Fredric March


Actor
Fredric March

About

Also Known As
Ernest Frederick Mcintyre Bickel
Birth Place
Racine, Wisconsin, USA
Born
August 31, 1897
Died
April 14, 1975
Cause of Death
Cancer

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...

Photos & Videos

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) - Makeup Test Stills
Design for Living - Lobby Cards
We Live Again - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

Aline Ellis
Companion
College sweetheart; became engaged as undergraduates; separated after he decided to become an actor.
Ellis Baker
Wife
Actor. Married in 1924; divorced in 1927; niece of character actor Edward Ellis.
Florence Eldridge
Wife
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.

Bibliography

"Fredric March: Craftsman First, Star Second"
Deborah C Peterson, Greenwood Press (1996)

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.

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.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Iceman Cometh (1973)
...tick...tick...tick... (1970)
Mayor Jeff Parks
Hombre (1967)
Alexander Favor
Seven Days in May (1964)
President Jordan Lyman
The Condemned of Altona (1963)
Gerlach
The Young Doctors (1961)
Dr. Joseph Pearson
Inherit the Wind (1960)
Matthew Harrison Brady
Middle of the Night (1959)
Jerry Kingsley
Albert Schweitzer (1957)
Narrator, words of Albert Schweitzer
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956)
Ralph Hopkins
Alexander the Great (1956)
Philip of Macedonia
The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1955)
Rear Adm. George Tarrant
The Desperate Hours (1955)
Dan Hilliard
Executive Suite (1954)
Loren Phineas Shaw
Man on a Tightrope (1953)
Karel Cernik
Death of a Salesman (1952)
Willy Loman
It's a Big Country: An American Anthology (1952)
Papa Esposito
The Titan (1950)
Told by
Christopher Columbus (1949)
Christopher Columbus
Another Part of the Forest (1948)
Marcus Hubbard
An Act of Murder (1948)
Judge Calvin Cooke
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Al Stephenson
Tomorrow, the World! (1944)
Mike Frame
The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944)
Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain
I Married a Witch (1942)
Wallace Wooley/Jonathan Wooley/and additional ancestral Wooleys
Victory (1941)
Hendrik Heyst
So Ends Our Night (1941)
Josef Steiner [later known as Johann Huber]
Bedtime Story (1941)
Lucius "Luke" Drake
One Foot in Heaven (1941)
William Spence
Susan and God (1940)
Barrie [Trexel]
There Goes My Heart (1938)
Bill Spencer
The Buccaneer (1938)
Jean Lafitte
Trade Winds (1938)
Sam Wye
The 400 Million (1938)
A Star Is Born (1937)
Norman Maine
Nothing Sacred (1937)
Wally Cook
Mary of Scotland (1936)
[Earl of] Bothwell
The Road to Glory (1936)
Lieutenant Michel Denet
Anthony Adverse (1936)
Anthony Adverse
Anna Karénina (1935)
[Count] Vronsky
The Dark Angel (1935)
Alan Trent
Les Misérables (1935)
Jean Valjean/Champmathieu
The Affairs of Cellini (1934)
Benvenuto Cellini
Good Dame (1934)
Mace Townsley
We Live Again (1934)
Prince Dmitri Ivanovich Nekhlyudov
The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)
Robert Browning
Death Takes a Holiday (1934)
Prince Sirki/[Death]
All of Me (1934)
Don Ellis
Tonight Is Ours (1933)
Sabien [Pastal]
Design for Living (1933)
Tom Chambers
The Eagle and the Hawk (1933)
Jerry Young
Smilin' Through (1932)
Kenneth Wayne [/Jeremy Wayne]
Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
Jerry [Corbett]
Strangers in Love (1932)
Arthur Drake/Robert [Buddy] Drake
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)
Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
The Sign of the Cross (1932)
Marcus [Superbus]
Make Me a Star (1932)
My Sin (1931)
Dick Grady
The Royal Family of Broadway (1931)
Tony Cavendish
The Night Angel (1931)
Rudek Berkem
Honor Among Lovers (1931)
Jerry Stafford
Sarah and Son (1930)
Howard Vanning
True to the Navy (1930)
Gunner McCoy
Manslaughter (1930)
Dan O'Bannon
Laughter (1930)
Paul Lockridge
Ladies Love Brutes (1930)
Dwight Howell
Paramount on Parade (1930)
Jealousy (1929)
Pierre
The Wild Party (1929)
[James] "Gil" Gilmore
The Dummy (1929)
Trumbell Meredith
The Marriage Playground (1929)
Martin Boyne
Paris Bound (1929)
Jim Hutton
Footlights and Fools (1929)
Gregory Pyne
The Studio Murder Mystery (1929)
Dick Hardell

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Lights Out in Europe (1940)
Narr
The 400,000,000 (1939)
Commentary spoken by

