Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What movie star?

"I can't wait to be forgotten."
Kay Francis uttered this quote during a media interview in the 1930s.



Sadly, she got her wish.

It is odd to think most people in the world today have never heard of one of the most famous movie stars from the 20th century.

She was the Queen of Hollywood. She was one of the first fashion icons in American history. She was a bisexual goddess, illuminating the silver screen with her secretive smile and spiraling out of control when the cameras were off.



Kay was raised during the first decade of the 1900s by a single mother, struggling to make it as a stage actress. They frequently moved, making Kay's childhood an unforgettable blur of different schools, faces, names, and places.

Desperate to escape her unstable home life, Kay married the son of a wealthy businessman when she was in her late teens. But the marriage ended in divorce a few years later.



As a newly single young woman, Kay turned to her mother's profession to see if she could find success on the stage. She did. After making a splash on Broadway in the 1920s, Kay was encouraged to pursue films. Kay did not long to be a movie star, however. She only agreed to go Hollywood because of the higher salary.

Kay's exotic looks worked in her favor. Movie-goers were enthralled by the mysterious dark-haired beauty who randomly appeared in the most eclectic film roles Hollywood had to offer.



While her star was rising, Kay became increasingly irritated with the media's growing obsession with her personal life. She married several times and collected lovers like candy. Her sexual escapades with both wealthy men and famous women made her the talk of the town.

During the height of her career, Kay was the highest paid actress in Hollywood. She had also become the biggest fashion icon of the 1930s. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous costumes were created for Kay, who paid extremely close attention to the designs she wore on camera. It was joked in Hollywood that Kay's fans cared more about what she was wearing than the movies themselves.



She starred in dozens of big hits, including my personal favorite, Trouble in Paradise. But the sweet smell of success could not dampen her growing depression. She attempted suicide, by slitting her wrists, but was rescued by her maid.

She was sick of being treated like a puppet by movie studios. She kept falling in love with deadbeats who milked her fame and money.



Movie studios were so impatient with her irate behavior, they started placing her in terrible films. They began lavishing their attention on younger, more modern talents, such as Bette Davis, who would one day outshine Kay as a Hollywood legend and fashion icon.

As she got older, the offers for films started to dwindle. She began to drink heavily, and she gradually lost all her friends. Her past included a series of husbands, but no children.



In the 1960s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she passed away in 1968. She left the bulk of her estate to a non-profit organization that trains guide dogs for the blind.

And today, barely anyone even knows Kay Francis was once the most famous woman in Hollywood.

30 comments:

A BRIT GREEK said...

Such a tragic ending... and this was a great post from you as always... gonna look up some of her oldies to check out on the w/end!

Hope you are well kitten.
x.o.x.o

The Blonde Duck said...

She sounds like Angelina Jolie.

cocobloggers said...

such a life!!!and she was so beautiful...

a kiss from the
cocobloggers

Bonnie said...

I love that she left most of her estate to a non-profit that trains seeing eye dogs. That is beautiful of her.

http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Gabriele said...

she was FABULOUS...thats all i can say!

Rachel {Da Paura ♥} said...

I love learning about old hollywood and you are just a wealth of knowledge always! She was beautiful.

xRachel

Josie said...

So gorgeous, and what a great quote. She had such a life!
xo Josie
www.winksmilestyle.com

Miksu said...

Never heard of her... But she was beautiful!

Bunny Moreno said...

I loved every wd you wrote! Just beautiful and thank you for introducing me to her! I look fwd to learning more about her-going to search amazon for some books!!! Yeah!!!! xox

My 2 Pesos said...

I love her. :3

Couture Carrie said...

Yikes, what a life!
Beautifully written post, darling ~ love your bios!

xoxox,
CC

Tights Lover said...

It amazes me that you keep finding all of these fascinating movie stars from the past that I've never heard of! Who knew?

I think I would've liked her though. I tend to find myself drawn to actors/actresses who never quite come to grips with their fame. I don't know why...

Old Fashioned Susie said...

Wow- thanks for this! I didn't recognise the name but the face is familiar! What a great insight you've given us!

PS- thanks for your comments on my blog, finding someone who can do vintage hair is like finding treasure, failing that you could train yourself!?
Xx

Meri said...

She's stunning. I can't figure out where I recognize her name from, but I watch a lot of old movies so it could be anything!

Love Sushi and Fashion said...

Great post! Lovely inspiration, I am following you :) Check my blog, and if you like it, you are welcome to do the same! <3<3

Cafe Fashionista said...

This is the first time I am even hearing of Kay, but she sounds like such a talent. And she's gorgeous! How sad that she experienced such a tragic end. :(

P.S. 'The Woman in Black' was a fantastic book. It's fairly short, but highly entertaining. It reminded me a bit of Charles Dickens meets The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I recommend it. :)

Jenna Hughes said...

tragic beauty!

http://underthefluorescents.blogspot.com/

Catharina said...

she was gorgeous!

briannelee said...

This is so sad! I have never heard of her, but I need to see some of her movies!

anhesty said...

wow she sounds fab. i must now check out a film that she is in.

shooting star said...

i once read in an article about fame and the unpleasant part of being celebrity...i guess we dont realise the blessing of being anonymous!!!

http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in

Becky Tjandera said...

I never heard of her. Thanks for letting us know! ;) She sounds so cool. Tragic ending though...

yiqin; said...

your movie posts are the best <3

Mabel said...

You're so good at digging up the life stories of forgotten starlets! I've never heard of this woman, but her story is pretty sad. Thanks for teaching me something new!

Mabel
Mabel Time

Lucie Srbová said...

She was so beautiful!!!

tattytiara said...

I'm a big silent movie fan, and I'd never heard of her. But then, it's remarkable how so many of the biggest stars of days are all but completely unknown now. It goes to show you - fame and memorability are not synonymous.

Love Sushi and Fashion said...

Great post! What a life! <3<3

The Blonde Duck said...

I hope you have a magical Monday!

SG Angela said...

wow. I love reading these posts. thank you for bringing her to our attention.

Richard Smith said...

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