Popular traditional western actor and stuntman who starred within the 1946 film, The Virginian. During his 50-yr career, he made an appearance in a lot more than 90 movies. He worked like a stunt dual and equine holder for cowboy celebrities, William S. Hart and Tom Blend, while still in senior high school. His nude picture with Dolores del Rio within the 1932 film, Parrot of Paradise, triggered an uproar among traditional communities. He wedded celebrity and co-star Frances Dee in 1933 after filming The Metallic Cord. His profession peaked while dealing with movie director Preston Sturges.
Full Name Joel McCrea
Date Of Birth November 5, 1905
Died October 20, 1990, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States
Place Of Birth Pasadena, CA
Height 1.89 m
Profession Movie Actor
Education Pomona College, Hollywood High School
Spouse Frances Dee
Children Jody McCrea, Peter McCrea, David McCrea, Mona Leigh McCrea
Movies Sullivan's Travels, Ride the High Country, Foreign Correspondent, Ramrod, Colorado Territory, Four Faces West, The Palm Beach Story, The More the Merrier, Union Pacific, The Most Dangerous Game, Wichita, The Gunfight at Dodge City, Trooper Hook, Stars in My Crown, Gunsight Ridge, Cattle Empire, Stranger on Horseback, Fort Massacre, The Tall Stranger, The Outriders, Cry Blood, Apache, The San Francisco Story, Bird of Paradise, Dead End, Saddle Tramp, Barbary Coast, Border River, The Silver Horde, These Three, Mustang Country, Cattle Drive, Buffalo Bill, Primrose Path, The Virginian, Black Horse Canyon, Banjo on My Knee, The First Texan, South of St. Louis, Lone Hand, The Great Man's Lady, Internes Can't Take Money, Come and Get It, The Great Moment, Kept Husbands, The Oklahoman, Gambling Lady, Frenchie, Wells Fargo, Rockabye, The Richest Girl in the World, Adventure in Manhattan
McCrea admitted late in life that he made much more money in real estate investments than he ever did in movies.
McCrea turned down the lead in "The Impatient Years," which would have reunited him with his "The More the Merrier" co-stars, Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn. He refused to play a serviceman of any type, telling a reporter, "If I'm too old to be called, I was too old for that kind of show.".
Bette Davis liked McCrea very much and pressed him to co-star with her in an adaptation of Edith Wharton's "Ethan Frome." McCrea thought it too downbeat to be successful. A disappointed Davis called him "a cowboy psychiatrist" and referred to him as that from then on.
McCrea met the real Wyatt Earp in Hollywood in 1928 and ended up playing the iconic lawman in 1955's "Wichita." He later played Bat Masterson in "The Gunfight at Dodge City" in 1959.
Among movies that McCrea turned down: "Spitfire" with Katharine Hepburn, "The Impatient Years," "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "Intruder in the Dust," "The Will Rogers Story.".
He died on his 57th wedding anniversary.
Joel McCrea soon realized after losing the lead for "The Real Glory" to Gary Cooper that as long Samuel Goldwyn had both Cooper and him under contract, he would always come out second in the studio's choice roles. When he refused to resign with Goldwyn, the producer warned him that he'd "never work in this town again!" The Goldwyn always referred to the actor as "Joel McCreal." McCrea signed with Cecil B. DeMille for "Union Pacific" at Paramount,.
A very young Joel McCrea was advised by Will Rogers to put the money he made from acting into real estate, a venture that made the novice actor a millionaire.
Katherine DeMille and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., were classmates of McCrea,.
McCrea's first encounter with movie-making came on a Ruth Roland serial which unfortunately was saddled with a leading man who could not ride well McCrea, an outstanding horseman since he was nine, doubled for the actor at $2.50 a day and was given a job wrangling for the rest of the shoot.
Was a Boy Scout.
Was briefly engaged to comedic supporting actress Joyce Compton in the late 1920s but she broke off the engagement.
Was a staunch conservative Republican.
He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 1719 Vine Street and for Radio at 6241 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
The grandson of a western stagecoach driver who had fought against the Apaches, McCrea raised his own horses, was a passionate outdoors man and large-scale rancher, invested wisely in livestock and real estate, was a staunch Republican and frugal millionaire.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 574-575. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
His father, Thomas P. McCrea , was a secretary for the Los Angeles gas and electric company. His mother, Lou Whipple McCrea, was a professional Christian Science practitioner.
In 1920, he lived with his parents at 7755 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.
In 1930, he lived with his parents at 243 S. Rockingham Avenue, Los Angeles.
Very well-respected as a horseman, he was regarded as one of the two best riders in Western films along with Ben Johnson, who had been a real cowboy.
Katharine Hepburn was a friend of McCrea's and McCrea's wife Frances Dee. Hepburn also felt that McCrea was one of the best actors she had ever worked with and was always disappointed that his career wasn't more successful (she thought he should have been ranking alongside Spencer Tracy or Humphrey Bogart).
He was infamously modest about his own acting abilities, often bordering on a soft-spoken contempt.
A big sight gag in Sullivan's Travels (1941) was the juxtaposition of the big McCrea with his leading lady, Veronica Lake, who apparently was 16 inches shorter. For some shots of the film, however, Lake had to stand on a box so their heads could be seen in the same shot.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1969.
I don't believe in anti-heroes. Duke Wayne played a mean guy but never an anti-hero.
Cowboys are not beyond swearing, but we used it if a horse stepped on a foot.
After 87 pictures in 47 years, I knew when to quit.
When it came out the studio didn't sell it. But the critics grabbed onto it. Neither Randy or I had ever gotten such criticism. We were surprised, though we knew it wasn't a regular shoot-'em-up. I really enjoyed Ride the High Country (1962). Both Randy and I were washed-up actors playing washed-up lawmen.
I liked doing comedies, but as I got older I was better suited to do Westerns. Because I think it becomes unattractive for an older fellow trying to look young, falling in love with attractive girls in those kinds of situations ... Anyway, I always felt so much more comfortable in the Western. The minute I got a horse and a hat and a pair of boots on, I felt easier. I didn't feel like I was an actor anymore. I felt like I was the guy out there doing it. (1978)
People say I'm a one-note actor, but the way I figure it, those other guys are just looking for that one right note.
I have no regrets, except perhaps one: I should have tried harder to be a better actor.
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