Cast (Special)

A Christmas Carol (1954)

Life Events

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"

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"

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"

Photo Collections

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) - Makeup Test Stills
Here are a few makeup test stills taken of Fredric March during production of Paramount's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932). Such test stills were taken prior to principal photography for approvals.
Design for Living - Lobby Cards
Here are some Lobby Cards from Design for Living (1932), directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, and Gary Cooper. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
We Live Again - Movie Poster
We Live Again - Movie Poster
The Best Years of Our Lives - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release American movie posters for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), produced by Samuel Goldwyn.
Executive Suite - Group Publicity Stills
Here is a series of publicity stills taken of the all-star cast of Executive Suite (1954). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
I Married a Witch - Lobby Card
Here is a Lobby Card from I Married a Witch (1942). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Smilin' Through (1932) - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from MGM's Smilin' Through (1932), starring Norma Shearer and Fredric March. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
A Star is Born (1937) - Lobby Card
Here is a lobby card from A Star is Born (1937), starring Fredric March and Janet Gaynor. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Anthony Adverse - Scene Stills
Here are some scene stills from Warner Bros' Anthony Adverse (1936), directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Fredric March and Olivia de Havilland.
Nothing Sacred - Movie Poster
Here is the original-release window card movie poster for Nothing Sacred (1937), starring Carole Lombard and Fredric March.
The Eagle and the Hawk - Scene Stills
Here are several scene stills from Paramount Pictures' The Eagle and the Hawk (1933), starring Fredric March, Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, and Jack Oakie.
Anna Karenina (1935) - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are some photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Anna Karenina (1935), directed by Clarence Brown and Starring Greta Garbo and Fredric March.
The Eagle and the Hawk - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from Paramount Pictures' The Eagle and the Hawk (1933), starring Fredric March, Cary Grant and Carole Lombard. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Eagle and the Hawk - Movie Poster
Here is the original one-sheet movie poster for Paramount's The Eagle and the Hawk (1933), starring Fredric March and Cary Grant. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The Eagle and the Hawk - Publicity Stills
Here are a few photos taken to help publicize Paramount Pictures' The Eagle and the Hawk (1933), starring Fredric March, Cary Grant, and Carole Lombard. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Buccaneer (1938) - Movie Poster
Here is a window card from Paramount's The Buccaneer (1938), starring Fredric March. Window cards were small posters displayed in store windows around town, with room at the top to write theater information.
Sign of the Cross - Lobby Cards
Here are several lobby cards from Cecil B. De Mille's Sign of the Cross (1933). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Executive Suite - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Executive Suite (1954). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Merrily We Go To Hell (1932) — (Movie Clip) Less Ventilation And More Smoke! Joan (Sylvia Sidney) has just told her drunken playwright faithless husband Jerry (Fredric March) that she’s willing to try a modern, open marriage so she’s met his dashing actor friend Charlie (Cary Grant!) for lunch, then they join a theater-scene party (pals Skeets Gallagher and Adrianne Allen attending), with humor masking bitterness, Dorothy Arzner directing, in Merrily We Go To Hell, 1932.
Les Miserables (1935) - I Myself Was Born In Prison Villain Javert (Charles Laughton) is confirmed to his police rank, supplying his own character background, in an early scene from Richard Boleslawski's 20th Century Fox production of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, 1935.
Les Miserables (1935) - A Wonderful Effort Crucial scene nicely wrought by director Richard Boleslawski, Fredric March, whom we know is really the reformed criminal Valjean, now known as M. Madeleine, a prosperous business owner, performs a rescue, stirring the memory of the magistrate Javert (Charles Laughton), his one-time jailer, in 20th Century-Fox’s Les Miserables, 1935.
Les Miserables (1935) - The Good Priest Bishop Bienvenue (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) makes a big deposit in the karma bank, telling the cops that the plates Valjean (Fredric March) stole were in fact a gift, in the 1935 Fox production of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.
Les Miserables (1935) - Opening, Ten Years In The Galleys Title sequence and first scene introducing Valjean (Fredric March) from director Richard Boleslawski's lavish but efficient 1935 production of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, from 20th Century Fox.
Les Miserables (1935) - Where's My Bread? Valjean (Fredric March) suffering and Javert (Charles Laughton) observing in director Richard Boleslawski's quick survey of Prisoner #2906's ordeal, from Fox's 1935 production of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, 1935.
Design for Living (1933) - Bonjour! Snoozing on a French train, George (Gary Cooper) and Tom (Fredric March) can be forgiven for assuming Gilda (Miriam Hopkins) is French, in the first scene from Ernst Lubitsch's Design for Living, 1933, from a Noel Coward play and Ben Hecht screenplay.
Design for Living (1933) - Bassington Speaks! American Tom (Fredric March) at his Paris garret writing "un-produced plays" when Plunkett (Edward Everett Horton), visiting to discourage his pursuit of his employee Gilda (Constance Bennett), inadvertently inspires him, in Ernst Lubitsch's Design for Living, 1933.
Design For Living (1933) - Artistic Bums! Max Plunkett (Edward Everett Horton), successful international ad agency executive and chivalrous employer but frustrated suitor of American Paris-based artist Gilda (Miriam Hopkins), visits after having told off her two new romantic interests, a painter (Gary Cooper) and playwright (Fredric March), in Ernst Lubitsch’s Design For Living, 1933.
Design For Living (1933) - No Woman Is Worth It! Broke Paris roommates, painter George (Gary Cooper) and playwright Tom (Fredric March) have decided they must end their friendship because they’re in love with the same girl (Miriam Hopkins) they met on the train, then changing their minds, Ernst Lubitsch directing from the Noel Coward play and Ben Hecht screenplay, in Design For Living, 1933.
Man On A Tightrope (1953) - Czechoslovakia, 1952 Opening with noise and some scale, shooting on location in Bavaria, Germany, director Elia Kazan introduces leading man Fredric March as circus boss Cernik, Gloria Grahame his wife, Paul Hartman his aide, Terry Moore his daughter, Cameron Mitchell her friend, in the feature Kazan made after Viva Zapata! but before On The Waterfront, Man On A Tightrope, 1953.
Man On A Tightrope (1953) - This Is Considered Amusing? Summoned by officials of the communist Czechoslovak government, circus manager Cernik (Fredric March) explains to interrogator John Dehner about his staff, and his difficulty in presenting politically skewed skits, with propagandist Adolphe Menjou listening, in Elia Kazan’s Man On A Tightrope, 1953.

