Oscar Actors: March, Fredric (Cumulative Advantage, Oscars, Tonys, Golden Globes, Emmy Nominations)

Fredric March received an Oscar nomination in 1930 for The Royal Family of Broadway, in which he played a role modeled on John Barrymore.

He won the Best Actor Oscar in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (tied with Wallace Beery for The Champ, although March accrued one more vote than Beery[8]).

This led to roles in a series of classic films based on stage hits and classic novels like Design for Living (1933) with Gary Cooper and Miriam Hopkins; Death Takes a Holiday (1934); Les Misérables (1935) with Charles Laughton; Anna Karenina (1935) with Greta Garbo; Anthony Adverse (1936) with Olivia de Havilland; and as the original Norman Maine in A Star is Born (1937) with Janet Gaynor, for which he received his third Academy Award nomination.

March resisted signing long-term contracts with the studios, which enabled him to work for various studios. He returned to Broadway after 10-year absence in 1937 with Yr. Obedient Husband, which failed.  But after the success of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, he won two Tony Awards: in 1947 for the play Years Ago, written by Ruth Gordon; and in 1957 for his performance as James Tyrone in the original Broadway production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

He also had major successes in A Bell for Adano in 1944 and Gideon in 1961, and played Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People on Broadway in 1951.

During this period, he starred in the films I Married a Witch (1942) and Another Part of the Forest (1948), and won his second Oscar in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives.

March appeared on TV, winning Emmy nominations for his third attempt at The Royal Family for the series The Best of Broadway, as well as for TV roles as Samuel Dodsworth and Ebenezer Scrooge.

On March 25, 1954, March co-hosted the 26th Oscar Awards ceremony from New York City, with co-host Donald O’Connor in Los Angeles.

Previously, March had taken the role in The Desperate Hours originally offered to Tracy. Both men had also played Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

March’s neighbor in Connecticut, playwright Arthur Miller, favored March to inaugurate the part of Willy Loman in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman (1949). However, March read the play and turned down the role, whereupon director Elia Kazan cast Lee J. Cobb as Willy, and Arthur Kennedy as one of Willy’s sons, Biff Loman, two men that Kazan had worked with in the film Boomerang (1947).

March later regretted turning down the role, and finally played Willy Loman in Columbia 1951 version of the play, directed by Laslo Benedek, receiving his fifth, and final, Oscar nomination as well as a Golden Globe Award.

March also played one of two leads in The Desperate Hours (1955) with Humphrey Bogart. Bogart and Spencer Tracy had both insisted on top billing, and Tracy withdrew, leaving the part available for March.

In 1957, March was awarded the George Eastman Award, given by George Eastman House for “distinguished contribution to the art of film”.

On February 12, 1959, March appeared before a joint session of the 86th US Congress, reading the Gettysburg Address as part of a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

March co-starred with Spencer Tracy in the 1960 Stanley Kramer film Inherit the Wind, in which he played the famous orator and political figure William Jennings Bryan. March’s Bible-thumping character provided a rival for Tracy’s Clarence Darrow-inspired character.

He played President Jordan Lyman in the political thriller Seven Days in May (1964), in which he co-starred with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Edmond O’Brien; the part earned March a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor.

March made several recordings, including a version of Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant issued in 1945, in which he narrated and played the title role, and The Sounds of History, a twelve volume LP set accompanying the twelve volume set of books The Life History of the U.S., published by Time-Life. The recordings were narrated by Charles Collingwood, with March and wife Florence Eldridge performing dramatic readings from historical literature.

After surgery for prostate cancer in 1970, he managed to give one last performance in The Iceman Cometh (1973), as the Irish saloon keeper, Harry Hope.