing wisecracking secretaries, saucy French floozies, walk-ons, bit parts, and heavies.
    In the spring of 1925, Francis went to Paris to get a divorce.
    More Details Hide Details While there, she was courted by a former Harvard athlete and member of the Boston Bar Association, Bill Gaston. Kay and Bill saw each other only on occasion; he was in Boston and Kay had decided to follow her mother’s footsteps and go on the stage in New York.
  • 1922
    Age 17
    Their December 1922 marriage at New York's Saint Thomas Church ended in divorce.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1905
    Age 0
    Francis was born Katherine Edwina Gibbs in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1905.
    More Details Hide Details Her parents, Joseph Sprague Gibbs and his actress wife Katharine Clinton Francis, had been married in 1903; however, by the time their daughter was four, Joseph had left the family. Francis inherited her unusual height from her father, who stood 6 feet 4 inches, she was to become Hollywood's tallest leading lady (5 ft 9 in) in the 1930s. While she never discouraged the assumption that her mother was the pioneering American businesswoman who established the "Katharine Gibbs" chain of vocational schools, Francis was actually raised in the hardscrabble theatrical circuit of the period. In reality, her mother had been born in Nova Scotia, Canada, and eventually became a moderately successful actress and singer under the stage name Katharine Clinton. Young Kay was often out on the road with her mother, and attended Catholic schools when it was affordable, becoming a student at the Institute of the Holy Angels at age five. After also attending Miss Fuller’s School for Young Ladies in Ossining, New York (1919) and the Cathedral School (1920), she enrolled at the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School in New York City. At age 17, Kay became engaged to a well-to-do Pittsfield, Massachusetts man, James Dwight Francis.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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