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JOEL McCREA

Signed by  Barbara Stanwyck & Joel McCrea

Original Signed-by-Both 1936 Photo from
"Banjo On My Knee"

Biography for
Joel McCrea


Height
6' 2"
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Mini biography
One of the great stars of American Westerns, and a very popular leading man in non-Westerns as well. He was born and raised in the surroundings of Hollywood and as a boy became interested in the movies that were being made all around. He studied acting at Pomona College and got some stage experience at the Pasadena Community Playhouse, where other future stars such as Randolph Scott, Robert Young, and Victor Mature would also get their first experience. He worked as an extra after graduation from the University of Southern California in 1928 and did some stunt work. In a rare case of an extra being chosen from the crowd to play a major role, McCrea was given a part in The Jazz Age. A contract at MGM followed, and then a better contract at RKO. Will Rogers took a liking to the young man (they shared a love of ranching and roping) and did much to elevate McCrea's career. His wholesome good looks and quiet manner were soon in demand, primarily in romantic dramas and comedies, and he became an increasingly popular leading man. He hoped to concentrate on Westerns, but several years passed before he could convince the studio heads to cast him in one. When he proved successful in that genre, more and more Westerns came his way. But he continued to make a mark in other kinds of pictures, and proved himself particularly adept at the light comedy of Preston Sturges, for whom he made several films. By the late Forties, his concentration focused on Westerns, and he made few non-Westerns thereafter. He was immensely popular in them, and most of them still hold up well today. He and Randolph Scott, whose career strongly resembles McCrea's, came out of retirement to make a classic of the genre, Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country (1962). Scott stayed retired thereafter; McCrea made a couple of appearances in small films afterwards, but was primarily content to maintain his life as a gentleman rancher. He was married for fifty-seven years to actress Frances Dee, who survived him.

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Spouse
Frances Dee (1933 - 1990) (his death)
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Trivia

Father, with actress Frances Dee, of actor Jody McCrea.

Blue eyes

Starred in radio show 'Tales of the Texas Rangers'
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Personal quotes

"I have no regrets, except perhaps one: I should have tried harder to be a better actor."

Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Actor. (b. Nov. 5, 1905, Los Angeles; d. Oct. 20, 1990.) Like many natives of southern California, McCrea more or less drifted into movies because they were there. He did extra work while attending Pomona State College (and can be seen in such late silent films as Marion Davies'The Fair Co-ed a growing interest in acting led him into collegiate theatrics and community playhouses. Cecil B. DeMille gave McCrea his first featured role (as a young playboy) inDynamite (1929), the director's first talkie. Tall, lithe, and handsome-but not in a matinee- idol way-McCrea was an immediate success, and bounced back and forth between supporting roles and leads for the next several years, appearing in drawing-room dramas, comedies, and adventure films, includingLightnin', Silver Horde (both 1930),Once a Sinner, Kept Husbands, Born to Love, Girls About Town (all 1931),Business and Pleasure, Rockabye andThe Sport Parade (all 1932).

Three RKO films in 1932 cemented McCrea's reputation.Bird of Paradise teamed him with exotic Delores Del Rio in a dreamy, audience-pleasing South Seas romance (which gave female moviegoers ample opportunity to coo over his physique);The Most Dangerous Game pitted him against Russian hunter Leslie Banks in a robust adaptation of Richard Connell's classic short story; andThe Lost Squadron ostensibly a Richard Dix vehicle, gave him a plum role as a daredevil pilot. McCrea starred opposite RKO's top female star, Irene Dunne, in a tepid 1933 drama,The Silver Cord During production of that film he first met actress Frances Dee, whom he would marry within the year.

