Fredric March

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Fredric March, photographed by Carl van Vechten, 1939

Fredric March , actually Frederick Ernest McIntyre Bickel (born August 31, 1897 in Racine , Wisconsin , † April 14, 1975 in Los Angeles , California ), was an American actor who was one of the most versatile and versatile in Hollywood for more than three decades most respected character actors. He won two Academy Awards for Best Actor , for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). He has also received two Tony Awards on Broadway .


Early life

Fredric March was the son of Cora Brown Marcher (1863-1936), an immigrant teacher from England, and the ironmonger John F. Bickel (1859-1941). He was raised Presbyterian and studied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison . After his discharge from the army in 1918, which he was drafted into because of the First World War , March initially planned a career as a bank clerk in New York City . Dangerous appendicitis made him rethink his career choices and he turned to acting, which he had previously become interested in. He had already played leading roles in several amateur theater productions at university.


After minor roles in vaudeville , he made his debut as a stage actor in 1920. He also took on extra roles in silent films that were produced in New York in the early 1920s. Here he changed his last name from Bickel to the more pleasant sounding name March , based on Marcher , his mother's maiden name. From 1924 he played on Broadway , where he made his breakthrough two years later with The Devil in the Cheese . The great success of his John Barrymore parody in the comedy The Royal Family of Broadway , the film adaptation of the play The Royal Family by Edna Ferber and George Simon Kaufman , brought him a five-year contract with Paramount in 1929 , where March quickly rose to be a sought-after actor. In his first two years, March received good roles alongside Ann Harding in Paris Bound , Ruth Chatterton in Lullaby and Nancy Carroll in Laughter .

His breakthrough came when he played the leading role in Rouben Mamoulian's adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , for which he received an Oscar for Best Actor . In sharp contrast to this were his appearances alongside Norma Shearer in love affection and as a persecuted Christian in In the Sign of the Cross , Cecil B. DeMille's comeback as director at Paramount. Ernst Lubitsch gave him a role in Serenade for three in 1933 , which showed him together with Gary Cooper and Miriam Hopkins . After a few less interesting roles, March left the Paramount Studio when his contract expired in 1934 and continued his successful career as a free lancer , as an actor with no permanent ties to a film studio. In 1938, he was named the highest paid actor of the year with an income of $ 465,000 .

Critics frequently emphasized March's capitals, with which he could embody very different characters in both the comedic and the dramatic fields. His successes included The Affairs of Cellini alongside Constance Bennett , the role of Count Vronsky alongside Greta Garbo in Anna Karenina and as James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell , husband of Mary Queen of Scots , in Mary of Scotland with Katharine Hepburn . He showed his talent for comedies in 1937 alongside Carole Lombard in Denen is nothing sacred , directed by William A. Wellman , who also featured him in the same year as an alcoholic ex-star in A Star Goes Up alongside Janet Gaynor . His career ebbed somewhat in the years that followed. Exceptions were the comedies Susan and the good Lord with Joan Crawford and especially My Wife, the Witch , directed by René Clair and married in March as candidate for governor Wallace Wooley, a reborn witch played by Veronica Lake . 1946 Fredric March won for his role in The Best Years of Our Lives on the novel Glory for Me by Mackinlay Kantor his second Oscar. He received another nomination in 1951 for his portrayal of Willy Loman in the film adaptation of the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller .

He made his most famous stage appearances in the world premieres of the comedy The Royal Family, written by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber , and the war comedy We Got Away Again by Thornton Wilder , where he appeared alongside Tallulah Bankhead , and in a dramatized version of the novel A Bell For Adano by John Hersey . In 1956 he received a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for portraying James Tyrone in the world premiere of Eugene O'Neill's One Long Day's Journey into the Night .

Private life

From 1921 to 1927 March was married to the stage actress Ellis Baker. In the year of the divorce, March married the actress Florence Eldridge , a second marriage , and this bond lasted until his death. They adopted two children. March died of cancer at the age of 77. He was buried in New Milford , Connecticut . In the village, March owned a ranch with his wife, where he relaxed between film and theater engagements. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame .

Filmography (selection)


Oscar / Best Actor

At the 1932 Academy Awards, Wallace Beery was honored in the same category alongside March . March is said to have received one more vote, but the rules of the Academy at the time said that if there was a difference of up to three votes, both nominees should receive a prize. Today there would only be multiple awards if there was an exact tie.

Golden Globe Award

  • 1951 - Best Actor nomination for Death of a Salesman


  • 1951 - Nomination for Best Foreign Actor for Traveling Salesman's Death


  • Frederic March , in: Internationales Biographisches Archiv 29/1975 of July 7, 1975, in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely available)
  • Fredric March: Craftsman First, Star Second (1996) by Deborah C. Peterson
  • Fredric March: A Consummate Actor (2013) by Charles Tranberg

Web links

Commons : Fredric March  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Albin Krebs: Fredric March Dies of Cancer; Stage and Screen Actor Was 77 . In: The New York Times . April 15, 1975, ISSN  0362-4331 ( [accessed August 7, 2019]).
  2. Albin Krebs: Fredric March Dies of Cancer; Stage and Screen Actor Was 77 . In: The New York Times . April 15, 1975, ISSN  0362-4331 ( [accessed August 7, 2019]).
  3. ^ Esther Zuckerman: Yes, There Have Been Oscar Ties. February 24, 2013, accessed June 23, 2020 (American English).