Frances Dee was born in Los Angeles in 1909, and died in Connecticut in 2004 – reversing the movie star’s usual trajectory. She was married to Joel McCrea. Her first film was released in 1929, her last in 2006. I treasure her primarily for three performances:
1) As the spoiled but likeable rich girl in Josef von Sternberg’s An American Tragedy (1931), the same role Elizabeth Taylor played in George Stevens’ A Place in the Sun (1951);
2) As a nymphomaniacal society girl with a taste for gangsters in Roland Brown’s Blood Money (1933); and
– utterly different from either of the above –
3) As the compassionate but thoroughly professional Canadian nurse in Val Lewton & Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked With a Zombie (1943). In retrospect, the high point of her career.
She also appeared as “Meg” in George Cukor’s 1933 Little Women (upstaged by Katharine Hepburn and Joan Bennett).
Beautiful. Talented. Underappreciated.