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Kay Francis as SOTM January 2022


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3rd & 4th of january: 

jewel robbery (1932); trouble in paradise (1932); raffles (1930); first lady (1927); it's a date (1940); comet over broadway (1938); always in my heart (1942); the feminine touch (1941); the goose and the gander (1935); play girl (1940); secrets of an actress (1938); women are like that (1938) 

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10th & 11th of january: 

mandalay (1934); one way passage (1932); british agent (1934); cynara (1932); living on velvet (1935); stranded (1934); another dawn (1937); the keyhole (1933); stolen holiday (1937); street of women (1932)

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24th & 25th of january: 

transgression (1931); i loved a woman (1933); divorce (1945); allotment wives (1945); women in the wind (1939); the white angel (1936); my bill (1938); storm at daybreak (1933)

KAY FRANCIS

31st of january & 1st of february: 

i found stella parish (1935); for the defense (1930); guilty hands (1931); confession (1937); the house on 56th street (1933); mary stevens m.d. (1933); in name only (1939)

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2 hours ago, cinemaman said:

Kay  Francis  is  an  excellent  choice  for  Star  of the  Month. 

I love Kay Francis.

Note-- there are a few gaps. Six titles are still TBA. My guess is that one or two of the Monogram pictures she made at the end of her career will be added (since Turner now controls Monogram/Allied Artists) as well as KING OF THE UNDERWORLD and possibly FOUR JILLS IN A JEEP from 20th Century Fox...?

She's a second time honoree. Previous Star of the Month tribute was in 2008.

She's had several Summer Under the Stars tributes, most recently in 2021.

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Her career didn't survive long enough to have made any horror movies in the 1960's, so she's probably not as well known to younger audiences as some of her contemporaries who did manage to persevere that long. But she was top gal at Warner's for much of the decade before Bette Davis got a lock on the best roles. (Not that I'm telling you anything you don't know, TopBilled.) I first got a bead on her through Jeanine Basinger's book on women in film; Kay was on the cover and much of the inside. Intriguing actress and a great clothes horse.

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3 hours ago, DougieB said:

Her career didn't survive long enough to have made any horror movies in the 1960's, so she's probably not as well known to younger audiences as some of her contemporaries who did manage to persevere that long. But she was top gal at Warner's for much of the decade before Bette Davis got a lock on the best roles. (Not that I'm telling you anything you don't know, TopBilled.) I first got a bead on her through Jeanine Basinger's book on women in film; Kay was on the cover and much of the inside. Intriguing actress and a great clothes horse.

She was part of a wave of talent that left Paramount and signed with Warners in 1931. Others were Ruth Chatterton and William Powell. Powell did not stick around long and moved over to MGM.

From 1932 to 1937 she appeared in a string of box office hits. When Ruth Chatterton began to age out of ingenue roles in 1934, Kay pretty much replaced her. Bette Davis was toiling in B films and starting to make a name for herself.

But Kay had trouble with Jack Warner after she made FIRST LADY in 1937. She and several other Hollywood actresses (Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford) were suddenly deemed box office poison, because their movies were not earning enough to justify their humongous salaries. Warner tried to force her to quit, even though she had six pictures left on her contract. She refused to quit, since each film guaranteed her at least $100,000 and she was not going to walk away from that kind of money when the Depression was still going on. 

He wouldn't allow her to star in the "A" film TOVARICH, which she really wanted to do, and he borrowed Claudette Colbert from Paramount. When she complained loudly about this, he retaliated by assigning her to the B picture unit and cast her in MY BILL. He was hoping she'd object and go on suspension, meaning he wouldn't have to pay her. But she agreed to do MY BILL, and that "little" film was a success with audiences, so Warner's goal to put her in a low caliber picture had backfired. He also put her in charge of recent hires (like young Jane Wyman) to mentor them, I guess to make sure she was earning her salary, but she enjoyed doing that. Meanwhile, Kay continued to make B films to finish out her WB contract.

