Welcome to Kay Francis’
Life & Career…
May 15, 2015:
I’ll be away from home next week, so do not expect any site updates until May 24th or after.
I am very pleased with the way the archives feature is turning out. I think it’s becoming one of my favorite things to scroll through when I’m just browsing this site as a reader. I also like the Books page, and I have to look for more text copies soon. It’s very interesting to read what professional writers have to say about Kay, but I think the archives are more compelling because they were done during her time. They reveal much about her true star status, and how she was interpreted during her heyday at Warner Bros.
After her falling out with them, I find very little about her. The B movies she made at Warner Bros. definitely were not advertised to capacity. Some of her freelance work was, but not the Monogram films. And it appears that after 1939 the magazines had largely forgotten about Kay, sans a few mentions and photos here and there.
May 12, 2015:
CANDID: Added three photos from a 1939 gathering Kay attended with Bette Davis, Basil Rathbone, Adrian and Janet Gaynor.
Tomorrow, in the early morning hours, Turner Classic Movies will play One Way Passage. Check your local listings. It’s widely recognized as the best movie Kay ever appeared in.
May 8, 2015:
ARCHIVES: Added three lengthy articles to this feature. Two are from 1938 issues of Screenland magazine: “Kay and Pat Are Like That!” & “Are These Stars Really Doomed?” (which I paraphrased to focus specifically on Kay). The third is from the March 1937 issue of Silver Screen. “Projections” details Kay’s importance as the Queen of Warner Bros., and how she took that position.
CLIPPINGS: Added a 1932 one from an issue of Screenland with fashion tips from Kay, Claudette Colbert, and Bette Davis.
May 5, 2015:
Went back to Kay’s peak of stardom for today’s updates.
Ads: Added a 1937 clipping from Screenland Magazine asking fans, “if you had to choose a King or Queen in Hollywood, who would it be?” Kay is in the center with Joan Crawford.
April 26, 2015:
Ads: Added a 1931 ad announcing upcoming Kay Francis’ career at Warner Bros.
CANDID: Added two 1935 photos of Kay with Carole Lombard (one has other friends in it). Also included a photo of Kay from May 1951 when she accepted an award for the most cooperative actress in summer theater. (Basil Rathbone won the award for most cooperative actor.)
FILMS: It’s ALL about Kay’s Paramount movies here. Added an ad for The Marriage Playground bearing the film’s original title, “The Children” (1929). Added an ad for Street of Chance (1930); one for The Vice Squad (1931); two photos, a spread, and an ad for Girls About Town; a photo and an ad for The False Madonna. Added a picture for Strangers in Love (1932) as well as one for Trouble in Paradise (1932).
April 22, 2015:
FILMS: Today it’s all about Kay’s freelance work. I added three advertisements for In Name Only (1939) from the Motion Picture Herald. The last two do not have images, but they’re pretty influential so I wanted to add them. I added three photos to The Man Who Lost Himself (1941) and an ad. There’s two new pictures of ads from the Motion Picture Herald for Charley’s Aunt. Lastly, for Always in My Heart (1942) I added a photo of Kay and Walter Huston along with an ad.
I haven’t seen Always in My Heart since 2009. I am in the process of watching many of Kay’s movies again, just to refresh myself with them. On the cusp of turning 25 soon, I’m reading some of my writing from back when I was 19 and beginning to cringe because I have no idea what I’m talking about!
Kay deserves a little bit better.
April 18, 2015
ARCHIVES: Added a very interesting article written mostly by Kay, “What Hollywood Has Given Me–What It Has Taken From Me.” This originally appeared in the March 1934 issue of Picture Play.
FINALLY got a review up for Wonder Bar, so check it out.
MISC. INFO: Added two VERY interesting images. One shows the 1937 & 1936 salaries for the Warner Bros. employees (compare Kay’s to everyone else’s); and a shot of her winning a fashion award from the New York Fashion Academy.
PORTRAITS: Added eight portraits between the years of 1931-1937.
April 11, 2015
ART: Added a shot by Thos Bodley that appeared in the Motion Picture Herald in 1933 (so it’s black & white).
