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Frances Dee Fans


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Hi, Path40a, Feaito, and everyone.

 

Thanks for your well wishes. I'm glad to be a part of these message boards. Everyone is so nice, kind, and polite on the TCM boards, unlike some boards I've been on. There was one board in particular where the people were especially meanspirited and nasty, and I was glad to get away. You don't know how much it means to have my stories and opinions be valued. We don't have to agree on everything, but I've found the people on these boards treat each other with respect. I've been kind of down lately, and posting on these boards helps to cheer me up a little bit.

 

Anyway, I found out some more interesting stuff on La Belle Frances, as Feaito calls her. Seems that she was thought of fondly by her fellow classmates. Well, the fact she was elected school vice president at Hyde Park High proves that, as well as the aforementioned "Belle of the Year." By the way, I contacted the historical society and also have some other sources to find that information I needed.

 

Anyway, I found a fan letter written to the editors of "Chicago Tribune" regarding the film "Little Women." She was praising everyone in the cast and thanking everyone for the wonderful movie. Here is what she said about Frances.

 

I think Hyde Park High and Chicago for the sweet, unassuming Frankie Dee, who plays Meg. I'm guessing by the way she referred to Frances, that she was one of Frances' classmates at Hyde Park High. I guess Frankie was Frances' nickname in high school. Whether it was her classmates or family who gave her the nickname, I don't know. I do know her father's name was Frank.

 

However, that shows how her fellow students at Hyde Park High School thought of Frances. Sweet and unassuming aren't words you usually use to describe school officers, but I guess Frances fit the bill in this case, since she did get elected. Perhaps it was precisely because she was sweet and unassuming and stayed that way her entire life.

 

Oh, by the way, Feaito, having seen "Playboy Of Paris," you might find this interesting. In the "Tribune" database, I found a lot of ads for "Playboy of Paris" in the theater section, starting in August/September of 1930. It was playing exclusively at the Chicago Theater, on Randolph and State, which is actually still opening and operating today, although not as a movie house. Right next to it was an ad for some Clara Bow film that was playing at the Oriental Theater, on Randolph and Dearborn, which is at present, is showing the play "Wicked." It has a different name now, but I can't remember what the theater is called.

 

Anyway, of course Maurice Chevalier had star billing. However, I found it interesting the way the "Tribune" promoted Frances Dee in the picture. They referred to her as Former Chicago University Coed in all of the advertisements, whIch I found quite interesting. The 'Tribune' also printed Frances' picture in the paper at the same time, saying her colleagues at the "Tribune" wished her good luck and success as an actress. Her colleagues at "Tribune' most have thought highly of her to go to the trouble of wishing her well in print.

 

They also talked in the little blurb about how Frances was going to have screen name of Frances Deane, but within a couple of months they decided to let her use her real name of Frances Dee. Why the change, I don't know. Perhaps they thought they could get more publicity in Chicago if they kept her real name.

 

Those studio publicists did strange things. Why they would want to change her name from Dee to Deane is beyond my grasp. And, where that Jean Dee stuff came from, I don't know, especially with a nickname like Frankie. Ironically, another actress named Frances Dean joined Paramount a couple of years after Frances Dee. However, because of the similarity in names, she had to change her name to, Frances Drake.

 

Take care, everyone.

 

Deborah

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I got rid of mt credit cards years ago - would you please tell me what PayPal is? I saw something for sale on the internet once and they took PayPal - I didn't know what it was.

 

Ralph--

Sorry it took a while to answer--I missed this one.

 

Paypal is a website that allows you to set up and account with or without a credit card to pay for things you buy. (or it was when I signed up--hope it still is) You can either pay by electronic check directly from your bak account or you can deposit money there and draw from it. I honestly don't have a problem with them having a bank account number, because I just use a special account set up for that purpose, so if anyone got the number, they couldn't do too much damage--I only keep enough in there to cover my purchases. Or if you sell on ebay like I do, I have the money put directly in my Paypal account and use that money for things.

 

There's a small seller's fee, but buyers can use it for free.

