Kay Francis

  1. Jeannette MacDonald, One Hour With You, 1932.  Maurice Chevalier wanted either Carole Lombard or “Fwancis” as she lisped it. Director Ernst Lubitsch  persuaded him to accept a second teaming with MacDonald. In the 1933 Living in Velvet comedy. George Brent got Kay to say a ORDIcfamous tongue twister.  She was a good sport and let it out as:  “Awound the wugged wocks the wagged wascals wan.”
  2. Ruth Chatterton, The Rich Are Always With Us, 1931. The CHATTERTON name was huge on the poster once she succeeded Kay Francis as t socialite Caroline Grannard, divorced cfrom George Brent but forever in his life.  The couple wed soon after the shoot.  In one scene, he lit two cigarettes simultaneously and passed one to Ruth. This must have made an impression on their co-star, Bette Davis. She reprised  the two ciggies scene with Paul Henried in  Now Voyager, 1942.  Bette would   make  ten other films with Brent. They also squeezed in a two year love affair.  
  3. Bebe Daniels, 42nd Street,1932. “Sawyer, you’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” – the line (often misquoted) of the musical of all time. It saved Warner Bros from bankruptcy and was still   13th on the AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals list 73 years later! Ruth Chatterton and Kay Francis were also in the mix for Dorothy Brock, whose busted makes understudy Ruby Keeler a star – in her first movie. Idem for the incomparable choreographer Busby Berkeley,
  4. Barbara Stanwyck, A Lost Lady, 1933.    Francis was first chosen for the woman with too many men  in her life.  A  murdered fiance, a lawyer husband, a young guy  and a pilot landing his plane in her garden. All wrapped up in 61 minutes. TV soaps spend years relating the same garbage.
  5. Bette Davis, The Golden Arrow, 1936. Or Cream Princess when Kay Francis refused to be Daisy Appleby…  Or “a cheap, nothing story,” according to Bette Davis. She felt she deserved something better after her Dangerous Oscar. Plus more vacation time and the right to choose her films – including one a year at any other studio. She was sued in London by Warner Bros for breach of contract and she lost.  She was one of his biggest assets,  but  head bro Jack Warner never knew  what to  do with her. IN 1943, Olivia De Havilland had better luck with such a case in a landmark decision against the Hollywood contract system.
  6. Claudette Colbert, Tovarich, 1937.    Warners bought it for her, yet her salary was too high at $227,500 for her fading   allure.   And new O-Kays were   coming up strong.   One, in particular…
  7. Bette Davis, The Sisters, 1937. Myron Brinig’s novel  was bought by head brother Jack Warner for Francis to play Louise. .. and nearly made with Irene Dunne or Ginger Rogers. Finally, Davis became available… and Francis was ordered into the Davis reject, Comet Over Broadway. If norhung else, the Davis name saved the original anmd poster billing of: Errol Flynn in The Sisters!
  8. Bette Davis, Juarez, 1938.    Kay campaigned to be Empress Carlotta but her 15 minutes were up.   Warners dumped her into B-movies at $4,000 a week.
  9. Bette Davis, Dark Victory, 1938.  When still at MGM, David O Selznick bought the Tallulah Bankhead play in 1935 – not for her (“too Broadway”) but for Garbo and Fredric March. However, Gone With The Wind got in the way…  Gloria Swanson swnted to be the  socialite going blind with a brain tumour. “Can’t be any good if Selznick wants to sell it,” said the Columbia czar Harry Cohn.  Swanson quit Tinseltown for New York.  Next?  Barbara Stanwyck and Merle Oberon were keen, sniffing Oscar on the horizon. Warner Bros paid $50,000 for it – for Miriam Hopkins. Or Kay Francis. They were still pondering when Bette Davis pounced, winning her  third Oscar nomination in five years, allthough the head bbro Jack Warner had said ” who wants to see someone going blind?” Hah! Warner He built three new sound stages with the profits.
  10. Mary Astor, Brighgam Young, 1939.   Casting suggestions of head Fox Darryl Zanuck were not always followed – or possible. And so, Astor, not Francis,  won Mary Ann Young, among the 1844 Mormons seeking the promised land of… Salt Lake City! 
  11. Constance Bennett, Madame X, 1966.    Like Myrna Loy, she rejected the notion of being Lana Turner’s mother!


 Birth year: 1899Death year: 1868Other name: Casting Calls:  11