Sunday, August 14, 2005

Kay Francis Remembered

Kay Francis was a huge star in her day, commanding a top salary and getting choice roles opposite such leading men as Joel McCrea, Cary Grant, William Powell, Errol Flynn, and Leslie Howard. Unfortunately, she is largely forgotten amongst today's moviegoers. But she remains a favorite of most Pre-Code fans -myself included! I am happy to report there are not one but TWO upcoming biographies devoted to Francis. Northern California writer Scott O'Brien's "Kay Francis: I Can't Wait to Be Forgotten" will soon be published by BearManor Media. Prior to this book, no full-scale biography of Kay existed. Much of what had been written painted a somewhat sad portrait of the actress, with little information beyond her retirement from acting in the early 50s. Scott tells me he had some amazing sources for his book, including one of Kay's dearest friends (still acting today in her 80s!), as well as her two godsons. Scott sheds light on her retirement years, as well as her disillusionment with the movie industry that made her a very wealthy woman. The book contains many rare and never before published photos of this unconventional beauty. Get in line behind me and preorder a copy today!

If you aren't familiar with the work of Kay Francis, TCM shows her Warner Brothers films quite frequently. In fact, TCM host Robert Osborne has contributed the foreword to Scott O'Brien's bio. Check out one of her early pre-code films on 8/23 at 4:30am EST on TCM: 1931's "A Notorious Affair." I can't always put my finger on why Kay is one of my favorites. She has a speech impediment and her acting style could sometimes be overwrought. But you literally can't take your eyes off her when she is on screen. She has star quality and charm that elevates her performances, even in her most humdrum films. If you haven't yet discovered her, you are in for a treat.

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