[Links to websites I like appear at the bottom of this page!]
“[As Kay Francis told me] that her Hollywood career was long behind her, that she still had unpleasant memories of leaving Warner Bros. in the late 1930’s, and that she was puzzled about why a person of my young years could possibly be interested in her past professional accomplishments,” James Robert Parish, The Complete Kay Francis Career Guide, 2008. And that was in the 1960’s…imagine what she would think if she knew about her popularity today!
My own admiration of Kay Francis inspired this massive website for one of the biggest film stars of the 1930’s. I don’t even think I even heard her name until January 2006, when Turner Classic Movies did a promotional broadcast with a few of Kay’s films when Scott O’Brien’s Kay Francis: I Can’t Wait to be Forgotten was first being published. Strangely enough, I didn’t even to get to watch any complete movie of hers that night; all I had the opportunity to see was the final scene in Confession (1937), with the ghost image of Kay embracing Jane Bryan, then turning her back and walking down the corridor with that wonderful soundtrack creating an unforgettable screen exit.
That was enough to spark my interest.
When I was still working on the idea of a massive website for Norma Shearer, my personal favorite movie star, I decided to throw on a few of my other favorites as well. Even though I hadn’t even seen one of her films, that finale to Confession was enough for me to throw Kay’s name up there as well.
It wasn’t until I was posting some messages in a Joan Crawford message board when I threw Kay’s name out in one of my posts. I got an email from Carolyn, a Kay Francis nut who was willing to send me some of Kay’s movies for free: Girls About Town (1931), Secrets of an Actress (1938), My Bill (1938), Allotment Wives (1946), A Notorious Affair (1930), and, of course, Confession (1937). She has subsequently sent me many of Kay’s best movies, I am grateful for her loyalty not only to myself, but to Kay’s legacy as well.
When I got an extra copy of Lynn Kear’s and John Rossman’s Kay Francis: A Passionate Life and Career, I knew I had to send it to her.
Unfortunately, I decided to withdraw my online project for Norma Shearer [it just didn’t work out, I don’t know why, but I still greatly admire her], but keep my small site for Kay Francis up. When I got bored with the size of it, I decided to revamp the whole project and really make it special. The books by Lynn Kear, John Rossman, and Scott O’Brien are the core for the information on this website. I am grateful for their dedication with their own projects, which are the core existence of mine.
Other authors, such as Roger Bryant, Jeanne Basinger, Mick LaSalle, and Mark A. Vieira, also provided me with excellent sources of information. [See the bibliography below for more information on this website’s sources.]
Also, I wanted to throw a shout out to Turner Classic Movies, whose hyping of Kay as their “Star of the Month” for September, 2008, really made me get my ass in gear. Now I had no excuse to not make this website what it is, I had the movies, I had the books, I had the laptop, it was time to stop bullshitting around and get going on making a place for Kay Francis fans to gather online.
Below is a bibliography of the sources used to pull this website together. All of the material on this site, unless otherwise noted, has been written by me, using the following publications:
Basinger, Jeanne. A Woman’s View. Wesleyan University Press, 1993.
Bryant, Roger. William Powell: The Life and Films. McFarland, 2006.
LaSalle, Mick. Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood. St. Martin’s, 2000.
Kear, Lynn & John Rossman. Kay Francis: A Passionate Life and Career. McFarland, 2005.
—. The Complete Kay Francis Career Record. McFarland, 2008.
O’Brien, Scott. Kay Francis: I Can’t Wait to be Forgotten. BearManor Media, 2005.
Vieira, Mark A. Sin in Soft Focus: Pre-Code Hollywood. Harry N. Abrams, 1997.
—Michael Ohanlon, December 2009
Introduction by Lynn Kear…
One of the most fascinating women who ever worked in Hollywood was Kay Francis. Researching her life and career produced many surprises. Perhaps most intriguing, she was an intensely private person who also kept an unbelievably scandalous diary. The woman who claimed she only wished to be forgotten did everything she could to make sure she wasn’t.
Even without the diary it’s unlikely Kay would have been forgotten. Devoted fans and more recently Turner Classic Movies have ensured that many of her films are still available.
New fans every year learn that in addition to being a captivating personality Kay was also a talent. She could play comedy and drama, and her best work remains charming and compelling.
Interestingly, although she had no children some of her best performances were of mothers. Who can forget her as the tormented mother in such films as The House on 56th Street or Confession? Or the well-meaning yet murderous mother in Alottment Wives? Other unforgettable performances include the doomed young woman in One Way Passage and Madame Colet in Ernst Lubitsch’s masterpiece Trouble in Paradise.
Michael Ohanlon has spent years researching Kay’s film roles. This unique website is an homage and a resource. He is to be commended. Long live Kay!
Author of Kay Francis: A Passionate Life and Career
and The Complete Kay Francis Career Record
Links to other Kay sites:
Links to sites I like:
*Following the Fair Use Clause of Section 107 of the amended Copyright Act of 1976 (17 USC Section 107), images on this site are used for a non-profit use only. The placement of photographs on this site is strictly for the educational use regarding the career of Katharine Edwina Gibbs, professionally known as Kay Francis.
Watermarked photos on this site are used for non-profit use. Any violation of copyright laws from the sources the images on this site originate are strictly between the two parties. If the owners of any copyrighted material feel that images are being wrongfully used, please email me.