Ladies’ Man ♦ The Lady with Red Hair ♦ Carole Landis ♦
Fritz Lang ♦ The Last of Mrs. Cheyney ♦ Last Will and Testament ♦
Charles Laughton ♦ Anderson Lawler ♦ Let Us Be Gay ♦
Let’s Go Native ♦ Margaret Lindsay ♦
Lindsay Morrison Stock Company ♦ Little Men ♦
Living on Velvet ♦ Carole Lombard ♦ Robert Lord ♦
Anita Louise ♦ Myrna Loy ♦ Ernst Lubitsch ♦ Paul Lukas ♦
Lux Radio Theatre
Ladies’ Man. Paramount, 1931. Directed by Lothar Mendes. The film was another reunion for William Powell and Kay Francis. The film also featured Powell’s then-wife, Carole Lombard, who became one of Kay’s closest friends during the production of the film. Despite the off-screen relationships between the three, it’s Kay’s character who is Powell’s true love in the film. Not Lombard. Of the production, Powell said, “I’m offering a direct challenge to the movie public, playing this part…I’m throwing down the gauntlet. How can they receive me in such a naïve part? I’m not a ladies’ man. I haven’t the physical characteristics for one thing. Not handsome. Someone like Valentino should have played this part. Not Bill Powell” (WP).
Lady with Red Hair, The. A Warner Bros. film originally brought to the lot when Kay was still employed (1938) and she was a top contender for the role with Bette Davis. Neither made the film based on Kay’s friend Leslie Carter. Instead it went to Miriam Hopkins.
Landis, Carole. Young Hollywood starlet who traveled with Kay, Mitzi Mayfair and Martha Raye during the WWII USO tours to entertain troops. Landis’ book paralleled Four Jill in a Jeep (1944). When she committed suicide, Kay, surprisingly, made no mention of it in her diary.
Last of Mrs. Cheyney, The. This famous play by Federick Lonsdale Kay revived in the late 1940s on the stage. The play was filmed three times: in 1929 with Norma Shearer, in 1937 with Joan Crawford, and in 1951 with a faded Greer Garson. When Kay brought it back to life in the late 1940s most couldn’t understand why she bothered. View the Stage Page for more info.
Kay’s will was seven pages in length and left bequests to twelve individuals. Some of the bequests included:
Arnold Weissberger (Kay’s attorney), who received a drawing by Kenneth MacKenna’s father, Leo Mielziner, Sr. as well as two drawings by MacKenna’s brother Jo.
Priscilla Brandt who received Kay’s copy of Picasso’s Guitar Player.
Stephie Wiman who received Kay’s emeralds.
Helen Morgan who received $2,000, two pieces of sculpture, and Kay’s then-dog Chic.
The Museum of the City of New York received her collection of career records (film stills, clippings) and her diary.
Jetti and Lou Ames received pieces of furniture.
The Seeing Eye of Morristown, NJ famously received the bulk of her estate.
Kay’s will was made public in the New York Times later in 1968.
Laughton, Charles. Famous British stage actor. When Kay was making 1942’s Between Us Girls, Laughton was working with Kay’s It’s a Date (1940) costar Deanna Durbin in It Started with Eve. Apparently his behavior left Kay feeling uneasy. “Kay was in the middle of a scene when the lights on the set suddenly went out, and guns began to go off. Kay, who hated guns, was horrified and grabbed [director Henry] Koster’s arms saying, ‘Somebody’s shooting.’…Charles came down the stairs in a long nightgown and nightcap he had worn in It Started with Eve singing ‘Happy Birthday, Dear Henry!’…Koster, who had completely forgotten his own birthday, was astounded, while Kay Francis ran off the set in tears” (BF).
Later, Lawler made up the story that a drunken Kay showed up at his door naked saying “I am not a star. I am a woman. And I wanted to get fucked!” This probably never happened, as Kay knew Andy was gay and most likely made up the story to protect his sexuality.
Let Us Be Gay. A Rachel Crowthers play from the late 1920s Kay revived on the stage many times in the late 1940s. See the Stage Page for more info.
Let’s Go Native. Paramount, 1930. Directed by Leo McCarey. Stars Jeanette MacDonald and Jack Oakie. Kay only has a bit part in perhaps her most bizarre film of her entire Paramount career. The film was probably one of the major reasons Kay jumped studios to Warner Bros. a few months later when she signed her contract in January 1931 (her employment began there a year later in January 1932).
Lindsay, Margaret. Despite being only 5 years younger than Kay, she played Kay’s daughter in 1933’s The House on 56th Street (the character Kay plays ages 30 years on film). In the beginning of 1941, Lindsay was involved in a big scandal she was photographed at a lesbian orgy. Warner Bros. was blackmailed as a result. While the scandal never made the mainstream news, Kay made note of it in her diary of “Margaret Lindsay” and “trouble” on January 4.
Little Men. RKO, 1940. Directed by Norman Z. McLeod. Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott. Kay stars as Alcott’s legendary “Jo” in one of her poorer freelance films.
Living on Velvet. Warner Bros., 1935. Directed by Frank Borzage. The property was supposedly hand-picked for Kay to make by Jack Warner. It was her second film with George Brent and also her second (and last) film with Warren William. In the script there’s reference to Global Warming at a party in the beginning of the film and there’s a brief scene between Kay and George Brent where Kay (in the only time onscreen) acknowledges her speech impediment.
Lombard, Carole. (October 6, 1908 – January 16, 1942) One of Kay’s closest—and most loyal—Hollywood friends. The two met on the set of 1931’s Ladies’ Man and remained friends up until Lombard’s tragic death in an airplane crash. Lombard’s accident was made mention of in Kay’s diary, which is notable because some of Kay’s friends whose lives were cut short (Lilyan Tashman, Carole Landis) did not get a mention in her personal writings.
When Kay was dismissed from Warner Bros. following her contract dispute, and her career was in big trouble, it was Lombard who got Kay the job in 1939’s In Name Only, which helped revive interest in Kay Francis and gave her one of her best roles.
Lord, Robert. Writer and producer at Warner Bros. during Kay’s years at the studio. He worked on many of her films.
Loy, Myrna. (August 2, 1905 – December 14, 1993) When Kay was voted the 6th most popular actress in films by Variety in 1937, Loy was voted the MOST famous. And, at the time, indeed she was. Loy and Kay’s careers mirrored each other’s in the way both started by playing dark, scheming, vamp roles before transitioning into more sympathetic screen characters. Both have William Powell as their most frequent leading man. Both were top contenders for The Rains Came (1939), which Loy successfully won. On top of all of this, Loy and Kay were friends, working with each other during their WWII volunteer work. On the Books Page, read a detailed account of their work together written by Loy herself.
Lukas, Paul. Hungarian actor who worked with Kay in several films: 1929’s Illusion (he made sexual advances to her on the set which she coldly rejected), 1930’s Behind the Make-Up, 1931’s Vice Squad & 1935’s mega-hit I Found Stella Parish.
Lux Radio Theatre. Kay had many appearances on this radio show. See the Radio Page for further information.