Actor Fredric March was a two-time Academy Award winning actor and was born Fredrick McIntyre Bickel on August 31, 1897 in Racine, Wisconsin. His film career began inauspiciously in 1920 as a film extra, but by 1926 he had become a full fledged star of the Broadway stage. He was a well respected actor who appeared in eighty-four films and television programs in a film career that spanned five decades (1920 to 1973). March was known primarily as the suave, romantic leading man in many of his films, he broke tradition for his first Academy Award winning role, (he shared the award with fellow actor Wallace Beery) playing the diabolical Mr.Hyde in 1932’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He would go on to win another best acting Oscar in 1947 for the film, The Best Years of Our Lives. He was nominated for three additional best acting Oscar’s in 1930, 1938, and 1952 but lost each time. March’s other notable film credits include; The Royal Family of Broadway (1930), All of Me (1934), Death Takes a Holiday (1934), Anna Karenina (1935), A Star is Born (1937), The Buccaneer (1938), Death of a Salesman (1951), The Bridges of Toko-Ri (1954), and Inherit the Wind (1960). He was also the recipient of two Tony Awards for best acting in 1947 and 1957. Fredric March died on April 14, 1975 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles from prostate cancer. He is buried at his family estate in New Milford, Connecticut.
Who died on this date:
On August 31, 1973, director John Ford died. He is considered by many to be America’s greatest film director, he was born John Martin Feeney on February 1, 1894 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He was known as “Pappy” to his closest friends and his storied and award winning directorial film career spanned nearly five decades from 1917 to 1966 and included one hundred and forty-four motion pictures. The hardnosed director was best known for his numerous Westerns starring John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Henry Fonda. He is credited with discovering John Wayne and giving him his first big break in motion pictures (Stagecoach, 1939). Wayne and Ford made numerous films together and the pair remained very close friends all their lives. Ford’s major film credits include: Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), The Battle of Midway (1942, he won a best documentary Oscar), They Were Expendable (1945), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), Mister Roberts (1955), The Searchers (1956), The Horse Soldiers (1959), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), and How the West was Won (1962).
On August 31, 1948, child actor Billy Laughlin died. He was born on July 5, 1932 in San Gabriel, California. He is best known for playing the character Froggy in the Our Gang short films from 1940 to 1944. Laughlin rose to fame at the age of eight when he appeared in his first Our Gang film, The New Pupil. His character was known for his strange, Popeye like voice, which was reminiscent of a frog's croak. When Our Gang stopped production in 1944, Laughlin voluntarily moved away from show business and enjoyed relatively peaceful teenage years. Laughlin died on August 31, 1948, when a bus hit him from behind while he was delivering newspapers and riding a motor scooter in La Puente, California. He and his friend, who was also delivering newspapers, were killed instantly.