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Fredric March Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (47) | Personal Quotes (10)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 31 August 1897Racine, Wisconsin, USA
Date of Death 14 April 1975Los Angeles, California, USA  (prostate cancer)
Birth NameErnest Frederick McIntyre Bickel
Nickname Freddie
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Fredric March began a career in banking but in 1920 found himself cast as an extra in films being produced in New York. He starred on the Broadway stage first in 1926 and would return there between screen appearances later on. He won plaudits (and an Academy Award nomination) for his send-up of John Barrymore in The Royal Family of Broadway (1930). Four more Academy Award nominations would come his way, and he would win the Oscar for Best Actor twice: for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). He could play roles varying from heavy drama to light comedy, and was often best portraying men in anguish, such as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman (1951). As his career advanced he progressed from leading man to character actor.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bill Takacs <kinephile@aol.com>

Spouse (2)

Florence Eldridge (30 May 1927 - 14 April 1975) (his death) (2 children)
Ellis Baker (3 May 1925 - 17 January 1927) (divorced)

Trivia (47)

After he and his wife Florence Eldridge appeared in the heavily panned play, "Yr. Obedient Husband" in 1938, they ran an ad in New York newspapers; a cartoon borrowed from the New Yorker magazine, it showed a a trapeze artist missing his partner. The caption read: "Oops! Sorry!"
His wife, actress Florence Eldridge, appeared with him in The Studio Murder Mystery (1929), Les Misérables (1935), Another Part of the Forest (1948), An Act of Murder (1948), Christopher Columbus (1949), and Inherit the Wind (1960). On TV, she appeared with him in the Producers' Showcase (1954) presentation of 'Dodsworth' on 30 April 1956.
Adopted two children with his wife, Florence Eldridge: Penelope ("Penny," born 1932) and Anthony (born 1934).
His stage name was a shortened version of his mother's maiden name (Marcher).
Won two Tony Awards as Best Actor (Dramatic), the first in 1947 for his performance in Ruth Gordon's "Years Ago," an award shared with José Ferrer for "Cyrano de Bergerac," and the second, ten years later, in 1957, for his landmark performance in Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night." He was also nominated in the same category in 1962 for Paddy Chayefsky's "Gideon."
In 1949 he was targeted for blacklisting by the House Un-American Activities Committee because of his supposed "lefist" politics.
Shares the distinction with actors José Ferrer, Helen Hayes and Ingrid Bergman of being the first winners of acting Tony Awards when the annual event was established in 1947
For a while after undergoing major surgery for prostate cancer in 1970 it seemed March's acting career was finished. However he was able to give one final great performance in The Iceman Cometh (1973).
For many years he maintained his primary residence in New Milford, Connecticut. After his death, the property was subsequently leased to playwright Lillian Hellman as well as to Henry Kissinger.
Marlon Brando praised March as his favorite actor in his youth.
"We did 'Long Day's Journey...' for two years - that was enough! I've had the theater. It becomes a damn bore night after night.".
Although it was not used, he proposed the following epitaph for his tombstone: "This is just my lot.".
March and his second wife were both active supporters of the Democratic Party.
He and Basil Rathbone both appeared together in two television adaptations of "A Christmas Carol", shown in the 1950s. In the first, telecast in 1954 as part of the Shower of Stars (1954) series, March played Scrooge and Rathbone played Marley's Ghost. In the second, telecast in 1958 as part of the Fredric March Presents Tales from Dickens (1958) series, March was the narrator, and Rathbone played Scrooge.
He is the first actor to win an Academy Award for a horror film (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)). The next would not be until Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
March's daughter, Penny, remembered her father during her growing up years as fun, charming and very kind, writing in 1990, "I remember very well how handsome he looked back in the days when people really dressed up in the evening, and he'd have on tails and an evening cape to go out and I got to pop up his beautiful top hat" (Letter, Penelope March Fantacci, 12 September 1990).
He and Humphrey Bogart played chess every day during breaks in the filming of The Desperate Hours (1955).
Graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in economics.
Elected class president in his last year of grammar school, his senior year of high school and again in his senior year of college. In college, March was the manager of the football team and a member of the track team.
Served in the First World War as an artillery lieutenant.
In 1937 he was listed as the fifth highest paid individual in America, earning $500,000.
In 1955 an informal poll of some 30 top stars, directors and producers was tabulated and announced. March was picked as Best Film Actor two to one, with runners-up Marlon Brando, William Holden, Ronald Colman and Spencer Tracy.
He was of German, English and Scottish descent.
William Holden was quoted as saying that Spencer Tracy and March were his acting ideals.
A Beverly Hills mansion built for March in 1931 was the first home of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. It is now owned by Madonna.
March was a moderate smoker, emptying a pack of cigarettes a day; allowed himself one cigar a day after dinner, and was a mild drinker. He was an avid letter writer, and he kept up a large correspondence. Whenever he was asked by a newspaper or magazine for an article, he did not allow any publicity man to ghost it for him, but wrote it himself.
A 500-seat theater was named after him on October 15, 1971, at the University of Wisconsin branch in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Director John Frankenheimer called March "the finest human being I've ever known, as well as the best actor I ever worked with," citing March's celebrated turns in The Iceman Cometh (1973) and Seven Days in May (1964).
When asked which he preferred making, movies or live theater, he remarked, "Pictures are physically tiring; the theater is mentally tiring. Pictures last, the theater is built on sand. But I am grateful for my theater experience".
He singled out The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) as his favorite movie role and "Long Day's Journey into Night" as his favorite stage play. He considered work in television "an awful experience".
In 1938 he came in second in an audience poll for the role of Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (1939).
While pursuing his acting career, March--not wanting to overlook any means of keeping a little cash in his pocket--did some modeling. He immortalized shoes, shaving cream and cravats and posed for such famous artists as Charles Dana Gibson and Howard Chandler Christy and for Arrow shirt advertisements.
Because he considered 12 his lucky number, he shortened Frederick to Fredric, shortened his mother's maiden name from Marcher to March, and as of New Year's Day, 1924, Fredric March was born.
He entered the banking business in New York in 1920, working at what was then known as First National City Bank (now Citibank) when a ruptured appendix nearly killed him. While he was recuperating, his landlady (a former actress) related anecdotes from her days in the theater and he was so enchanted that he decided to pursue his real dream and become an actor.
Early in March's career, director John Cromwell, persuaded him to change his last name. His first wife wanted him to use his middle name and her first name: McIntyre Ellis. But he could not abide a name like that, being too used to Fred. Finally, they settled on his idea, Fredric March.
The final Hyde make-up in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) was so extreme that it almost permanently disfigured him. After filming was completed he was hospitalized for three weeks. His co-star Rose Hobart said, "Fredric March was lucky he wasn't ruined for life".
March also appeared with his wife, Florence Eldridge, in Mary of Scotland (1936).
It seems that nobody but Jesse L. Lasky wanted to make The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944). He fought for years to convince Warner Bros. to back a screen biography of the noted writer. Director Irving Rapper wasn't interested in making the film until he learned his friend March was first choice to star. March had been suggested by Twain's only living daughter, Clara Clemens Gabrilowitch, who informed Lasky that she would not help with the picture unless March played her father. But even with such a stirring endorsement, March had his doubts. He only accepted the role after the makeup department shot a test in which he played Twain at 65. When a picture of March in makeup was released to the papers, Twain's daughter thought somebody had discovered another archival photo of her father.
March kept in shape by swimming, playing tennis and horseback riding. He also enjoyed golf, reading, photography and travel.
In 1943, March made tours for the USO covering nearly 40,000 miles. His other contributions to the war effort included volunteering at the Stage Door Canteen and fund-raising activities.
In 1959 he was accorded the honor of reading the Gettysburg Address to a joint session of Congress on the 150th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.
In 1962 President John F. Kennedy called on him to do a dramatic reading at a White House dinner, and "at home" for 30 past Nobel Prize winners.
In 1965, both Marches got recruited by the State Department to tour eight Near Eastern countries, presenting recitations of poetry and excerpts from plays in which they had appeared in the American theater. They were the first husband-and-wife acting team to go abroad under the auspices of the State Department's division of cultural presentations.
In 1975 Marjorie Main, Larry Parks and Richard Conte died within days of March. March died April 14, 1975, and was cremated and buried under a favorite tree on his farm in Connecticut.
In 1947, the highest awards for giving the best performances of the year in two distinct mediums went to the same actor - Fredric March. An Oscar for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and a Tony for "Years Ago".
His performance in the title role in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) was an inspiration for the Marvel comics character Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk.
After 1958 he worked mostly on stage.