CANDID: Added two shots from costume parties (one with hubby Kenneth MacKenna) and one ‘other’ candid photo with famous friends on the Stolen Holiday set.
FILMS: Added a thespian shot from I Found Stella Parish (1935), spreads and photos to the pages for Stolen Holiday, Another Dawn, Confession, and First Lady. All of the images appeared in the 1937 issues of Picture Play.
THEATER MARQUEES: Added a 1935 shot in front of the Strand theater advertising Stranded.
April 7, 2015
ART: Added a 1934 photo with information of George K. Holt and work he did of Kay for Dr. Monica.
THEATERS: Added three images advertising Trouble in Paradise, Wonder Bar, and Give Me Your Heart, respectively.
April 5, 2015
CLIPPINGS: Added a 1933 Warner Bros. spread for the summer of 1933 featuring upcoming films, including Mary Stevens, M.D.
FILMS: Added a shot of Kay from Street of Women (1932); four photos of her from Jewel Robbery, and a magazine spread; a spread for Trouble in Paradise; two shots from The Keyhole (1933), one of which was taken on her birthday; added a German ad for Storm at Daybreak, which is actually on TCM tomorrow.
April 02, 2015
ENCYCLOPEDIA Page Y: Finally found a poster for Youth Has Its Fling (1929), a movie Kay Francis worked on with Jean Hersholt and Fay Wray before production was scrapped and the film was never completed.
FILMS: Added a photo and an ad for Gentlemen of the Press (1929); a huge trade ad for The Cocoanuts; a poster for Behind the Make-Up (1930); a photo of Kay on the set of Scandal Sheet (1931); a picture & review of Girls About Town (at the bottom of the page); a picture of Kay & Ricardo Cortez in Transgression. For Strangers in Love (1932) I found three ads, one of which beholds the original title, Intimate.
Added several Warner Bros. advertisements here.
March 30, 2015
FILMS: Added a photo of Kay stealing jewelry from The Cocoanuts (1929) and a poster; one of Kay and Bill Powell from For the Defense (1930); a review (with picture) and publicity shot from Street of Chance; one posing statuesque from Raffles; three for Passion Flower.
PORTRAITS: Added five shots to the 1930 year on that page.
I can’t exactly control how the web generator crops the images for a thumbnail, so sometimes it seems to decapitate Kay in the process!
When I was first introduced to Kay Francis in 2006 or so, the short hair was almost intimidating. I thought it was too harsh. Now, I think it complimented her looks and the characters she played in her early movies generously.
March 24, 2015
Clippings: Added two ads for Max Factor cosmetics.
FILMS: Added a picture of Kay and Pat O’Brien on the set of Women Are Like That (1938) and another with Ed Sullivan, one from Secrets of An Actress (1938), one from Women in the Wind (1939) and three for the In Name Only (1939) page.
A bit mind-boggling that this site is coming close to cracking 6,000 views for the month of March alone.
Not so forgotten after all, huh?
March 20, 2015
FILMS: Give Me Your Heart (1936) is the focus of today, mainly because I found a bunch of large scanned film advertisements. Look for them at the bottom of the page. I also added posters for a 1937 re-release of One Way Passage (1932).
TELEVISION: Added a bunch of showings on TCM of Kay for the month of May & June (apparently someone over there must have read what I wrote on the site a month ago, ha!).
Hope you all enjoy the spring season, as it’s snowing here in the East on the very first day!
March 19, 2015
Candid Photos: Added seven pictures; photos of Kay with people like Delmer Daves, Kenneth MacKenna, Jack Warner, a Yosemite picture, and one with Fredric March and his wife.
Clippings: Added a 1931 advertisement of the Warner Bros. movie season.
Films: Added a photo of Kay on the ship in Mandalay (1934); one with Leslie Howard and one yielding a hand-held gun in British Agent (1934); three fashion stills for Stolen Holiday (1937); one with Errol Flynn and one glam shot for Another Dawn (1937); one on the set photo from Confession (1937) and a film ad for the release; two magazine shots for First Lady (1937) and a November 1937 Photoplay review.
