5 Years of Kay Francis’ Life & Career

Reflecting on 5 years of Kay Francis Films…

kayfrancis508When I was switching hosts back in late November, 2014, I reread my original writing for the “About” page, and I found much of what I originally wrote still is adequate today, but I think I have a bit more to say…

It wasn’t just about Kay Francis. I wanted to build a collection for people to learn about an “old movie star” who isn’t on everyone’s lips. I wanted to find someone who could properly showcase everything the studio system in the Golden Age of Hollywood represented. To show its pros and cons; to show what made it magnificent and terrible all at the same time. Kay Francis couldn’t have been a better choice.

Kay Francis was selected for superstardom by Warner Bros., and successfully emerged as one of the most important figures in the entire movie industry of her time. Then, for one reason or another, Warner Bros. set out to destroy her career (as reviews of her later films from the time confirm). I do not look at Kay Francis as Hollywood’s ultimate victim—I see her more as the best example of how stars were created and destroyed by the studios who literally “owned” them.

Actors and actresses of that time—unless they freelanced, which was rare—were signed by contracts in which they had no say in what films they made. When the studio found a formula that worked, every movie a star made followed that formula until the public became weary of it. If an actress of that time lasted 5 years at the top, she had had a good run. If she lasted 10 years on top, that was something to be proud of. Anything longer was practically unheard of.

Kay fits the 5-years at the top category. While she first began leading roles at Paramount in 1930, it wasn’t until 1932 when she signed with Warner Bros. she became a superstar. This lasted through 1937. By 1939 her career was virtually finished (though she barely hung on for another decade). Her falling out with Warner Bros.—their demotion of her to B pictures to promote Bette Davis for a much smaller salary—is well documented on this website. I do not need to go into that here.

When my serious admiration for old movies first began around 2004 (I was a young teen at the time), there wasn’t a lot of social media out there (maybe Xanga, LiveJournal, prehistoric MySpace). In the early 2000s, actual old movie star websites were the norm. Some crappy, yes, but others were excellent with an ample amount of information for a young fan to learn from. As social media began to rise those websites faded into online profiles with a ton of great photos but little information otherwise.

I wanted to run a website where people can learn anything at any time. An outlet where the information is accessible, and isn’t lost as new posts are published.

Today, five years after Kay Francis’ Life and Career debuted, I am extremely proud of keeping this website for fans not only of Kay Francis, but old Hollywood and film as a whole medium to have quick access to for anything they want to know about her. With the encyclopedia and all of my other information on here, there is more than enough to learn about other stars who also knew or worked with Kay, too.

While I may not possess the strongest writing skills, I still continue to offer a detailed biography, chronology, and now an encyclopedia to expand upon for more information of Kay Francis to be gathered & used by anyone interested. And, of course, the film pages offer a ton of information about her film work, as do the pages for her stage and television work as well.

kayfrancis5108The huge collection of photographs on this website—easily the largest gallery for Kay Francis—is a great opportunity for fans and industry people to use for inspiration and knowledge of the publicity from movie making many, many years ago.

Some say it’s better. I just think it’s different.

I wanted to say thank you to all of the individuals who have emailed me over the years congratulating me on my work here, and offering pieces of information to include. It inspires me to continue working on maintaining the legacy for this exotic film star who insisted she wanted to be forgotten, but appears to be anything but.

Michael O’Hanlon,
February 16, 2015