Fredric March: Craftsman First, Star Second

Fredric March: Craftsman First, Star Second

Fredric March: Craftsman First, Star Second

Fredric March: Craftsman First, Star Second

Synopsis

Fredric March was one of the foremost actors America produced during the 20th century, holding the distinction of winning Best Actor Awards in two films and two Broadway plays. He consciously chose not to shape his career by projecting his own personality, but created a new characterization for each role by becoming the individual he was portraying. Because of this, March is not as well remembered as many of his contemporaries. March was honored 12 years after his death at a tribute in 1987, but by then, many did not even know who he was. In this fascinating biography, Peterson details who March was, and why he was a craftsman first, star second.

Excerpt

What you are about to see is a secret you are sworn not to reveal. And now, you who have sneered at the miracles of science; you who have denied the power of man to look into his soul; you who have derided your superiors. Look! . . . Look! . . . Look! (Mr. Hyde to Dr. Lanyon, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-1931)

Hyde drains the contents of the beaker in his hand, letting it fall to the floor, collapses into a nearby chair, and, begins that well-known transformation from savage brute into suave, attractive, if harried, Dr. Jekyll. Released December 31, 1931, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde frightened and astounded audiences fresh from two other horror films of that year--Dracula and Frankenstein. With his original depiction of the romantic but doomed Jekyll and sinister alter ego Hyde, the actor portraying the dual role was immediately projected into stardom. In addition, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor--the only time an Oscar was awarded the lead in a horror film: to a monster portrayed by Fredric March. March managed to mature into one of the best actors in America between 1929 and 1973, an actor of surprising versatility and durability, one of those rare performers who had gone from juvenile leads to the crustiest of old characters.

Though generally respected, March has yet to receive his full due, for he is not as well remembered as his contemporaries, Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper, with whom he shared the distinction of achieving two Best Actor Oscars. Why did he not leave his mark upon the present generation, as Tracy or Cooper have? March's career was certainly as praiseworthy as theirs. In fact, he advanced beyond them by garnering, along with his two Oscars, two Best Actor Tony Awards, an accomplishment yet to be matched. Unfortunately, the current generation, if they remember March at all, may only recall his second Oscar performance, that of the returning World War II

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