Fredric March (Actor) - On This Day

After all he won the Oscar twice!

There he is above, looking as sober as a judge or banker.

Born in 1897 in Racine, Wisconsin, the former Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel — his marquee name was a shortened version of his mother’s maiden name (Marcher) — was considered by Hollywood as a sometime leading man but always a serious actor.

That’s because Fredric March pretty much split his time between films and the stage, the latter considered artistically superior at the time. (It should be noted that in addition to his Oscars March was the recipient of two Tony Awards.)

At one point, he was heralded as a durable leading man though never of the popular caliber achieved by the studios’ leading male stars. Nonetheless, he was a pretty big star in the Thirties and Forties, whose career eventually generated a total of nearly 90 credits over a half century.

Critics have complained that because of that Broadway-Hollywood bifurcation plus his serious reputation, March sometimes came across as stodgy in his movies. His most interesting films were made during the 1930s when this gravity had not yet settled, writes British critic David Thomson.

March is certainly much admired both for his period work back then as well as his more contemporaneous films, but he was hardly beloved as a star who dominated audiences.

Ok, let’s see how much you know about March, the essential serious actor. As usual questions today and answers tomorrow.

Question 1: March costarred in various Broadway productions with his actress wife. Who was she? a) Jessica Tandy; b) Lynn Fontanne; c) Elsa Lanchester; or d) Florence Eldridge.

Question 2: March is one of just two performers to have won two Oscars and two Tony Awards. Who is the other: a) Rita Moreno; b) Mary Martin; c) Laurence Olivier; or d) Helen Hayes.

Question 3: Yes, March did play Norman Maine in the 1937 version of A Star Is Born. Who played Vicki Lester? a) Jean Harlow; b) Barbara Stanwyck; c) Myrna Loy or d) Janet Gaynor.

Question 4: As mentioned, March won two best-actor Oscars, one in the early Thirties and the other in the mid-Forties. Can you identify the two pictures that generated these Academy Awards?

Question 5: In addition, March was nominated for three other pictures, one dating from 1951 and the other two from the 1930s. Can you name them?

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