I think I’m going to begin to dissolve the page for clippings and make it just one for strictly advertising. I believe—now with the archives & thanks to a source from Kay biographer Scott O’Brien—it’s a defeated purpose. The photos can be added to other pages, there’s no need to have them there. As I type up more and more transcripts from magazines, there’s not much left besides ads.
Recently saw a photo of Joan Crawford on a staircase taken in her penthouse apartment in 1958 (you know, the one that left her broke when Steele died). It was the same exact photo of Kay on the staircase in Mandalay (1934), which Crawford was clearly replicating with the long-flashy gown and full-length feathered scarf. There’s no way Crawford posed for that picture without having the image of Kay in her mind.
So I attached the Mandalay picture and the person who posted it (who believes JC to be the end-all, be-all of Hollywood, & that anyone who came before or since never has and never will match what Crawford achieved…), and got a sly comment, “The difference is Joan was photographed on her own penthouse apartment staircase in 1958. Where was Kay in 1958? (Ouch.)”
So many responses came to my mind…The first mainly being that Kay was clearly still on JC’s mind in 1958. I never wanted to be one of those who tear down the accomplishments that others achieved to build Kay Francis. I wouldn’t do that for anyone. If the person truly is a legend, there’s no need to.
I can’t think of too many films Crawford appeared in after Possessed (1947) that Kay would have thought, “damn, I wish I would have made that.”
March 17, 2015
FILMS: Added a photo of Bill Powell & Kay to Jewel Robbery (1932). Added three stills for One Way Passage (1932). A picture lying on the bed in Cynara (1932). A photo of Kay & George Brent to The Keyhole (1933). One picture from I Loved a Woman (1933) & The House on 56th Street (1933).
Happy St. Patrick’s Day
March 15, 2015
FILMS: Added a ton of stuff here. Added a clipping and picture for Street of Chance (1930); a picture with Billie Dove & Basil Rathbone in A Notorious Affair (1930); two photos for Raffles (1930); a photo to Ladies’ Man (1931); an ad for 24 Hours (1931); an ad & two pictures for Girls About Town (1931); and a photo for Strangers in Love (1932).
PORTRAITS: More photos from Kay’s session as Cleopatra (1930), and four other photos stretched between the 1929-1931 years.
March 13, 2015
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The Kay Francis Archives has debuted as the latest site feature!
Inspired by last week’s addition of the famous I Can’t Wait to Be Forgotten article, I decided that I had no reason NOT to gather articles from newspaper databases which are available online free of charge. I went through and so far I have several articles, mostly from The Chicago Tribune and the Daily Illini.
I will be getting more up soon, but for the time being here is a nice start for you all to enjoy.
If you have any articles regarding Kay you’d like to contribute, please email me.
March 10, 2015
TOBACCO CARDS: Added five cards, two from the early 1930/1931 era, three from the 1937-1942 era.
I was most excited to see SOMETHING from Gentlemen of the Press turn up. I had virtually nothing except for the one poster which has been on this site since the initial debut in 2010—always great to find something. It adds to the puzzle. It helps piece together more media for Kay Francis fans to come back here to view something ‘new’.
My friend Sue told me, “I can’t think of anyone more deserving for a site like this than Kay Francis… the other major actresses of the time, they’re all over the place. Kay Francis isn’t a name on everybody’s lips. She was so gracious and so beautiful. I get tired of looking at Joan Crawford’s face. It’s too harsh. I don’t think Kay Francis could take a bad picture.”
No, I don’t think she could, either!
March 08, 2015
PORTRAITS: Added a 1945 shot of Kay from her Monogram years (at left).
BOOKS: Added two new entries–Clark Gable: Tormented Star & Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice.
DO NOT FORGET! Tomorrow morning, on Turner Classic Movies, Mary Stevens, M.D. will be playing! (Check your local listings!)
March 07, 2015
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: I have finally typed up the complete article which has become Kay Francis’ most quoted interview: “I CAN’T WAIT TO BE FORGOTTEN: Kay Francis Looks Ahead,” by S.R. Mook.
This article was completed from an interview done on Kay’s last day at Warner Bros., September 28, 1938, and published in the March 1939 issue of Photoplay. This was done on the set of Women in the Wind, the last movie under her contract.