McCrea became one of the 1930s' most dependable leading men, although, oddly enough, during that decade he seldom essayed the rugged, virile characterization for which he is so fondly remembered. He fared particularly well in films produced by Samuel Goldwyn, includingBarbary Coast (1935, as a young prospector smitten by gambler Miriam Hopkins),Splendor (also 1935, again paired with Hopkins),These Three (1936, as the doctor in love with schoolteacher Merle Oberon),Come and Get It (also 1936, as the idealistic son of rugged lumber king Edward Arnold), andDead End (1937, as the impoverished, would-be architect in a New York slum). These movies, more than most others McCrea made during the 1930s, solidified his box-office standing.

Wells Fargo (1937) reunited McCrea and Dee on-screen, and was the first bona fide Western he made; overblown but oddly unexciting, it now seems a lackluster initiation into the genre for which McCrea is best remembered. DeMille'sUnion Pacific (1939) had more hair on its chest, so to speak, and added to McCrea's standing as an action star. His vigorous turn as the all-American reporter in Hitchcock'sForeign Correspondent (1940) was equally well received.

McCrea claimed that he was never anyone's first choice for a part; in fact, Hitchcock had wanted Gary Cooper forForeign Correspondent But writer-director Preston Sturges liked McCrea and sought him out specifically in the early 1940s; they made a felicitous team.Sullivan's Travels (1941) cast him as a pretentious movie director who, while researching conditions in America for a forthcoming socially conscious epic, finds himself behind the eight ball and learns that making people laugh is a noble profession. By turns hilariously funny and relentlessly grim,Sullivan's Travels demonstrated that McCrea, in addition to his obvious dramatic talents, could do a pratfall with the best of 'em.The Palm Beach Story (1942) teamed him with Claudette Colbert, but Sturges gave most of the funniest material to Colbert and supporting player Rudy Vallee.The Great Moment (1944), an odd mixture of comedy and drama, starred McCrea as the dentist who invented anesthesia. The offbeat film, removed from Sturges' control, was recut to little avail by Paramount executives and poorly received.

The More the Merrier (1943) proved McCrea could be funny for other directors as well: George Stevens paired him with Jean Arthur in a cute story of WW 2 domestic travails that showed both stars to great advantage. Immediately after completing that film, McCrea went to 20th Century-Fox to star asBuffalo Bill (1944), a handsomely made biopic that was a huge box-office success. Most of McCrea's subsequent films were Westerns. Even the gentle (and underrated) Stars in My Crown (1950), in which he plays a minister, was set in the American West. In 1962, after several years offscreen, McCrea agreed to costar with Randolph Scott in an elegiac Western to be directed by a young Sam Peckinpah: Ride the High Country (1962) turned out to be a minor classic and one of McCrea's all-time best.

McCrea also dabbled in television, as a regular on "Four Star Playhouse" (1952-53) and as the star of "Wichita Town" (1959-60). (He even headlined a Western series on radio: "Tales of Texas Rangers.") He invested wisely in real estate and livestock, and listed his occupation as "Rancher" on his tax returns, claiming his movie acting was just an avocation. He was still married to Dee when he died in 1990, making theirs one of Hollywood's longest unions. Their son Jody briefly pursued an acting career in the 1960s.

OTHER FILMS INCLUDE: 1946:The Virginian (the fourth version of Owen Wister's popular novel); 1947:Ramrod 1948:Four Faces West (with Dee); 1949:South of St. Louis, Colorado Territory (the latter a Western reworking ofHigh Sierra 1950:The Outriders, Saddle Tramp, Frenchie 1951:Cattle Drive 1952:Shoot First 1953:Lone Hand 1954:Border River, Black Horse Canyon 1955:Wichita (as Wyatt Earp),Stranger on Horseback 1956:The First Texan (as Sam Houston); 1957:The Oklahoman, Trooper Hook, The Tall Stranger 1958:Cattle Empire, Fort Massacre 1959:Gunfight at Dodge City (as Bat Masterson); 1970:Cry Blood, Apache 1976:Mustang Country.

These Items are FOR SALE to knowledgeable Collectors. Please ask all questions of provenance before purchase. Items are only exchangeable if autographs are not authentic.

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