Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fredric March, 1931 "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"

Fredric March won an Oscar nomination in 1930 for The Royal Family of Broadway, in which he played a role based upon John Barrymore. He won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1931 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and again in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives. On March 25, 1954, March co-hosted the 26th Annual Academy Awards ceremony from New York City, with co-host Donald O'Connor in Los Angeles.
March in A Star is Born (1937)

March was one of the few actors to resist signing long-term contracts with the studios, and was able to freelance and pick and choose his roles, in the process also avoiding typecasting. By this time, he was working on Broadway as often as in Hollywood, and his screen career was not as prolific as it had been.

March, however, won two Best Actor Tony Awards: in 1947 for the play Years Ago, written by Ruth Gordon; and in 1957 for his performance as James Tyrone in the original Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night.

March's neighbor in Connecticut, playwright Arthur Miller, was thought to favor March to inaugurate the part of Willy Loman in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman (1949). However, March read the play and turned down the role, whereupon director Elia Kazan cast Lee J. Cobb as Willy, and Arthur Kennedy as one of Willy's sons, Biff Loman, two men that the director had worked with in the film Boomerang (1947). March later regretted turning down the role and finally played Willy Loman in Columbia Pictures's 1951 film version of the play, directed by Laslo Benedek. Perhaps March's greatest late-in-life role was in Inherit the Wind (1960), opposite Spencer Tracy.
in Inherit the Wind (1960)

When March underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 1972, it seemed his career was over, yet he managed to give one last great performance in The Iceman Cometh (1973), as the complicated Irish bartender, Harry Hope. Coincidentally, co-star Robert Ryan was entering the final stages of lung cancer, so the film was the last for both March and Ryan.

March has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1616 Vine Street.

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