 

Tracey

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  • 1 month later...

Hi, everyone:

 

Been quite awhile. I have been busy with other things; so, I have not had much time to post.

 

I actually got to watch a new Frances Dee film the other day, one of her rare ones.

 

The film is called "Strange Case of Clara Deane," where Frances is the second female lead. Wynne Gibson is Clara Deane, a fashion designer, who at the beginning of the film, is leaving her job to marry her fiancee, who turns out to be a real louse. He is accused of embezzling and is about to be arrested on their wedding day, but Clara bails him out, in spite of what police lieutenant (Dudley Digges warns her).

 

The couple has a young daughter, played by Cora Sue Collins as a child; Frances Dee as an adult. However, the husband, played by Pat O'Brien, is a no good ne'er do-well, w ho involves his wife and daughter innocently in a robbery. Well, Wynne is convicted along with her husband, who won't admit the truth. The police lieutenant adopts the little girl. When she gets out, Wynne looks for her daughter, but cop won't tell her where she is.

 

Both cop and Wynne love the daughter, played by Frances Dee, who remembers nothing of her past, except she knows she is adopted. Her rotton biological father comes on the scene and is up to his dirty tricks.

 

Not to give too much away, but this film is a marvelous, little scene gem. Frances is wonderful as the young girl who adores her father and remembers nothing of her past, but in back of mind, misses mother. Wynne is wonderful as the mother who'll do anything for her daughter.

 

Especially revealing is Pat O'Brien in the role of the skunky husband and father. I've seen him play villians before, but he is especially skuzzy in this one. For those of us who think of him as playing priests or football coaches, this film shows a very little scene side of O'Brien, a side mostly portrayed by his pal, Jimmy Cagney.

 

I still have not dug out my copy of "Wheel Of Fortune." When I do, I will look at the pictures in question.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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  • 1 month later...

She was a great (and IMHO underated) character actress from the the '30s through the early 50's. Married to Joel McCrea (another great and underated actor) for 57 years. Not as popular as Bette or Katherine but still a great talent.

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Thanks for the names of movies .I will have to check her out . This was a new name for me I have seen Of Human Bondage and Little Women. I will watch for her next time I see those movies

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There's only one film of hers that I'd really like to have on DVD: IF I WERE KING (Paramount, 1938). Of course, it's primarily Ronald Colman's and Basil Rathbone's presence in the film that makes it a favorite of mine (along with its fine Preston Sturges script).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi, Michellej:

 

Actually, TCM did do a salute to Frances Dee when she died. I have a copy of it on VHS. I remember when she died, because it was around the time Paul Winfield died, and I was in the middle of midterms. Ironically, in Chicago, only the "Tribune" made note of her death, even though the film critic at the other paper knew Joel McCrea and interviewed it. Go figure.

 

"Tribune" was also one of the few newspapers to get her correct age and birth year (94, 1909). I wondered how they got the information correct, while most newspapers got it wrong. Then I remembered that back when Frances had attended University of Chicago, she had worked at the "Chicago Tribune." That may explain partly why the guy at the other paper didn't write about her, since she worked for another newspaper.

 

Anyway, the tribute lasted about a week and was shown in between the Charlie Chaplin Star of the Month stuff. From what I remember, they showed Frances in movies "Finishing School," "I Walked With a Zombie," "Love Is a Racket," "Little Women," and ended with "Of Human Bondage, where she is waving goodbye to Leslie Howard.

 

There is actually a scene from one movie, where she is standing by a sliding glass door, turning around and looking away from door. Frances is wearing this long-sleeve print dress, with sort of lantern/accordian sleeves. This is the one film I did not know what it was. I thought it might have been "An American Tragedy," but I really don't think so anymore. So, if anyone who saw the tribute can tell me what movie it is, I sure would appreciate it. Of course, she was also included on the end-of-the-year list in 2004, which was the only list she and most of the other stars in the montage were included, at least "TV" wise.