Personal Quotes (10)

Keep interested in others; keep interested in the wide and wonderful world. Then in a spiritual sense you will always be young.
I liked the name Frederick Bickel and I wish now I had left it as it was. After all, Theodore Bikel, whose name was similar though spelled differently, didn't change his, and he did all right.
Co-starring with [Greta Garbo] hardly constituted an introduction.
[commenting on the fact that he and Wallace Beery, who both won Best Actor Oscars for 1931-32 due to a tie, had recently adopted children] It seems a little odd that we were both given awards for the best male performance of the year.
Stardom is just an uneasy seat on top of a tricky toboggan. Being a star is merely perching at the head of the downgrade. A competent featured player can last a lifetime. A star, a year or two. There's all that agony of finding suitable stories, keeping in character, maintaining illusion. Then the undignified position of hanging on while your popularity is declining.
I have earnestly endeavored to perform my own share without fuss or temperament. An actor has no more right to be temperamental than a bank clerk. Possibly a very sane bringing up as a child has helped me to retain my sense of proportion in these matters.
[on Joan Crawford] She was a nice person, but a real movie star. She even brought her own music to the set [of Susan and God (1940)] - a whole entourage, a violinist and a pianist to play her favorite songs, to get her into the proper mood for the scenes.
Actually, I was not overwhelmed by [Greta Garbo's] beauty. I think at that time women were more attracted to her than men.
I'll take a dozen of those. (On receiving a kiss from Audrey Hepburn after her Oscar win in 1954)
(When asked how he prepared for a role) I think it's almost physically impossible to give a well-rounded performance without knowing it beforehand. To try and rehearse eight hours a day and then go home at night and knock more lines into your head-- it just doesn't work. You know it first, then try to polish as you go along.

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