Fredric March (born Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel; August 31, 1897 – April 14, 1975) was an American actor, regarded as "one of Hollywood's most celebrated, versatile stars of the 1930s and 1940s". He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), as well as the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for Years Ago (1947) and Long Day's Journey into Night (1956). March is one of only two actors, the other being Helen Hayes, to have won both the Academy Award and the Tony Award twice.
Like Laurence Olivier, March had a rare protean quality to his acting that allowed him to assume almost any persona convincingly, from Robert Browning to William Jennings Bryan to Dr Jekyll - or Mr. Hyde. He received an Oscar nomination for the 4th Academy Awards in 1930 for The Royal Family of Broadway, in which he played a role modeled on John Barrymore. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 5th Academy Awards in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (tied with Wallace Beery for The Champ, although March accrued one more vote than Beery). This led to roles in a series of classic films based on stage hits and classic novels like Design for Living (1933) with Gary Cooper and Miriam Hopkins; Death Takes a Holiday (1934); Les Misérables (1935) with Charles Laughton; Anna Karenina (1935) with Greta Garbo; Anthony Adverse (1936) with Olivia de Havilland; and as the original Norman Maine in A Star is Born (1937) with Janet Gaynor, for which he received his third Academy Award nomination. March resisted signing long-term contracts with the studios, enabling him to play roles in films from a variety of studios. He returned to Broadway after a ten-year absence in 1937 with a notable flop, Yr. Obedient Husband, but after the success of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, he focused as much on Broadway as on Hollywood. He won two Best Actor Tony Awards: in 1947 for the play Years Ago, written by Ruth Gordon; and in 1957 for his performance as James Tyrone in the original Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. He also had major successes in A Bell for Adano in 1944 and Gideon in 1961, and played Ibsen's An Enemy of the People on Broadway in 1951. During this period, he also starred in films, including I Married a Witch (1942) and Another Part of the Forest (1948), and won his second Oscar in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives. March also branched out into television, winning Emmy nominations for his third attempt at The Royal Family for the series The Best of Broadway as well as for television performances as Samuel Dodsworth and Ebenezer Scrooge. On March 25, 1954, March co-hosted the 26th Annual Academy Awards ceremony from New York City, with co-host Donald O'Connor in Los Angeles. March's neighbor in Connecticut, playwright Arthur Miller, was thought to favor March to inaugurate the part of Willy Loman in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman (1949). However, March read the play and turned down the role, whereupon director Elia Kazan cast Lee J. Cobb as Willy, and Arthur Kennedy as one of Willy's sons, Biff Loman, two men that the director had worked with in the film Boomerang (1947). March later regretted turning down the role, and finally played Willy Loman in Columbia Pictures's 1951 film version of the play, directed by Laslo Benedek, receiving his fifth, and final, Oscar nomination as well as a Golden Globe Award. March also played one of two leads in The Desperate Hours (1955) with Humphrey Bogart. Bogart and Spencer Tracy had both insisted upon top billing, and Tracy withdrew, leaving the part available for March. In 1957, March was awarded the George Eastman Award, given by George Eastman House for "distinguished contribution to the art of film".On February 12, 1959, March appeared before a joint session of the 86th United States Congress, reading the Gettysburg Address as part of a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.March co-starred with Spencer Tracy in the 1960 Stanley Kramer film Inherit the Wind, in which he played a dramatized version of famous orator and political figure William Jennings Bryan. March's Bible-thumping character provided a rival for Tracy's Clarence Darrow-inspired character. In the 1960s, March's film career continued with a performance as President Jordan Lyman in the political thriller Seven Days in May (1964), in which he co-starred with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Edmond O'Brien; the part earned March a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor. March made several spoken word recordings, including a version of Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant issued in 1945, in which he narrated and played the title role, and The Sounds of History, a twelve volume LP set accompanying the twelve volume set of books The Life History of the United States, published by Time-Life. The recordings were narrated by Charles Collingwood, with March and his wife Florence Eldridge performing dramatic readings from historical documents and literature. Following surgery for prostate cancer in 1970, it seemed his career was over; yet, he managed to give one last performance in The Iceman Cometh (1973), as the complicated Irish saloon keeper, Harry Hope.
March was married to actress Florence Eldridge from 1927 until his death in 1975, and they had two adopted children. He died from prostate cancer, at age 77, in Los Angeles, and was buried at his estate in New Milford, Connecticut. Throughout his life, he and his wife were supporters of the Democratic Party. In July 1936, March co-founded the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League (HANL), along with writers Dorothy Parker and Donald Ogden Stewart, director Fritz Lang, and composer Oscar Hammerstein. In 1938, March was one of many Hollywood personalities investigated by the House of Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) and the hunt for Communists in the film community. In July 1940, he was among a number of individuals questioned by a HUAC subcommittee led by Representative Martin Dies.