 

On another interesting note, a couple of weeks back I got an email from a friend at about the same time I got a Google email about, of all things, a new Frances Dee film. In it, she is billed as Frances Dee McCrea. It is called "Far As the Eye Can See," and is a little short subject, 21-minute film. I guess she did this a few years back. She plays the grandmother of a teenage girl whose father wants to sell her pet horse. The girl and horse run away, with the horse trailer, with the father following after them. The person who reviewed it said she (Frances) should have been on the screen more. He obviously didn't like the actress who played the granddaughter, saying she was wooden or the like.

 

Has anyone else seen anything on this little short film. I know how hard it is to find short subjects anywhere in moviehouses, much less any good films to watch. I'm figuring if it plays, it might play with another movie. I would pay to see the other movie just to watch the short subject, no matter how junky the other movie is because I really like Frances Dee a lot. My favorite films are "Four Faces West," "Little Women," and "If I Were King," which someone else mentioned. Then again, I'm gaga for Ronald Colman.

 

As for the tribute clip, you might email TCM to see if you can get a copy of it. Like most of the newspapers, TCM got Frances' birth year wrong as well as, her birth name, which I found odd. I mean, Robert Osborne, in his "Hollywood Reporter" article, got her age/birth year and her real name correct. He is the host of TCM. Go figure.

 

Actually, in one of the many images files online, there is a JPEG of the 1910 Census, performed in April 1910, that features Frank M. Dee Jr. and Henrietta Dee, with their two daughters: Margaret P (age 2) and Frances M. (age 4/12 or four months), with Frances' name spelled with an i instead of an e (common mistake).

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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I really appreciate the info.Whenever a star would pass,TCM would do the "Remembrance" moment for them.She was a beautiful lady,underrated actress.I always thought it was so kind to remember the greats from yesteryear.A wonderful tribute.By the way,Virginia Mayo passed too,and I heard and saw no mention of it.Did I miss that,too.

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Hi, Michellej:

 

No, you didn't miss the two-minute tribute to Virginia Mayo. TCM didn't do the individual one for Virginia, like they did for Frances Dee.

 

Robert Osborne actually knew Ms. Mayo. So, one morning, shortly after her passing, they changed their programming for a bunch of their films, something they didn't do with Frances. Part of that probably had to do with the fact that Frances did a lot of her screen work at Paramount. For some reason, a lot of the Paramount films are in movie limbo from Universal. Go figure.

 

I'm figuring Mr. Osborne must have known Frances Dee and her husband, Joel McCrea, as well, since he has been reporting the Hollywood scene for years. Bob Osborne was one of the few people who knew Frances' correct birth year (1909), when most outlets (including TCM) didn't; so, I'm guessing he at least met them one time. I believe Mayo and her husband lived near the McCreas; so, he might have even met them through Virginia. Who knows?

 

All I know is that they don't make them like that anymore, and that the townspeople thought highly of all of them. Ms. Mayo left a lot of her Hollywood memorabilia to the area library. The McCreas donated their ranch to be used as a public park.

 

Incidentally, in case you're interested, the image file the 1910 Census was on was at Yahoo. I typed in Yahoo.com, clicked on images. Then I typed in either Frances Dee or Francis Dee, and the Census image came right up. However, it does not work out all of the time; so, I'll try and see if I can find a more direct link, if you would like to see it. Sometimes it works; other times it doesn't. The Census lists Frank M. Dee Jr, wife Henrietta, and two daughters: Margaret P. (2) and Francis M. (4/12 months). There is also some housekeeper living with the family, listed underneath their two young daughters.

 

I would try and do this on your home computer, not at a library, since they seem to have less hits at library. As for missing Frances' tribute, it wasn't your fault. You really had to be looking for it, like I was, to be able to find it. I just had some free time around then. I don't know if you can get a copy through TCM or not. You would have to check with them.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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I just like to see those 2-min.tributes.They show respect for the artists.They are very sentimental to me because these national treasures will all be gone one day.I hope Paramount and Universal get their act together.Virginia Mayo was a good actress.Her best films,to me were The Best Years......,White Heat, and a western she did with Dale Robertson.She wasn't an "A" star but had the talent to be if given better material.

