Remembering Frances Dee

Perhaps she is best remembered as the wife of actor Joel McCrea, and she would, very likely, be proud to be remembered that way. They co-starred four times on screen, and off-screen for 57 years.

Frances Dee was truly a lovely actress, a very fine and capable one praised by film historian James Watters as "a versatile original."1 In 1933, after completing work on Little Women, she delved into the underworld drama Blood Money, portraying a character quite the opposite of the ladylike "Meg."

Her screen presence was enchanting. It was clear she possessed level-headed good sense, but there was a sparkle about her. She had a delightful sense of comedy, used to its best advantage in the role of a contemporary Cinderella in William Wyler's The Gay Deception (1935). She bandied Preston Sturges dialogue in If I Were King (1938), and played a charming society bride trying to make a go of housekeeping on her husband's modest salary in Meet the Stewarts (1942).

With her marriage to Joel McCrea in 1933, family grew more important to Frances than career, and film appearances were fewer. But she gave us some of her best performances, including her beautiful, almost wordless portrayal of the wife of a German refugee in So Ends Our Night (1941), and that of a nurse who cannot help but love an outlaw (played by Joel) in the 1948 western Four Faces West.

She was a very special actress, and a remarkable woman. This web site is composed in tribute, as well as in the hope that it will further appreciation of the lovely Frances Dee.


Photograph above is by Ray Jones, exuberant publicity for Patrick the Great (1945).

1 James Watters, Return Engagement: Faces to Remember—Then & Now, p. 82.

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