The importance of this article comes from the title quote, which is probably the most famous line associated with Kay Francis, as well as being the source for the 2006 biography Scott O’Brien published, Kay Francis: I Can’t Wait to be Forgotten.
I hope you all enjoy this, as it truly was a rare find!
March 06, 2015
BOOKS: Added two more entries for books which make reference to Kay: The Casablanca Man: The Cinema of Michael Curtiz by James C. Robertson & Goldwyn: A Biography by A. Scott Berg.
FILMS: Added photos to Kay’s pre-Monogram freelance years: two for In Name Only (1939, thanks Aliya for the shot of Kay with Lombard’s paper dolls), one glam shot for It’s a Date (1940), three for The Man Who Lost Himself (1941), and one for Between Us Girls (1942).
Personally, I think the Books page for the website is one my favorite features. It provides a full-circle view of not just the Kay Francis aspect of the films she worked on, but everyone else involved as well.
The other week I was exchanging emails with James Robert Parish (author of several books which make reference to Kay). He mentioned that he felt Kay fared worse than other stars when in a dud with unimaginative direction, a weak script, and/or an inadequate leading man. I have to agree. There are certain films she appeared in–even at the height of her career–which are almost un-watchable because there’re so bad.
In terms of her freelance films, I think Between Us Girls is the worst of them all, but an excellent example is British Agent for her peak years. Everything is there besides an intriguing script. Production values, action scenes, camerawork, excellent acting by the cast, but the script is just very weak it casts a shadow over the entire film.
There are certain movies that other stars made which have similar issues: Joan Crawford in The Bride Wore Red (1937), Garbo in Conquest (1937), Jeanette MacDonald in I Married An Angel (1942), Norma Shearer in her final two films, We Were Dancing & Her Cardboard Lover (both 1942).
It just seems as if Kay had more weak films than other stars. But ask a film buff to name a Bette Davis movie made in-between Of Human Bondage (1934) & Jezebel (1938) and most will draw a blank. I think a lot of it had to do with script issues at Warner Bros. Though it’s fascinating to realize how unsuccessful Katharine Hepburn was at RKO for the majority of her contract as well.
March 05, 2015
PORTRAITS: It’s all about the portraits today. I added 10. One for 1929, 4 for 1930, 2 for 1932, 2 for 1935, and 1 for 1937.
BOOKS: Revamped the page & added entries for SIX books which reference Kay: Bogie: A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart by Richard Schicke; Cary Grant: A Biography by Marc Eliot; Errol Flynn: The Life and Career by Thomas McNulty; Forever Mame: The Life of Rosalind Russell by Bernard F. Dick; My Wicked, Wicked Ways by Errol Flynn; Warner Bros.: Hollywood’s Ultimate Backlot by Steven Binge.
I came across a new source for photos (well, ANOTHER new source). I have a ton saved on my computer, but I like to add them slowly. I’d rather have a large amount on the back-burner so I can keep with the updates. I know I’m only 24, if I continue this site for the rest of my life (which, as cheesy as it sounds, I don’t see why I couldn’t), I know there will be a time when eventually “new” photos of Kay will be few and far between.
What DOES prolong the gathering of online images, is that she made 68 movies. Photos for many of them, especially her Paramount & freelance ones, seem to be the most rare. Why? I don’t know. I think it’s because the actual films are so forgotten because they’re never shown on television.
When I go back and read some of the reviews I put, it’s funny because I think, “Michael, what in the hell are you talking about?” I was barely 18 when I began reviewing her movies. Some of them I’m interested in going back and re-reviewing them. Last night I watched I Loved a Woman (1933) again. I found it pretty dreary and dull after awhile. When I initially reviewed it, I seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.
Time changes things, I suppose.
February 27, 2015
FILMS: Added a few photographs for the years when Kay was at her peak @ Warner Bros. I added three photos and a glass theater slide for Mandalay (1934). Added a photo of Kay and Verree Teasdale from Dr. Monica (1934). I added a photo of Kay applying makeup from I Found Stella Parish (1935). Three photos of Kay from Give Me Your Heart (1936). Added two photos of Kay from Stolen Holiday (1937). Added two photos, one of which is at the left, of Kay from First Lady (1937).