March was born in Racine, Wisconsin, the son of Cora Brown Marcher (1863–1936), a schoolteacher from England, and John F. Bickel (1859–1941), a devout Presbyterian Church elder who worked in the wholesale hardware business. March attended the Winslow Elementary School (established in 1855), Racine High School, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi. He was also a member of an "interfraternity society composed of leading students" formed at the college in 1919 named the Ku Klux Klan that "appears to have had no connection with the national Klan organization", but whose "choice of a name signals an identification—or at the very least, no meaningful discomfort—with the widely known violent actions of the Reconstruction-era Klan...".March served in the United States Army during World War I as an artillery lieutenant. He began a career as a banker, but an emergency appendectomy caused him to re-evaluate his life, and in 1920, he began working as an "extra" in movies made in New York City, using a shortened form of his mother's maiden name. He appeared on Broadway in 1926, and by the end of the decade, he signed a film contract with Paramount Pictures.
Movies & TV shows
A look at actresses who starred in films with thought-provoking subjects made between 1930 and July 1934, before the Hollywood Production Code —the infamous Hays Code— was enforced.
Myrna Loy: So Nice to Come Home To
This tribute to Myrna Loy is organized chronologically with a few photographs, many film clips, a handful of personal appearances, and a detailed commentary delivered on camera by Kathleen Turner. Tur...
The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn
In this tribute to her frequent co-star and longtime love, Katharine Hepburn hosts a behind-the-scenes look at Spencer Tracy's personal and professional life that features intimate personal accounts, ...
The Iceman Cometh
Set in 1912, inside a dive bar named The Last Chance Saloon, its destitute patrons eagerly await the arrival of Hickey, who arrives annually and props everyone up with free drinks and spirited stories...
The Condemned of Altona
A dying German magnate invites his youngest son and daughter-in-law home to discuss the future of the family's shipbuilding empire. There, the daughter-in-law stumbles upon a secret of the family's Na...
This biographical drama/part-time documentary, narrative written by Dr. Albert Schweitzer and spoken by Frederic March, traces the life of Dr. Schweitzer (with actors playing the characters), from his...
2 Movies · 1 TV show
The Tony Award for excellence in theatre is an award that recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. At an annual ceremony in New York City, the awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing...
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
The character study of a WWII veteran trying to make it in the business world of post-war America was interesting.
Alexander the Great
He was a fierce military commander who led huge armies into battle without a single defeat; a magnificent warrior who many believed was part god - this was Alexander the Great (Richard Burton), the le...
3 Movies · 1 TV show
When the head of a large manufacturing firm dies suddenly from a stroke, his vice-presidents vie to see who will replace him.
The Bridges at Toko-Ri
A naval aviator is assigned to bomb a group of heavily defended bridges during the Korean War.
Producers' Showcase is an American anthology television series that was telecast live during the 1950s in compatible color by NBC. With top talent, the 90-minute episodes, covering a wide variety of g...
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol was written in London by Charles Dickens in 1843. Since that time it has been the subject of countless adaptations for theatrical productions, radio, film, television, and even the o...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
The Academy Awards
The Academy Awards or The Oscars is an annual American awards ceremony honoring cinematic achievements in the film industry. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a statuette, officially ...
Man on a Tightrope
Elia Kazan's 1953 film stars Fredric March as the owner of an impoverished circus in Communist-ruled Czechoslovokia who plots to flee across the border to freedom, taking his entire troupe of performe...
1 TV show
It's a Big Country
Comprised of eight unrelated episodes of inconsistent quality, this anthology piece of American propaganda features some of MGM Studios' best directors, screenwriters and actors; it is narrated by Lou...
Death of a Salesman
Willy Loman is an aging salesman who was recently fired from his job. Dealing with feelings of failure, Willy begins to relive events from the past that involve his older son, Biff, and his wife, Lind...
1 Movie · 2 TV shows
What's My Line?
Panelists must ask only "yes" or "no" questions to determine guests' occupations, and in the case of famous guests, they must be blindfolded.
Lux Video Theatre
Lux Video Theatre is an American anthology series that was produced from 1950 until 1959. The series presented both comedy and drama in original teleplays, as well as abridged adaptations of films and...
The Titan: Story of Michelangelo
The life and works of the great artist Michelangelo Buonarroti are shown against the historical background of his time. It begins with his earliest artworks, and follows his life and career as he achi...
