Fredric March, unknown date
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The Fredric March Film Society
Fredric March
Forecourt Ceremony held on Wednesday, April 21, 1937
Born: Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel, August 31, 1897, in Racine, Wisconsin
Age at the time of the ceremony: 39
Died: April 14, 1975, in Los Angeles, California, age 77
It has to be said: there is something about Fredric March. Widely considered a "great actor," March was also a great movie star, giving audiences and filmmarkers that certain something they couldn't get from anyone else. Several of his portrayals are out-and-out classics.

Born to upper working-class parents, March attended the University of Wisconsin. Intending to enter the banking business, March served in the U.S. Army as an artillery lieutenant during World War I. After dis discharge, he was planning a return to banking, but an appendectomy which became critical caused the young man to commit to something else: heading to New York City in 1920 to act as a extra in the movies.

Ernest changed his name to Fredric March, and began hanging about the Broadway theatres. He made his debut in 1924's The Melody Man. March's talent must have been obvious, for he was given larger parts in Broadway plays between 1925-1927, after which, he was signed to an acting contract at Paramount Pictures. His first co-starring role was in The Dummy (released in March, 1929) with Ruth Chatterton.

Although March bailed from his Paramount contract by 1934, preferring to remain a free agent, he entered into his "matinee idol" period, starring with many of the leading stars of the 1930s: The Royal Family of Broadway (released in December, 1930) with Ina Claire, he won the Best Actor Oscar for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (released in January, 1931) with Miriam Hopkins, starred in Cecil B. DeMille's The Sign of the Cross (released in Februay, 1932) with Claudette Colbert, Design for Living (released in December, 1933) with Gary Cooper and Miriam Hopkins, The Barretts of Wimpole Street (released in September, 1934) with Norma Shearer, played Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (released in April, 1935) opposite Charles Laughton as Javert, Count Vronsky opposite Greta Garbo in Anna Karenina (which played the Chinese in October, 1935), and played the title character in Anthony Adverse (released in August, 1936).

A key role for March during this time is that of Norman Maine in William Wellman's wonderful A Star Is Born (1937). The film has its premiere at the Chinese, on Tuesday, April 20, 1937, so on the following day, March made his imprints in the Forecourt (although no photos of this event have surfaced).

His "matinee idol" phase continued with Nothing Sacred with Carole Lombard (which played the Chinese in December, 1937), DeMille's The Buccaneer (released in February, 1938), Susan and God with Joan Crawford (which played the Chinese in June, 1940), So Ends Our Night with Margaret Sullivan (played the Chinese in March, 1941), and I Married a Witch with Veronica Lake (released in October, 1942).

March spent most of the rest of the 1940s on Broadway. In this phase of his career, March is well-known for creating the roles of Mr. Antrobus in The Skin of Our Teeth, which almost ran for a year in the 1942-43 season. March won the Tony Award twice; once creating the role of Clinton Jones in Years Ago in the 1946-1947 season, and a second time in the role of James Tyrone in the Broadway premiere of Long Day's Journey Into Night, which ran for 15 months in 1956-1958.

But it was in 1946 that brough March his most enduring role, that of returning soldier Al Stephenson in The Best Years of Our Lives (released in November that year), for which he won his second Oscar. His time on Broadway had allowed March space to outgrow his "matinee" period, and now, producers wanted him for his dramatic power (and marquee value).

March played a Judge in An Act of Murder with Florence Eldridge (released in December, 1948), a corporate vice-president in Executive Suite (released in April, 1954), a Rear-Admiral in The Bridges at Toko-Ri (released in December, 1954), a TV network president in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (which played the Chinese in April, 1956), a "faith-based" lawyer in Inherit the Wind (played the Chinese in November, 1960), the U.S. president in Seven Days in May (played the Chinese in March, 1964, and in his final film, a saloon keeper in The Iceman Cometh (released in November, 1973).

March died of prostate cancer in 1975, at the age of 77.
Caption TK
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