 

 

Thanks Deborah!!

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  • 2 months later...

Hi, everyone:

 

It's been ahwile since I've posted. As I said in another thread, I have had trouble with my computer.

 

I recently got to see another one of Frances Dee's early films, one in which she had a very prominent role, although only about fourth or fifth billing.

 

The film is called "This Reckless Age." It is the sound picture of a silent and stage film called "Goose Hangs High." Frances plays the role Constance Bennett played in the silent version. Of course, Constance dated Frances' husband, Joel McCrea, before Joel and Frances met.

 

The story is about a couple of rich kids who take their parents forgranted. Frances is kind of a spoiled, selfish, rich girl who is not unkind, but rather careless. She is like a lot of youth, doing foolish things and maybe not appreciating her parents. However, when her father (played by Richard Bennett) gets in trouble, Frances helps comes to the rescue. Buddy Rogers plays her brother, who wants to quit school and go to college.

 

Anyway, there are a lot of ups and downs before the end of the film. What's interesting, other than Frances' performance, is Richard Bennett, who is playing a character as far removed from the real Richard Bennett as possible. The father in this film is more like a Joel McCrea-type, very soft-spoken and down-to-earth-not likely to lose one's temper. Charles Ruggles plays a friend of the family, with the improbable name of Goliath Whitney. What makes me laugh is oen of the McCrea's sons was named David.

 

This is an enjoyable little film. If you get a chance go see it.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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  • 2 months later...

Hi, everyone:

 

I got a Google email recently talking about six lost RKO films purchased by TCM, to be restored and shown in 2007. One of them stars Lionel Barrymore as a small-town country doctor. It is called "One Man's Journey." The film also costars Joel McCrea as Barrymore's son, Dorothy Jordan as Barrymore's ward, and Frances Dee as Joel McCrea's love interest.

 

This is one film I have been dying to see for years, but had given up ever seeing it. Then in 2004, a couple of days before Frances Dee passed, it was shown at a New York City Film festival, which I found rather ironic. So, I thought, "Maybe the film will show up, and now it has."

 

From what I read, at the time the film came out, it did fairly well at the book office. Barrymore seems to be playing one of the gentler characters of his career. RKO purchased five other films, including the 1938 remake of this film. So, it is something to look forward to in 2007.

 

I found it odd when Frances Dee passed, that they only mentioned three films she and Joel did together. Then it occurred to me that perhaps they thought the other film was lost or didn't exist anymore. Well, now it does.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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  • 3 months later...

Hi, everyone:

 

Update on "One Man's Journey." It will air twice on April 4 in primetime on TCM. The film stars Lionel Barrymore as a small-town country doctor, Joel McCrea is his son, and Frances Dee is Joel's love interest. Dorothy Jordan plays Barrymore's ward and the other female lead

 

RKO Studios cast Joel and Frances in this film to capitalize on their burgeoning romance at the time. Interestingly enough, Joel introduced Dorothy Jordan (his costar in "Lost Squadron") to her future husband, producer-director-actor Merriam C. Cooper. The three actors spent Fourth of July weekend in 1933 as guest's at Cooper's house (found in old newspaper column).

 

The remake with Edward Ellis will also be shown in April. Now, I like Ellis, but no one can compare to Lionel Barrymore. Ellis actually remade another Barrymore role. He did the role of father in "Sweepings" as "Three Sons" in late 1930's.

 

Anyway, enjoy the film. Except for showing at Film Forum in March 2004 in New York, the film hasn't been seen in 40 years.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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  • 9 months later...

Hi, feaito:

 

Sorry for so long for reply. Have been busy with school. Hope everything is fine with you.]

 

Just to let everyone know: Fox Movie Channel has been showing "Blood Money" this year, which features la belle Frances in one of her few turns as a bad girl, bedeviling George Bancroft and everyone around her.

 

The next showing of the film will be on December 1 (this Saturday) at 6:00 a.m. EST, I believe. Will have to check to be sure.

 

Take care.

 

Deborah

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