The Twentieth Century
A flamboyant Broadway impresario who has fallen on hard times tries to get his former lover, now a Hollywood diva, to return and resurrect his failing career.
Christopher Columbus overcomes intrigue at the Spanish court and convinces Queen Isabella that his plan to reach the East by sailing west is practical.
Another Part of the Forest
This 'prequel' to The Little Foxes tells how the ruthless members of the old-South Hubbard family got that way.
An Act of Murder
A judge commits suicide to save his dying wife. He decided to kill her by driving them off a cliff. He succeeds in ending her pain, but he ends up turning himself in with a full confession. It is up t...
The Best Years of Our Lives
It is the hope that sustains the spirit of every GI, the dream of the day when he will finally return home. The day has arrived for three World War II veterans. For each man, the dream is about to bec...
I Married a Witch
Rocksford, New England, was founded in 1672. The descendants of Puritan witch hunter Jonathan Wooley will never find happiness in their marriages, because he burned a witch at the stake. Wallace Woole...
One Foot in Heaven
The Episodic show looks at the life of a minister and his family as they move from one parish to another.
So Ends Our Night
An anti-Nazi on the run and a young Jewish couple race across Europe trying to escape Hitler's ever powerful influence.
A Braodway playwright wants to keep on writing plays for his wife to star in, but all she wants is to retire to Connecticut and, following a few 'worlds-apart" discussion of the issue, they get a divo...
A hermit's idyllic life on an island is disturbed by the arrival of a bunch of cutthroats.
Hollywood: Style Center of the World
This short promotes the premise that movies often create a demand for the fashions seen in them. It starts with a vignette in rural America. A mother and daughter go to town to buy a new dress. In the...
Susan and God
A wealthy woman neglects her family to promote a new religious group.
Cavalcade of the Academy Awards
This 1940 presentation features highlights of earlier (1928 onward) Oscar ceremonies including Shirley Temple and Walt Disney, plus acceptance speeches for films released in 1939 with recipients and p...
The 400 Million
The 400 million people of China are heirs to a great civilization, as their pagodas and stone lions can attest. But they are under attack from the Japanese. Civilian refugees walk, stumble, crawl to e...
There Goes My Heart
An heiress takes a job as a department store clerk.
After committing a murder, Kay assumes a new identity and boards a ship. But, Kay is unaware that Sam, a skirt chasing detective, is following her and must outwit him to escape imprisonment.
The War of 1812 began when a French pirate saved a girl.
When a small-town girl is diagnosed with a rare, deadly disease, an ambitious newspaper man turns her into a national heroine.
A Star Is Born
Esther Blodgett is just another farm kid trying to break into the movie business. After waitressing at a Hollywood party, she catches the eye of her hero Norman Maine, and is sent for a screen test, a...
The Making of a Great Motion Picture
Narrated documentary of the making of Anthony Adverse (1936), featuring many clips from the actual film.
Breakdowns of 1936
Time marches on.
The Road to Glory
The story of trench life during World War I through the lives of a French regiment. As men are killed and replaced jaunty Lt. Denet becomes more and more somber. His rival for the affection of nurse M...
Mary of Scotland
The recently widowed Mary Stuart returns to Scotland to reclaim her throne but is opposed by her half-brother and her own Scottish lords.
This expansive drama is based on the novel by Hervey Allen and follows the adventures of the eponymous hero, Anthony Adverse. Anthony was abandoned at a convent by his despicable nobleman father, Don ...
The Dark Angel
Gerald Shannon, Alan Trent, and Kitty Vane have been friends since they were children. Kitty has known for a long time that she would marry one of them, but she waited until the beginning of World War...
In 19th century Russia a woman in a respectable marriage to a doctor must grapple with her love for a dashing soldier.
In early nineteenth-century France Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who failed to report to parole, is relentlessly pursued over a twenty-year period by Javert, an obsessive policeman.
We Live Again
Nekhludoff, a Russian nobleman serving on a jury, discovers that the young girl on trial, Katusha, is someone he once seduced and abandoned and that he himself bears responsibility for reducing her to...
A chorus girl gets stranded in a small midwestern town. Against her better judgement, she hooks up with a smooth-talking con artist who says he can help her get out of town.
The Affairs of Cellini
Despite the duke, the 16th-century sculptor woos the Duchess of Florence.
The Barretts of Wimpole Street
Elizabeth's father has forbidden her family from marrying each other. Nevertheless, Elizabeth is in love with Robert Browning.
