Kay Francis

Active - 1929 - 1946  |   Born - Jan 13, 1905 in Oklahoma City,Oklahoma Territory, United States  |   Died - Aug 26, 1968   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy, Crime

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Born Katherine Gibbs, Kay Francis was a sophisticated brunette star with a lisp, deep voice, and stylish wardrobe. The daughter of actress Katherine Clinton, she began acting onstage in 1925 after schooling and a couple of jobs; she went on to summer stock and Broadway then in 1929 signed a Hollywood contract. Francis began accepting virtually every role offered her, going for quantity rather than quality in her screen work. Soon she became one of Hollywood's most glamorous and highly-paid stars of the '30s, usually playing stylish, serious-faced heroines in romantic melodramas and occasional comedies. Near the end of the '30s, her position at Warners was gradually taken over by Bette Davis, and in the '40s she appeared mostly in "B"-movies. After co-producing and starring in three films in 1945-46, she spent four years touring with stock companies and then retired from show business. One of her four husbands was actor Kenneth MacKenna.

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  • Studied at Holy Angels, Miss Fuller's School for Young Ladies (1919), and the Cathedral School (1920).
  • Attended the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School.
  • Worked in real estate before acting.
  • Adopted the surname Francis after marrying her first husband, James Dwight Francis.
  • Used the name Katharine Francis in her first acting job.
  • Had a contract with Paramount Pictures before moving to Warner Brothers due to Paramount's financial problems.
  • One of the most popular actresses in the 1930s, known as the Queen of Warner Brothers.
  • Retired from acting permanently in 1952.
  • Left most of her estate to the eye dog school Seeing Eye, Inc.