Frances on ...


Her idol

"Ruth Chatterton—does anybody remember? She was quite an actress. But she was not a great beauty, you know, and the ones before her, like Norma Talmadge, were all incredibly…head-turners. And I said, 'Oh, I couldn't do that sort of thing.' But now, Ruth Chatterton played a very emotional scene, in which she strangled herself—with a telephone! She was talking to her former love, and he didn't want her anymore, so she wound it around... When I got to Paramount, I said, 'Well if they'll let me strangle myself!'"
— Somerville, Dec. 2003


"Like with anything, just stick with it. Through thick and thin. Just stick there."
— Somerville, Dec. 2003

Career vs. home-life

"That was tough. I'd be at the studio and I'd be home; I'd be at home and I'd want to be at the studio."
— Somerville, Dec. 2003

Joel McCrea

"My favorite leading man? Obviously my husband, darling! But I mean it. Oh, yes—I could boss him around!"
— Somerville, Dec. 2003
"He didn't like working with me [when we did Wells Fargo], although I enjoyed working with him. I'd get bossy; I'd sneak over to his dressing room. I never felt he'd reached his potential, so I'd say 'What if you did this or what if you did that?' I'd then go to the rushes—and see Joel had wiped me off the screen! I was so busy thinking about him I didn't think about myself! Joel never gave me any ideas—he thought it should be left up to the actor."
— interview with Michael G. Fitzgerald, 1999
"What can I say, but that I feel so fortunate and so grateful to have shared his life with him. He was my love—my life."
— letter to Radie Harris, Nov. 1990


... on Frances


Joel McCrea, husband

"She gave me my greatest sense of responsibility, and we stayed sane. Our backgrounds helped. No one in my family was in show business or the professions, and with that kind of background you're inclined to look at things more realistically.

"Frances was a very talented actress but once the children came along the family came first. She's very strong. I was inclined to walk away when things got tough, but not her. Frances is a sticker-outer. That's been a tremendous help to me and an influence. I wasn't bright enough not to have gone awry occasionally, but the kind of relationship we had, the kind of marriage, has made it possible for me to rise to the occasion when I had to. You wouldn't think to look at that delicate, fragile beauty of hers, but she's one of the strongest human beings I've ever known."
— date unknown

Maureen Stapleton, actress

"There are men you dream of, there are men you fall in love with—there are men you marry and then there is real life,—and that S.O.B. Frances Dee got it all.
DOUBLE EXPOSURE/Take Two by Roddy McDowall, 1989

Buster Crabbe, actor

"She was my leading lady in my very first film, way back in 1933—Paramount's King of the Jungle, the only 'A' production I ever made.... Frances still rates an A, as far as I'm concerned. Or in 1980 terms—a 10."
LIFE magazine, April 1980

John Springer, film historian

"... one of our most neglected good actresses and a beauty ..."
Forgotten Films to Remember, 1980

James Agee, critic

"...she has always been one of the very few women in movies who really had a face....she has also always used this translucent face with a delicate and exciting talent as an actress, and with something of a novelist's perceptiveness behind the talent."
The Nation, December 28, 1946