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In KING OF THE UNDERWORLD, Warner gave her below the title billing after Bogart, though she had more screen time and was playing the lead role. Interestingly, her very last B film at the studio, WOMEN IN THE WIND (1939), was another hit like MY BILL had been, which proved audiences still loved her.

By the time WOMEN IN THE WIND was in theaters, she had already cleared out her dressing room and moved over to RKO as a freelancer. She then made IN NAME ONLY, third-billed after friends Carole Lombard and Cary Grant, whom she knew at Paramount in the early 30s. She completed a three-picture deal at RKO, then took assignments at Universal, 20th Century Fox and MGM. She was still in demand through the early 1940s. 

Warner ended up rehiring her as a freelancer for ALWAYS IN MY HEART (1942) which was another hit.

Her motion picture career started to slow down during the later stages of the war, since she was off touring overseas and entertaining the troops. After the war ended, she signed a three-picture deal at Monogram where she would play in a series of melodramas. She selected the script writers, directors and costars and had a credit as producer. 

She was finished at Monogram in 1946, then did stage work and made early live television appearances. But an accident which caused part of her face to be burned, pretty much signaled the end of her career. So that is why she did not really do much television and by the early 1950s was retired from show biz. She turned her efforts towards charity work and lived the rest of her life very comfortably. 

I read a comment, where she was asked about her demotion to B movies at Warner Brothers. She was quoted as saying that even if Jack Warner had told her to sweep the studio floor to earn the rest of the money on her contract, she would have done it. She definitely wasn't box office poison and remained an audience favorite.

It's wonderful that a new generation of fans are enjoying her movies today. They are rebroadcast on cable and many of them have been issued on home video.

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I didn't know about the burns to her face, so thanks for that information. As for the comment about being willing to sweep the floor for her salary, it appears she was just as "plucky" in real life as in many of her roles on the screen. It'll be nice to have so many of her titles to choose from.

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11 minutes ago, DougieB said:

I didn't know about the burns to her face, so thanks for that information. As for the comment about being willing to sweep the floor for her salary, it appears she was just as "plucky" in real life as in many of her roles on the screen. It'll be nice to have so many of her titles to choose from.

There's a wonderful online resource about Kay Francis which I just discovered today. A lot about her life and career I didn't know. 

https://kayfrancisfilms.com/

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Kay's third and last husband was actor-director Kenneth MacKenna.

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She costarred with him in the Paramount feature THE VIRTUOUS SIN (1930). 

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Like the story in A STAR IS BORN, Kay's movie career eclipsed his. Drinking and physical abuse led to the end of this union in 1934. She would never remarry. But for a time, they were happy.

Screen Shot 2021-11-20 at 2.26.35 PM

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Wonderful actress. Love her work. The cutest most endearing lisp in the business.  Ba"r" none.  Maureen O'Hara's  hard  "T" in lieu of "thee" is sweet as well but a mere distant second.

Her films are always must watch. Glad she will be star of the month. When she is not, her films come on in the 2,3, 4 am slots and are difficult to watch.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/20/2021 at 12:50 PM, TopBilled said:

I love Kay Francis.

Note-- there are a few gaps. Six titles are still TBA. My guess is that one or two of the Monogram pictures she made at the end of her career will be added (since Turner now controls Monogram/Allied Artists) as well as KING OF THE UNDERWORLD and possibly FOUR JILLS IN A JEEP from 20th Century Fox...?

She's a second time honoree. Previous Star of the Month tribute was in 2008.

She's had several Summer Under the Stars tributes, most recently in 2021.

I was wondering where Raffles and Charley's Aunt were. 

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Hopefully she and the other topics. will get a rockin' promo. Man...the Busted song they used for their January On TCM 2019  promo would've been more suited to her than Kathryn Grayson-although the clips they selected really worked. 

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49 minutes ago, ladyday93 said:

I was wondering where Raffles and Charley's Aunt were. 

There are still six slots TBD, so maybe RAFFLES will be included.

