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Joel McCrea

Biography

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.

Quick Facts


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
Nationality American
Spouse Frances Dee
Children Jody McCrea, Peter McCrea, David McCrea, Mona Leigh McCrea
Parents Lou Whipple McCrea, Thomas 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
TV Shows Wichita Town
Star Sign Scorpio

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1Joel is the grandfather of actor/producer Wyatt McCrea.
2McCrea admitted late in life that he made much more money in real estate investments than he ever did in movies.
3McCrea 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.".
4Bette 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.
5McCrea 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.
6Among 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.".
7He died on his 57th wedding anniversary.
8Joel 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,.
9A 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.
10Katherine DeMille and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., were classmates of McCrea,.
11McCrea'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.
12Was a Boy Scout.
13Was briefly engaged to comedic supporting actress Joyce Compton in the late 1920s but she broke off the engagement.
14Was a staunch conservative Republican.
15He 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.
16The 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.
17Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 574-575. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
18His 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.
19In 1920, he lived with his parents at 7755 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.
20In 1930, he lived with his parents at 243 S. Rockingham Avenue, Los Angeles.
21Very 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.
22Katharine 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).
23Besides Jody McCrea, he and Frances Dee had two more sons: David and Peter.
24Attended high school with future director Jacques Tourneur who would later direct him in Stars in My Crown (1950) (one of McCrea's personal favorites) and a pair of 1955 releases, Wichita (1955) and Stranger on Horseback (1955).
25He was infamously modest about his own acting abilities, often bordering on a soft-spoken contempt.
26A 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.
27Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1969.
28Father, with actress Frances Dee, of actor Jody McCrea.


Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Mustang Country1976Dan
Sioux Nation1970
Cry Blood, Apache1970Pitcalin as an Older Man
The Young Rounders1966
Ride the High Country1962Steve Judd
The Crowning Experience1960Prologue narrator
Wichita Town1959-1960TV SeriesMarshal Mike Dunbar Mike Dunbar
The Gunfight at Dodge City1959Bat Masterson
Fort Massacre1958Sgt. Vinson
Cattle Empire1958John Cord
The Tall Stranger1957Ned Bannon
Gunsight Ridge1957Mike Ryan
Trooper Hook1957Sgt. Clovis Hook
The Oklahoman1957Dr. John M. Brighton
The First Texan1956Sam Houston
Wichita1955Wyatt Earp
Stranger on Horseback1955Judge Richard 'Rick' Thorne
Black Horse Canyon1954Del Rockwell
Border River1954Clete Mattson
Shoot First1953Taine
The Lone Hand1953Zachary Hallock
The San Francisco Story1952Rick Nelson
Cattle Drive1951Dan Mathews
Hollywood Story1951Joel McCrea
Frenchie1950Sheriff Tom Banning
Saddle Tramp1950Chuck Conner
Stars in My Crown1950Josiah Doziah Gray
The Outriders1950Will Owen
Colorado Territory1949Wes McQueen
South of St. Louis1949Kip Davis
Four Faces West1948Ross McEwen
Ramrod1947Dave Nash
The Virginian1946The Virginian
The Unseen1945David Fielding
The Great Moment1944William Thomas Green Morton
Buffalo Bill1944William Frederick 'Buffalo Bill' Cody
The More the Merrier1943Joe Carter
The Palm Beach Story1942Tom Jeffers
The Great Man's Lady1942Ethan Hoyt
Sullivan's Travels1941John L. Sullivan
Reaching for the Sun1941Russ Eliot
Foreign Correspondent1940John Jones
Primrose Path1940Ed Wallace
He Married His Wife1940T.H. Randall
Espionage Agent1939Barry Corvall
They Shall Have Music1939Peter
Union Pacific1939Jeff Butler
Youth Takes a Fling1938Joe Meadows
Three Blind Mice1938Van Dam Smith
Wells Fargo1937Ramsay MacKay
Dead End1937Dave
Woman Chases Man1937Kenneth Nolan
Internes Can't Take Money1937James Kildare
Banjo on My Knee1936Ernie Holley
Come and Get It1936Richard Glasgow
Adventure in Manhattan1936George Melville
Two in a Crowd1936Larry Stevens
These Three1936Dr. Joseph Cardin
Splendor1935Brighton Lorrimore
Barbary Coast1935Jim Carmichael
Woman Wanted1935Tony
Our Little Girl1935Dr. Donald Middleton
Private Worlds1935Dr. Alex MacGregor
The Richest Girl in the World1934Anthony 'Tony' Travers
Half a Sinner1934John Adams
Gambling Lady1934Garry Madison
Chance at Heaven1933Blackstone 'Blacky' Gorman
One Man's Journey1933Jimmy Watt
Bed of Roses1933Dan
The Silver Cord1933David Phelps
Scarlet River1933Joel McCrea (uncredited)
Rockabye1932Jacobs Van Riker Pell
The Sport Parade1932Sandy Brown
The Most Dangerous Game1932Robert 'Bob' Rainsford
Bird of Paradise1932Johnny Baker
The Lost Squadron1932Red
Business and Pleasure1932Lawrence Ogle
Girls About Town1931Jim Baker
The Common Law1931John Neville
Born to Love1931Barry Craig
Kept Husbands1931Richard 'Dick' Brunton
Once a Sinner1931Tommy Mason
Lightnin'1930John Marvin
The Silver Horde1930Boyd Emerson
Framed1930Waiter at the Casino Club (uncredited)
Dynamite1929Marco - Her Boy Friend
So This Is College1929Bruce Nolan (uncredited)
The Single Standard1929Blythe - One of the Philandering Men (uncredited)
The Divine Lady1929Extra (uncredited)
The Jazz Age1929Todd Sayles
Freedom of the Press1928Undetermined Secondary Role (uncredited)
Dead Man's Curve1928Undetermined Secondary Role (uncredited)
The Five O'Clock Girl1928Oswald
The Enemy1927Extra (uncredited)
The Fair Co-Ed1927Student (uncredited)

Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Woman Chases Man1937performer: "Trees" 1922 - uncredited
Banjo on My Knee1936performer: "Where the Lazy River Goes By" 1936
Chance at Heaven1933performer: "London Bridge is Falling Down" - uncredited
The Sport Parade1932"The Stars and Stripes Forever" 1896, uncredited
The Lost Squadron1932"Auld Lang Syne" 1788, uncredited
Kept Husbands1931"Three Little Words" 1930, uncredited

Stunts

Stunts

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Torrent1926stunts - uncredited
A Self-Made Failure1924stunts - uncredited
Penrod and Sam1923stunts - uncredited

Producer

Producer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Cry Blood, Apache1970co-producer

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
All-Star Party for 'Dutch' Reagan1985TV SpecialHimself
George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey1984DocumentaryHimself
Night of 100 Stars1982TV SpecialHimself
Dinah!1976TV SeriesHimself
The Merv Griffin Show1974TV SeriesHimself
The Great American Cowboy1973DocumentaryNarrator (voice)
This Is Your Life1972TV SeriesHimself
The Joey Bishop Show1969TV SeriesHimself
Here's Hollywood1962TV SeriesHimself
I've Got a Secret1959TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Lux Video Theatre1955-1956TV SeriesHimself - Intermission guest / Himself (guest)
The Ed Sullivan Show1955TV SeriesHimself
Screen Actors1950Documentary shortHimself (uncredited)
Stars on Horseback1943ShortHimself (uncredited)
Screen Snapshots: Seeing Hollywood1940Documentary shortHimself - Rodeo Spectator
Screen Snapshots Series 16, No. 21936Documentary shortHimself
Screen Snapshots Series 14, No. 91935Documentary shortHimself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood2008TV Movie documentaryJohn Neville Jr.
I'm King Kong!: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper2005DocumentaryHimself, from Most Dangerous Game (uncredited)
Sam Peckinpah's West: Legacy of a Hollywood Renegade2004TV Movie documentaryHimself
American Masters1990-2001TV Series documentaryHimself
A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies1995TV Movie documentaryWes McQueen, 'Colorado Territory' (uncredited)
Hollywood Mavericks1990DocumentaryJohn L. Sullivan (uncredited)
Presidential Blooper Reel1981Video shortHimself
America at the Movies1976DocumentarySteve Judd
Hollywood: The Selznick Years1969TV Movie documentaryActor 'Bird of Paradise' (uncredited)
Hollywood Without Make-Up1963DocumentaryHimself
Land of Liberty1939

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1987Career Achievement AwardLos Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
1987Golden BootGolden Boot Awards
1982Silver Medallion AwardTelluride Film Festival, US
1976Trustees AwardWestern Heritage AwardsMustang Country (1976)· John C. Champion
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameMotion PictureOn 8 February 1960. At 6901 Hollywood Blvd.
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameRadioOn 8 February 1960. At 6241 Hollywood Blvd.

TitleSalary
The More the Merrier (1943)$10,000 per week with 10 week guarantee

#Quote
1I don't believe in anti-heroes. Duke Wayne played a mean guy but never an anti-hero.
2Cowboys are not beyond swearing, but we used it if a horse stepped on a foot.
3After 87 pictures in 47 years, I knew when to quit.
4When 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.
5I 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)
6People say I'm a one-note actor, but the way I figure it, those other guys are just looking for that one right note.
7I have no regrets, except perhaps one: I should have tried harder to be a better actor.


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