TELEVISION: Added two showings on TCM in May, Man Wanted & Always in My Heart.
Like many, yes, I have noticed a slimming down of Kay Francis films being shown on TCM. But I think this half of the year they’re a bit busy spotlighting other things, such as “31 Days of Oscar”–though I did feel they could have done a birthday tribute for her, considering January 13, 2015 would have been Kay’s 110th birthday. In May they usually do a spotlight on minority images in film.
We’ll see what happens.
2015 is still young, so let’s hope for maybe a Kay Francis day on “Summer Under the Stars” in August, or the other 6 months of the year where she could actually be their “Star of the Month.”
But they are a major network. Like any network, they need viewers. Showing more rare films with stars like Kay DOES alienate some of their viewers. But showing a little less of her, and more of other stars & their films, helps expose people to Kay Francis who would never know her otherwise.
There’s just a lot that goes into it.
I was just emailing with someone, and, it’s funny, I was telling them the irony of when I chose Kay as the movie star to make a website for, and how bizarre it was that all of a sudden TCM made her their “Star of the Month” in September 2008. This gave me NO excuse to miss out on recording a massive amount of her movies from TV.
It’s almost as if Kay pulled a few strings on the other side to set the whole thing up. If you believe in that sort of stuff.
Sometimes, I do.
February 23, 2015
MAGAZINES: Four covers added. One for Cine Mundial in 1936, two for Film Pictorial (both 1935), one for a 1938 Asian film magazine, Stage & Screen.
CLIPPINGS: Added a 1931 clipping with Lilyan Tashman & a 1932 clipping for Strangers in Love.
FILMS: Added a photo of the cast of Strangers in Love (1932)
Added two photos and two German Ads for One Way Passage (1932)
Added a picture of Kay aging Hollywood-style in The House on 56th Street (1933).
February 19, 2015
More pictures from the Paramount years:
One from Behind the Make-Up with Hal Skelly (1930)
A fashion still for A Notorious Affair (1930)
Four portraits for The Virtuous Sin (1930)
A poster for Passion Flower (1930)
A German ad for 24 Hours (1931)
For the Portraits:
Two for 1930 featuring Kay as Cleopatra.
Four for 1931 by Otto Dyar.
For the Art Gallery:
Added a c. 1936 caricature by Sotero.
Created a gallery for candid photos of Kay Francis, click here.
February 15, 2015
Found a new outlet for photos. As a result, I found some very interesting shots of Kay to add to the site.
Added two clippings from 1930. One with William Powell, the other explaining her rise from unknown stage actress to film star in merely a year.
February 12, 2015
I almost dated the year as 1913 on this update… I have no idea why. That would have been funny if I missed it.
I added 10 photos to the Portraits page.
I also created a new page for the gallery: Theater Marquees. Go to view photos of Kay’s name headlining a theater.
Click here to read a 2012 Glamamor article regarding Kay Francis’ importance on today’s fashion styles.
February 10, 2015:
Added three photos for Kay’s early freelance period:
Also added a clipping for 1935 comparing Kay’s eyebrow technique to Bette Davis’ use of lipstick
February 07, 2015:
Added some gorgeous photos of Kay during her peak years as the Queen of Warner Bros.:
One of her playing the piano in Mandalay (1934)
An autographed publicity shot in her white trench coat for The Goose and the Gander (1935)
The stunning close-up publicity for Give Me Your Heart (1936)
On the set of Stolen Holiday (1937)
Two photos for Another Dawn (1937), including a fashion still and one with Perc Westmore
Two photos for First Lady (1937)
Please the Misc. Page to view a check from Kay’s personal estate and a letter to a man named Paul.
February 4, 2015:
Added a ton of European posters to the film pages:
Guilty Hands (1931)
Jewel Robbery (1932)
The House on 56th Street (1933)
Living on Velvet (1935)
The Goose and the Gander (1935)
I Found Stella Parish (1935)
Also updated the TV PAGE for TCM showings of Kay Francis movies in March & April (none for February).
On Instagram? I recently made mine a public account for old movies/movie stars (including Kay Francis, of course). So follow me: @mikefrom_kayfrancisfilms
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