They've never aired CHARLEY'S AUNT before. It was scheduled once or twice but pulled.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm so excited to see Kay Francis as SOTM on TCM. So many of her films are new to me and discovering her (thank you, film twitter) is a complete delight. Thank you, TCM, for keeping these actors and films alive for "all of us people out here in the dark." 

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Update...

I have filled in the titles we did not know when Kay Francis was announced as Star of the Month. Five of of the six are now known: TROUBLE IN PARADISE, RAFFLES, CYNARA, DIVORCE and ALLOTMENT WIVES. There is still one title at the end of the month that is yet TBD.

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On 11/30/2021 at 6:06 PM, ladyday93 said:

Hopefully she and the other topics. will get a rockin' promo. Man...the Busted song they used for their January On TCM 2019  promo would've been more suited to her than Kathryn Grayson-although the clips they selected really worked. 

I haven't seen a promo yet and I'm guessing there won't be one, which is sort of too bad after such awesome ones for Nov and Dec  2021.

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9 hours ago, ladyday93 said:

I haven't seen a promo yet and I'm guessing there won't be one, which is sort of too bad after such awesome ones for Nov and Dec  2021.

They haven't even posted an article yet for Kay, and her retrospective begins tonight. Ingrid's article is still up for December.

Usually by now, I am able to post the link to the article. 

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It wasn't Kay's face that was burned, it was her legs! She had to endure painful skin grafts. It was while touring in State of the Union, in Columbus, Ohio, I think. She took too many sleeping pills and when trying to revive her they sat her on a radiator that burned her legs. I think they may have spilled coffee on her as well. This was in the late 40s when her movie career was over.

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On 11/20/2021 at 5:30 PM, TopBilled said:

Kay's third and last husband was actor-director Kenneth MacKenna.

Screen Shot 2021-11-20 at 1.57.01 PM

She costarred with him in the Paramount feature THE VIRTUOUS SIN (1930). 

Screen Shot 2021-11-20 at 1.58.38 PM

Like the story in A STAR IS BORN, Kay's movie career eclipsed his. Drinking and physical abuse led to the end of this union in 1934. She would never remarry. But for a time, they were happy.

Screen Shot 2021-11-20 at 2.26.35 PM

I believe he was her fifth. There's also some dispute if she married that German financier in the late 30s. None of Kay's marriages lasted very long. She did have a relationship with writer/director Delmer Daves, but they never married. Maurice Chevalier too.

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4 minutes ago, Hibi said:

It wasn't Kay's face that was burned, it was her legs! She had to endure painful skin grafts. It was while touring in State of the Union, in Columbus, Ohio, I think. She took too many sleeping pills and when trying to revive her they sat her on a radiator that burned her legs. I think they may have spilled coffee on her as well. This was in the late 40s when her movie career was over.

I thought I read that her face also suffered burns. Good to know that it wasn't the face. I think she did become increasingly self-conscious about her appearance on screen and that is why she really didn't do much television. She loved working on stage, which is how her acting career began in the 1920s.

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2 minutes ago, Hibi said:

I believe he was her fifth. There's also some dispute if she married that German financier in the late 30s. None of Kay's marriages lasted very long. She did have a relationship with writer/director Delmer Daves, but they never married. Maurice Chevalier too.

On the IMDb, she is only listed as having three husbands. From what I gathered, her marriage to MacKenna is the one that really broke her heart. One of her previous husbands (William Gaston?) wanted to remarry her after her divorce from MacKenna, but she declined. She never spoke to MacKenna again, but did remain on friendly terms with her other ex-husbands.

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I seem to remember there was another (brief) hubby before McKenna. And I think one had been annulled? I would have to go looking for her bio and I'm not sure where it is or really want to look for it.

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

I thought I read that her face also suffered burns. Good to know that it wasn't the face. I think she did become increasingly self-conscious about her appearance on screen and that is why she really didn't do much television. She loved working on stage, which is how her acting career began in the 1920s.

It might be that the coffee burned her, but the serious burns were on her legs from the radiator.

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