Encyclopedia Page T

Lyle Talbot ♦ Tarnished Lady ♦ Tarnished Lady ♦ Verree Teasdale ♦ Shirley Temple ♦ Irving Thalberg ♦ Theatre ♦ This is Show Business ♦ Till We Meet Again ♦ Genevieve Tobin ♦ Tony’s ♦ Tovarich ♦ Transgression ♦ Trouble in Paradise ♦ Turner Classic Movies ♦ 24 Hours ♦



marystevensssTalbot, Lyle. Kay’s leading man in 1933’s Mary Stevens, M.D. & 1934’s Mandalay.

Wikipedia page.





Tarnished Lady. This 1931 film starring Kay’s pal Tallulah Bankhead had scenes which were filmed in St. Thomas Episcopal Church. This is the same location where Kay married James Dwight Francis on December 4, 1922, and where her name “Kay Francis” came from (her birth name was Katharine Edwina Gibbs).


marriageplaygroundssTashman, Lilyan. (October 23, 1896 – March 21, 1934) Kay’s costar in 1929’s Marriage Playground and 1931’s Girls About Town. Outrageous, outspoken Hollywood lesbian (though she was married to a male actor who was also a homosexual), she and Kay were good friends in the early 1930s, and hyped up by Paramount as fashion rivals (PL).

Her career was cut short from cancer, which led to her early death in 1934.

Wikipedia page.


firstlady091411Teasdale, Verree. (March 15, 1903 – February 17, 1987) Wonderful blonde character actress who worked with Kay in 1934’s Dr. Monica and 1937’s First Lady. In the latter, she and Kay played two women in competition to get their husbands to be President of the United States so they could obtain the title of “First Lady.”

Kay was considered for the role in The Firebird which Teasdale eventually obtained.

Wikipedia page.


Temple, Shirley. Perhaps one of the two most iconic performers of the 1930s (the other being Mae West), one of her first films was a bit part in Mandalay.

Official Website. Wikipedia info.


Thalberg, Irving. MGM’s Chief of Production and social pal of Kay’s until his early death in September 1936. Kay frequently socialized with him and his wife (actress Norma Shearer). After his death, Kay remained close friends with her.

Wikipedia page.


Theatre. A play by Somerset Maugham which Kay made numerous appearances in on the stage. See the Stage Career page for further information.


This is Show Business. On July 15, 1950, Kay made her television debut on this program. See the Television Page for further information.


Till We Meet Again. A less than successful remake of One Way Passage which starred Merle Oberon and George Brent in the roles originated by Kay and William Powell.


George Brent, Kay and Tobin (notice Kay's body language!).
George Brent, Kay and Tobin (notice Kay’s body language!).

Tobin, Genevieve. Worked with Kay in 1933’s I Loved a Woman and 1935’s Goose and the Gander. Tobin felt Kay was stuck-up. She later said, “I always felt like she snubbed me, and at first I thought it was mean of her. But later I decided that behind those velvety, tragic eyes there must have been some very tragic thing that made it so she couldn’t really be friends with anyone. I went to a party at her home when she was married to Ken MacKenna—whom we all loved and admired—but even then there was friction in the air. I couldn’t understand her.”

It seems as though people were equally divided about Kay’s social abilities (see the Douglas Fairbanks Jr. entry for a quote about how Kay brightened parties with her social wit). It’s possible since there was so much friction between Kay and MacKenna, and Tobin “loved and admired” him, that Kay became spiteful over Tobin’s high opinions of Kay’s soon to be ex-husband.

Wikipedia page.


Tony’s. A club where Kay often used to socialize in her pre-filmmaking days. This is where she was rumored to have been “discovered” by Ward Morehouse, writer for 1929’s Gentlemen of the Press, Kay’s film debut. Morehouse later said, “And in the haze of that famous backroom we found Kay Francis. She was resting comfortably behind a Tom Collins. She was tall, dark, and interesting-looking but had made far more appearances at Tony’s than she had on the Broadway stage…Her career began that very day.”


Tovarich. This 1937 Warner Bros. film was the leading cause for her lawsuit with the studio. Kay was promised the part, but it was given to Claudette Colbert (see the Colbert entry for more info). Considering the film wasn’t a thrilling success by any means, author Scott O’Brien rightfully pointed out: “If Kay had been expecting Tovarich to be another Trouble in Paradise, she was mistaken. What could have been much ado about nothing was practically a death knoll for Kay’s career. What transpired next [the lawsuit with WB in the fall of 1937], left a bitter memory that would follow Kay for the rest of her life.” (BF)

Turner Classic Movies page.


Transgression. RKO, 1931. Directed by Herbert Brenon. Based on the play The Next Corner by Kate Jordan. Soap-opera film with Kay which paired her for the first time with Ricardo Cortez. Cortez also appeared in the 1924 film version of the same story. Transgression also had actress Nance O’Neil, who was rumored to be in a one-time lesbian affair with accused ax-murderess Lizzie Borden.

Transgression page.


troubleinparadiseposter45Trouble in Paradise. Paramount, 1932. Produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Based on the play “The Honest Finder” by Aladar Laszlo. Regarded by many critics to be the finest film Kay Francis ever appeared in (though not in the opinion of this site’s webmaster, however). Miriam Hopkins and Herbert Marshall star in this film with Kay. Although Kay was the highest-paid star in the film, she did not received top-billing. This may be in part to her leaving Paramount to work for Warner Bros.

Two stories exist about Kay’s casting in the film. The first tells that, in order to avoid a lawsuit from Paramount, Warner Bros. agreed to loan Kay to the studio to make the film after luring her, Ruth Chatterton, and William Powell to their lot. The second, which was defended by Kay herself, says that she wanted to do a Lubitsch picture so bad, she even delayed her honeymoon with Kenneth MacKenna in order to make it. This was considered by many to be an example of Kay’s addiction to making money.

On the set with Marshall and Lubitsch.
On the set with Marshall and Lubitsch.

Of this story, Kay said, “The money didn’t matter; the money had absolutely nothing to do with it. I proved that because shortly before Lubitsch asked for me, I had an offer of another picture on the Paramount lot. The same sum of money was involved. I turned it down. But when it came to working for Lubitsch, when I weighed my honeymoon against the honor this meant, against the things I would learn under his direction—well, Lubitsch won.” (PL)

This quote sort-of defends both stories. Though it has never been revealed what the other movie was Paramount wanted Kay to appear in, it seems likely Warner Bros. was loaning her to them anyway to avoid legal repercussions from their actions. And it just so happens the Lubitsch offer came around at the same time.

This is the only movie Kay made which is, as of 2014, listed under the National Film Registry’s list of protected films.

Trouble in Paradise page.


Turner Classic Movies. Launched April 14, 1994. This cable-television channel has had more influence over the popularity of classic films more than any other outlet for fans. A tribute to Kay was done one her birthday on January 13, 2004, and has been done again at least two more times since. In September 2008, Kay Francis was their Star of the Month, which was a month-long tribute to Kay and her films.

It was through TCM that many fans (Lynn Kear, this site’s webmaster) discovered Kay Francis.

(My personal note: Without TCM, this website wouldn’t exist, as I never would have heard of her.)

Official Website.


24 Hours. Paramount, 1931. Directed by Marion Gering. Based on the novel by Louis Bromfield and the play by William C. Lengle. Kay stars in the film with Clive Brook & Miriam Hopkins which takes place in a timeframe of one entire day in the lives of very unhappy people. The film, with its very early noir feel, is perhaps the best dramatic film Kay ever made under contract to Paramount.


24 Hours page.


A Kay Francis Encyclopedia…

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