Kay Francis

A Passionate Life and Career


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About the Book

Kay Francis came of age in the Roaring Twenties and relished the era’s hedonistic pursuits. Her career as an actress was launched at the same time, and before her death in 1968, she had appeared on many theater stages, in more than 60 films, on radio, in USO tours, as a model, and on television. The tall, stylish actress had a husky voice and dark beauty that was striking on film. Despite her financial success, relaxed morals, and life as a socialite, the millionaire actress shunned luxuries such as limousines and sprawling estates popular among Hollywood elite.
The actress, who insisted she wanted to be forgotten, left behind scrapbooks, boxes of memorabilia and detailed diaries. These rich resources help provide an exhaustive look at the life of one of Hollywood’s most intriguing early stars.

Francis’ biography is the heart of this book, beginning with her family background and her upbringing by a vaudevillian actress mother. The story of her extensive career and never-ending romantic pursuits is peppered with comments from the media and her own diaries, and supplemented with ample photographs. A chronology gives dates of theater openings, film releases, marriages, television and radio appearances, births and deaths. A filmography includes complete cast and credit lists.

About the Author(s)

Lynn Kear is an award-winning biographer, playwright, and novelist. She lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Author John Rossman lives in New York.

Bibliographic Details

Lynn Kear and John Rossman

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 48 photos, chronology, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2366-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5499-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1

1. The Michigan Playboy and the Actress, 1905–1908      3
2. Kay Comes of Age, 1909–1921      13
3. Her Most Wonderful Years, 1922–1925      20
4. Kay Goes Wild, 1925–1927      29
5. The Big Break, 1928–1929      41
6. “Overnight” Success, 1929–1930      49
7. Trouble in Paradise, 1931–1932      64
8. Merrily We Roll Along, 1933–1935      77
9. Disillusionment, 1936–1937      91
10. The Actress and the Spy, 1937–1940      104
11. Four Jills in a Jeep, 1941–1943      117
12. Goodbye Hollywood, Hello Broadway, 1944–1946      131
13. Disaster, 1947–1949      142
14. The Comeback, 1949–1955      151
15. I Used to Be Kay Francis, 1955–1968      162

Chronology      169
Filmography      173
Notes      193
Bibliography      217
Index      223

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “recommend[ed]…well written”—Classic Images
  • “one of the most complete and interesting biographies”—Femme Fatales
  • “documents Kay Francis’s life and career in considerable detail…fascinating”—The Slide Area