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Frederic March
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Fredric March (August 31, 1897 – April 14, 1975) was an American stage and film actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives.

Early life

March was born Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel in Racine, Wisconsin, the son of Cora Brown, a schoolteacher, and John F. Bickel, a devout Presbyterian Church elder who worked in the wholesale hardware business. March attended the Winslow Elementary School (established in 1855), Racine High School, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi. He began a career as a banker, but an emergency appendectomy caused him to reevaluate his life, and in 1920 he began working as an extra in movies made in New York City, using a shortened form of his mother's maiden name, Marcher. He appeared on Broadway in 1926, and by the end of the decade signed a film contract with Paramount Pictures.

Career

March received an Oscar nomination in 1930 for The Royal Family of Broadway, in which he played a role based upon John Barrymore (which he had first played on stage in Los Angeles). He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (tied with Wallace Beery for The Champ), leading to a series of classic films based on stage hits and classic novels like Design for Living (1933), Death Takes a Holiday (1934), Les Misérables (1935), Anthony Adverse (1936), and as the original Norman Maine in A Star is Born (1937), for which he received his third Oscar nomination.

March was one of the few leading actors of his era to resist signing long-term contracts with the studios, and was able to freelance and pick and choose his roles, in the process also avoiding typecasting. He returned to Broadway after a ten year absence in 1937 with a notable flop Yr. Obedient Husband, but after the huge success of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth he focused his work as much on Broadway theatre as often as on Hollywood film, and his screen career was not as prolific as it had been. He won two Best Actor Tony Awards: in 1947 for the play Years Ago, written by Ruth Gordon; and in 1957 for his performance as James Tyrone in the original Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. He also had major successes in A Bell for Adano in 1944 and Gideon in 1961, and played Ibsen's An Enemy of the People on Broadway in 1951. He also starred in such films as I Married a Witch (1942) and Another Part of the Forest (1948) during this period, and won his second Oscar in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives. March also branched out into television, winning Emmy nominations for his third attempt at The Royal Family for the series The Best of Broadway as well as for a television performances as Samuel Dodsworth and Ebenezer Scrooge. On March 25, 1954, March co-hosted the 26th Annual Academy Awards ceremony from New York City, with co-host Donald O'Connor in Los Angeles.

March's neighbor in Connecticut, playwright Arthur Miller, was thought to favor March to inaugurate the part of Willy Loman in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman (1949). However, March read the play and turned down the role, whereupon director Elia Kazan cast Lee J. Cobb as Willy, and Arthur Kennedy as one of Willy's sons, Biff Loman, two men that the director had worked with in the film Boomerang (1947). March later regretted turning down the role and finally played Willy Loman in Columbia Pictures's 1951 film version of the play, directed by Laslo Benedek, receiving his fifth-and-final Oscar nomination as well as a Golden Globe Award. Perhaps March's greatest later career role was in Inherit the Wind (1960), opposite Spencer Tracy.

When March underwent major surgery for prostate cancer in 1970, it seemed his career was over, yet he managed to give one last great performance in The Iceman Cometh (1973), as the complicated Irish bartender, Harry Hope.

March has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1616 Vine Street.

Personal life

Although March died in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 77 from cancer, he considered the rural Litchfield County town of New Milford, Connecticut, his primary residence since the 1930s. This property was subsequently home to American playwright Lillian Hellman as well as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. March was married to actress Florence Eldridge from 1927 until his death, and they had two adopted children. He was buried at his estate in New Milford, Connecticut.

Throughout his life, he and his wife were supporters of the Democratic Party. His support for the Republican (Second Spanish Republic) side during the Spanish Civil War was particularly controversial.

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