Douglas Fairbanks, J.R. ♦ The False Madonna ♦ Glenda Farrell ♦ Alice Faye ♦ Charles K. Feldman ♦ The Feminine Touch ♦ Films in Review ♦ First Lady ♦ Errol Flynn ♦ For the Defense ♦ Willi Forst ♦ 42 Street ♦ Four Jills in a Jeep ♦ Frances Langford – Don Ameche Show ♦ James Dwight Francis
Fairbanks, Douglas Jr. (December 9, 1909 – May 7, 2000) Along with his then-wife, Joan Crawford, Fairbanks and Kay were social pals in the early 1930s. Fairbanks remembered Kay fondly in his autobiography, saying, “I never had the privilege of working with Miss Francis in a film. I knew Kay and Kenneth socially in the early ‘30s. Kay was lovely and very popular. She brightened many social occasions with her sparkling charm and wit. I don’t think she ever warmed up to Hollywood. I think of her as a true bon vivant.”
Fairbanks said his favorite movie of Kay’s was 1934’s British Agent.
Kay’s diary made a few more mentions of social interactions with Fairbanks, who divorced Crawford in 1933. She only made one more note in her diary of interaction with Crawford. When Ginger Rodgers held a roller-skating party on March 6, 1937 Kay noted of how dull the party was, spending the time talking with Crawford and her then-husband Franchot Tone.
False Madonna, The. Paramount, 1931. Directed by Stuart Walker, the same Stuart Walker who Kay toured with in 1926 on the stage. Kay is miscast as an unwilling woman among corrupt individuals. The film was released in England as The False Idol. This was her last film under contract to Paramount.
Farrell, Glenda. Very humorous character actress at Warner Bros. who appeared with Kay in 1933’s The Keyhole & Mary Stevens, M.D. She later used Kay’s star power at Warner Bros. to explain how the studio rotated the stars between leading, featured, and bit parts. “So you weren’t Kay Francis,” she claimed, “You were still well-paid and you didn’t get a star complex.”
Faye, Alice. This blonde beauty has a cameo appearance in 1944’s Four Jills in a Jeep.
Feldman, Charles K. (April 26, 1904 – May 25, 1968) Famous Hollywood producer who Kay had slept with, noting in her diary on May 1, 1940, “Slept with him and he may be the best of them all! Christ, I am a slut.” (That’s “the best” on a long, long list of men..)
Feminine Touch, The. MGM, 1941. Directed by Major W.S. Van Dyke. Produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The film stars Rosalind Russell, Don Ameche, Kay, and Van Heflin. The film contains the famous scene where Kay and Russell get into a physical brawl.
Films in Review. This small industry magazine contained a piece on Kay in their 1964 issue written by James Robert Parish & Gene Ringgold. The article, “Kay Francis’ Complete Career”, was the first major article written about Kay’s career in retrospect.
First Lady. Warner Bros, 1937. Directed by Stanley Logan. Based on the play by George S. Kaufman. Originally purchased for Norma Shearer to make on loan-out from MGM. The film stars Kay with Preston Foster, Verree Teasdale, and Victory Jory. About two women in competition to become the Nation’s First Lady, the film was the box office failure which led to Kay’s demise as the top female star at the studio.
Of the failure of the film, Kay later said, “The fans expect sincerity from me, a certain warmth and ‘sympatica.’ And if they don’t get it they howl. They didn’t like me in First Lady worth a cent. They told me so, by the hundreds.” (PL)
Flynn, Errol. Kay’s handsome costar in 1937’s Another Dawn. When the film became one of Warner Bros.’ most profitable of the year, plans were made to reteam them in The Sisters (1938, which was made with Bette Davis) and All Rights Reserved (which was apparently never made). Of his good-looks, Kay said, “He’s grand. That boy hasn’t one camera angle that isn’t perfect. It’s quite appalling!” (BF)
For the Defense. Paramount, 1930. Directed by John Cromwell. The third paring of Kay and William Powell. In a letter dated February 3, 1931 (a year after the release of the film), David O. Selznick wrote to Paramount executive B.P. Schulberg that he “suggested and planned and supervised” both For the Defense and Street of Chance for Powell and Kay. Selznick stood by his claims that it was he who made both Kay Francis and William Powell popular named for 1930s moviegoers before both went to different studios.
42nd Street. Kay was originally supposed to star in this now-legendary musical for Warner Bros. Unfortunately, she was in the middle of renegotiating her contract and was unable to complete it. The role went to Bebe Daniels.
Four Jills in a Jeep. Twentieth Century-Fox, 1944. Wartime studio musical which featured actors making a cameo appearance as themselves. Based on the real-life experiences of Kay, Martha Raye, Carole Landis, and Mitzi Mayfair.
Frances Langford-Don Ameche Show. One of Kay’s rare television appearances. See the Television Page for further info.
Francis, James Dwight. Kay’s first husband, and the first man she began a sexual affair with (before they were married). The two were married on December 4, 1922 (when Kay was 17, he was 25) and divorce was granted on March 26, 1925. It’s still unclear how the two met, though it may have been through Julia Cutting (party organizer), who Kay was working for at the time she met him.
Fryer, Elmer. As head of the publicity stills department for Warner Bros., Fryer held an enormous importance in the image of Kay Francis for moviegoers. Fryer was born in Springfield, Missouri on January 21, 1898 and began his career in photography in 1924.
When Warner Bros. and First National Studios merged in 1929, Fryer replaced Fred Archer as the head of the stills department. Fryer remained at Warner Bros. until 1941 and died, aged only 46, on March 3, 1944.