Death Takes a Holiday
After years of questioning why people fear him, Death takes on human form so he can mingle among the mortals and find an answer. However, events soon spiral out of control as he falls in love with the...
All of Me
A professor tires of the direction his life is going and wants to move west, but his girlfriend doesn't understand why he is so dissatisfied.
The Eagle and the Hawk
The pilots of a Royal Air Force squadron in World War I face not only physical but mental dangers in their struggle to survive while fighting the enemy.
Design for Living
An independent woman can't chose between the two men she loves.
Tonight Is Ours
A princess is torn between her royal obligations and her love for a handsome Frenchman.
Make Me a Star
A grocery clerk dreams of becoming a cowboy actor and goes to Hollywood in search of fame and fortune. His acting abilities are non-existent.
Strangers in Love
Fredric March essays a dual role in this story of a ne'er-do-well who impersonates his brother when the latter dies.
Thirty years ago, John lead a solitary life after the death of Moonyeen Clare. Owens, a close friend, insists that he care for his niece, Kathleen, who was orphans when her parents were lost at sea. K...
Merrily We Go to Hell
A drunken newspaperman, Jerry Corbett, is rescued from his alcoholic haze by an heiress, Joan Prentice, whose love sobers him up and encourages him to write a play, but he lapses back into dipsomania....
The Sign of the Cross
After burning Rome, Emperor Nero decides to blame the Christians, and issues the edict that they are all to be caught and sent to the arena. Two old Christians are caught, and about to be hauled off, ...
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Dr. is based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson. There are two different sides to the man, according to Henry Jekyll. He believes that man can become liberated if he separates the two. He succeeds...
The Night Angel
In this crime drama, a Prague DA must close down a house of prostitution masquerading as a cafe. He sends the owner's daughter to a nurse's home until her mother is released. When the happy day comes,...
Honor Among Lovers
Jerry Stafford falls for his secretary, Julia Traynor, but instead she marries a shady character who causes trouble for both of them.
A prostitute living in Panama shoots her pimp and is charged with murder. The lawyer who gets her off fronts her money to start a new life in NY where she becomes a successful business woman and meets...
Paramount on Parade
This 1930 film, a collection of songs and sketches showcasing Paramount Studios' contract stars, credits 11 directors (including Dorothy Arzner, Ernst Lubitsch, Victor Schertzinger and Edmund Goulding...
Ladies Love Brutes
The movie stars George Bancroft, Mary Astor and Fredric March who are all excellent in their roles. The story begins as Joe Forziati (Bancroft), an Italian immigrant who has battled his way to success...
A spoiled young rich girl is sent to prison for accidentally running down a pedestrian. There she learns about a life and people she had never even imagined existed before.
The beauty of the Follies is married to a man older than she is. Morton Gibson was named after him. She refuses the attentions of her long-time friend, the volatile sculptor, because she is tired of t...
Sarah and Son
A ne'er-do-well husband, after years of abusing his wife, disappears with their son, and winds up selling him to a wealthy family. Years later, the wife, now a world-famous opera singer, finally has e...
True to the Navy
Ruby is a counter girl at the San Diego Soda Shop with a habit of being a girlfriend to Sailors stopping by. Things get a little zany when she sets her eyes on Bull's Eye McCoy a gunner who refuses to...
The Royal Family of Broadway
Julie Cavendish comes from a family of great Broadway actors. Her mother Fanny staunchly continues acting. Her boisterous brother Tony is fleeing a breach of promise suit in Hollywood. Her daughter Gw...
The Studio Murder Mystery
Philandering actor Richard Hardell is murdered at a movie studio. His jealous wife Blanche, his director Rupert Borka, and a girl he mistreated, Helen MacDonald, all have substantial reasons for havin...
Jim Hutton and Mary Archer are two liberals who are content to remain faithful to each other in spirit only. They are married with all the ritual of a church wedding, the bride believing that each sho...
Footlights and Fools
Moore plays the "dual" role of a French singer in America who was originally an American chorus girl in France to acquire a new persona.
The Marriage Playground
A delightful pre-code cocktail recipe. Take three couples (add gin and tonic), their several divorces and the seven children/stepchildren of their intermarriages and blend thoroughly, and you have a m...
The Wild Party
Wild girls at a college pay more attention to parties than their classes. But when one party girl, Stella Ames, goes too far at a local bar and gets in trouble, her professor has to rescue her. Gossip...
Dr. Muller, a friend to all, finds pleasure in turning the goodness in people to evil ends. He meets Marie Matin and her fiancée, Georges Roben, while viewing a new painting, "The Martyr--Truth Crucif...
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Fredric_March", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.