Trailer

Susan and God - (Original Trailer) A flighty socialite neglects her family to promote a new religious group in Susan and God (1940) starring Joan Crawford, directed by George Cukor.
Anthony Adverse - (Original Trailer) Seven Oscar nominations went to Anthony Adverse (1936), Warner Brothers' adaptation of the best selling novel about 18th-Century Italy.
Seven Days in May - (Original Trailer) The U.S. President is threatened by a military coup in Seven Days in May (1964) written by Rod Serling and starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.
Bridges At Toko-Ri, The - (Re-Issue Trailer) Two jet pilots forge a lasting friendship while fighting the Korean War in The Bridges At Toko-Ri (1954).
Best Years Of Our Lives, The - (Re-issueTrailer) Seven Oscars including Best Picture went to this story of America immediately after World War II, The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946).
Anna Karenina (1935) - (Original Trailer) Greta Garbo stars in Anna Karenina (1935), a film adaptation of Tolstoy's classic tale of a woman who deserts her family for an illicit love.
Nothing Sacred - (Original Trailer) When a small-town girl is diagnosed with a rare, deadly disease, an ambitious newspaper man turns her into a national heroine in Nothing Sacred (1937).
Star is Born, A (1937) - (Original Trailer) A fading matinee idol marries the young beginner he's shepherded to stardom in A Star is Born (1937) starring Janet Gaynor & Fredric March.
There Goes My Heart (1938) -- (Original Trailer) One presumes the columnist Ed Sullivan, here long before his TV-star days, is sharing as opposed to taking credit, for his part in There Goes My Heart, 1938, starring Fredric March and Virginia Bruce.
Inherit the Wind -- (Original Trailer) In the twenties, a schoolteacher creates a national furor by teaching evolution in his class in Inherit the Wind (1960), directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Spencer Tracy and Fredric March.
tick...tick...tick - (Original Trailer) Racial fireworks are set off in a small southern town when a black sheriff (Jim Brown) arrives in ...tick...tick...tick (1970).
Adventures of Mark Twain, The - (Original Trailer) Fredric March plays the great American humorist in his life story The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944).

Promo

Family

John F Bickel
Father
Manufacturer, financier. Was president of Racine Hardware Manufacturing Company.
Cora Brown Bickel
Mother
Harold Leroy Bickel
Brother
Born on April 11, 1887.
Rosina Elizabeth Bickel
Sister
Born on April 2, 1889.
Jack M Bickel
Brother
Born on February 21, 1892.
Penelope Fantcucci
Daughter
Adopted in 1932; had four children.
Anthony March
Son
Adopted in 1935.

Companions

Aline Ellis
Companion
College sweetheart; became engaged as undergraduates; separated after he decided to become an actor.
Ellis Baker
Wife
Actor. Married in 1924; divorced in 1927; niece of character actor Edward Ellis.
Florence Eldridge
Wife
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.

Bibliography

"Fredric March: Craftsman First, Star Second"
Deborah C Peterson, Greenwood Press (1996)

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.