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Fredric March

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Also Known As: Ernest Frederick Mcintyre Bickel Died: April 14, 1975
Born: August 31, 1897 Cause of Death: cancer
Birth Place: Racine, Wisconsin, USA Profession: actor, model, bank clerk

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Distinguished stage actor and one of Hollywood's most celebrated, versatile stars of the 1930s and 40s. March's roles ranged from light comedy ("The Royal Family of Broadway" 1930) to horror ("Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" 1932) to melodrama ("The Best Years of Our Lives" 1946). His classically trained voice and engaging good looks highlighted a number of period pieces, such as "Anna Karenina" (1935), but he seemed more at home playing contemporary characters like the fading actor in "A Star Is Born" (1937) and the exploitative reporter in the biting comedy "Nothing Sacred" (1937). March was married to actress Florence Eldridge (who died in 1988), opposite whom he appeared on stage and screen, from 1927 until his death.

Distinguished stage actor and one of Hollywood's most celebrated, versatile stars of the 1930s and 40s. March's roles ranged from light comedy ("The Royal Family of Broadway" 1930) to horror ("Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" 1932) to melodrama ("The Best Years of Our Lives" 1946). His classically trained voice and engaging good looks highlighted a number of period pieces, such as "Anna Karenina" (1935), but he seemed more at home playing contemporary characters like the fading actor in "A Star Is Born" (1937) and the exploitative reporter in the biting comedy "Nothing Sacred" (1937). March was married to actress Florence Eldridge (who died in 1988), opposite whom he appeared on stage and screen, from 1927 until his death.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Iceman Cometh, The (1973) Harry Hope
2.
 ...tick...tick...tick... (1970) Mayor Jeff Parks
3.
 Hombre (1967) Alexander Favor
4.
 Seven Days in May (1964) President Jordan Lyman
5.
 The Condemned of Altona (1963) Gerlach
6.
 The Young Doctors (1961) Dr. Joseph Pearson
7.
 Inherit the Wind (1960) Matthew Harrison Brady
8.
 Middle of the Night (1959) Jerry Kingsley
9.
 Albert Schweitzer (1957) Narrator, words of Albert Schweitzer
10.
 The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) Ralph Hopkins
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Racine, Wisconsin
:
Worked as bank teller during high school vacations
1917:
Enlisted in the US Army; eventually commissioned as a lieutenant
1919:
Moved to NYC after a year in the Army to become a banker; worked as parttime newspaper and magazine model and as trainee at National City Bank until he suffered appendicitis and turned to acting during recuperation leave
1920:
Professional stage debut in David Belasco's production of "Debarau" in Baltimore; later moved to Broadway
1921:
Worked as an extra in films
1924:
At suggestion of director John Cromwell, changed name to Fredric March
1926:
Joined stock company in Denver where he met Florence Eldridge
1927:
Last Broadway appearance for over a decade, "The Devil in the Cheese"
1928:
Enjoyed stage success as Barrymoresque actor Tony Cavendish in the Los Angeles production of "The Royal Family"; spotted by a talent scout from Paramount and signed to a contract
1929:
Film debut in "The Dummy"
1929:
Played a professor who catches the attention of student Clara Bow in "The Wild Party"
1929:
Co-starred in the film version of Philip Barry's play "Paris Bound"
1930:
Acted in "Sarah and Son"
1930:
Reprised role of Tony Cavendish in the film "The Royal Family of Broadway"; garnered first Academy Award nomination
1931:
Received first Oscar for title role in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"; tied for award with Wallace Beery ("The Champ")
1933:
Starred in the film adaptation of Noel Coward's play "Design for Living"
1934:
Portrayed Death in human form in the film "Death Takes a Holiday"
1934:
Had title role in "The Affairs of Cellini"
1934:
Portrayed Robert Browning to Norma Shearer's Elizabeth Barrett in "The Barretts of Wimpole Street"
1935:
Cast as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables" and Vronsky to Greta Garbo's "Anna Karenina"
1936:
Had title role in "Anthony Adverse"
1937:
Portrayed the washed-up, alcoholic actor Norman Maine in the first screen version of "A Star Is Born", opposite Janet Gaynor; received Oscar nomination for Best Actor
1937:
Teamed with Carole Lombard in "Nothing Sacred"
1937:
Listed as the fifth highest-paid actor in Hollywood (earning nearly $500,000 a year)
1938:
Called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee
1938:
Returned to Broadway with Florence Eldridge in "Yr. Obedient Husband"; show was quick flop
1940:
Appeared in the Oscar-nominated Best Picture "One Foot in Heaven"
1941:
Cast a playwright trying to stop his actress-wife from retiring in "Bedtime Story"
1942:
Starred opposite Veronica Lake in "I Married a Witch"
1942:
Had lead role in the award-winning play "The Skin of Our Teeth" by Thornton Wilder
1944:
Played the title role in "The Adventures of Mark Twain"
1946:
Received second Academy Award for playing a returning soldier in "The Best Years of Our Lives"
1947:
Earned one of the first Tony Awards for Lead Actor in a Play for his work in the Broadway production of "Years Ago"; tied with Jose Ferrer
1948:
Starred in "Another Part of the Forest"
1949:
Offered the stage role of Willy Loman in the original Broadway production of "Death of a Salesman" but rejected it as being too "grim"; later starred in the 1951 film version
1949:
Had title role in "Christopher Columbus"
1950:
Acted on Broadway with Florence Eldredge in "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep", "The Autumn Garden" and "An Enemy of the People" (the latter adapted by Arthur Miller)
1951:
Earned fifth Academy Award nomination for "Death of a Salesman"
:
Was "grey-listed" during the 1950s
1954:
Played an unscrupulous financial executive in "Executive Suite"
1954:
Once again played Tony Cavendish in a CBS TV production of "The Royal Family"
1954:
Cast as Scrooge in CBS musical version of "A Christmas Carol"
:
Co-starred with Eldridge on Broadway in premiere of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night"; won second Tony Award
1958:
Played Arthur Winslow in the CBS version of "The Winslow Boy"
1960:
Starred opposite Spencer Tracy in the fictionalized version of the Scopes trial, "Inherit the Wind"; played character based on William Jennings Bryan; Eldridge portrayed his wife
1961:
Final Broadway role, "Gideon"; nominated for a Tony Award
1964:
Appeared as the US President facing a military plot to overthrow the government in "Seven Days in May"
1967:
Acted in "Hombre"
1970:
Returned to features in "... tick ... tick ... tick ..."
1970:
First diagnosed with cancer; underwent treatment
1973:
Last film appearance as Harry Hope in "The Iceman Cometh"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Wisconsin: Madison , Wisconsin -
Winslow Grammar School: Racine , Wisconsin -
Racine High School: Racine , Wisconsin - 1915

Notes

When March's 1938 return to Broadway in "Yr. Obedient Husband" was a resounding failure, he and Florence Eldridge placed an ad in the trades that showed a sketch depicting them as two trapeze artists missing each other's grip in midair. "Oops. Soory!" read the caption.

"It has been my experience that work on the screen clarifies stage portrayals and vice versa. You learn to make your face express more in making movies, and in working for the theater you have a sense of greater freedom." --Fredric March, quoted in his The New York Times obituary, April 15, 1975.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Aline Ellis. College sweetheart; became engaged as undergraduates; separated after he decided to become an actor.
wife:
Ellis Baker. Actor. Married in 1924; divorced in 1927; niece of character actor Edward Ellis.
wife:
Florence Eldridge. Actor. Met while performing together in Denver in 1926; married from May 30, 1927 until March's death in 1975; died in 1988 at age 87.

Family close complete family listing

father:
John F Bickel. Manufacturer, financier. Was president of Racine Hardware Manufacturing Company.
mother:
Cora Brown Bickel.
brother:
Harold Leroy Bickel. Born on April 11, 1887.
sister:
Rosina Elizabeth Bickel. Born on April 2, 1889.
brother:
Jack M Bickel. Born on February 21, 1892.
daughter:
Penelope Fantcucci. Adopted in 1932; had four children.
son:
Anthony March. Adopted in 1935.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Fredric March: Craftsman First, Star Second" Greenwood Press

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