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Joel McCrea
Joel McCrea - publicity.JPG
McCrea in Four Faces West (1948)
Joel Albert McCrea

(1905-11-05)November 5, 1905
Died October 20, 1990(1990-10-20) (aged 84)
Resting place Remains scattered into the Pacific Ocean
Years active 1927–1976
Frances Dee
(m. 1933; his death 1990)
Children Jody McCrea (b. 1934–2009)
David McCrea (b. 1935)
Peter McCrea (b. 1955)

Joel Albert McCrea (November 5, 1905 – October 20, 1990) was an American actor whose career spanned almost five decades and appearances in more than 90 films. McCrea appeared in Western films exclusively from 1946 until his retirement in 1976. His most notable Western is Ride the High Country (1962), in which he starred with Randolph Scott.

Early life

Most Dangerous Game prey
McCrea with Fay Wray in The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

McCrea was born in South Pasadena, California. As a boy, he had a paper route, and delivered the Los Angeles Times to Cecil B. DeMille and other people in the film industry. He also had the opportunity to watch D. W. Griffith filming Intolerance, and was an extra in a serial starring Ruth Roland.

McCrea graduated from Hollywood High School and then Pomona College (class of 1928), where he had acted on stage and took courses in drama and public speaking, while appearing regularly at the Pasadena Playhouse. As a high school student, he worked as a stunt double and held horses for cowboy stars William S. Hart and Tom Mix.

The 6'2½" McCrea worked as an extra, stunt man and bit player from 1927-28, when he signed a contract with MGM, where he was cast in a major role in The Jazz Age (1929), and got his first leading role that same year in The Silver Horde. He moved to RKO in 1930, where he established himself as a handsome leading man who was considered versatile enough to star in both dramas and comedies.


Jody and Joel McCrea Wichita Town 1959
Jody and Joel McCrea Wichita Town 1959

In 1968, McCrea received a career achievement award from the L.A. Film Critics Association, and the following year he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Joel McCrea has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6901 Hollywood Blvd. and another star at 6241 Hollywood Blvd. for his contribution to radio.

Personal life

McCrea married actress Frances Dee in Brooklyn in 1933. The couple had three sons. Joel and Frances remained married until his death — spending 57 years together.

Joel McCrea Mike Dunbar Wichita Town 1959
Joel McCrea as Marshal Mike Dunbar from the American television program Wichita Town 1959

McCrea who was an outdoors man who had once listed his occupation as "rancher" and his hobby as "acting" had begun buying property as early as 1933, when he purchased his first 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) in a then unincorporated area of eastern Ventura County, California, which later became Thousand Oaks, California. This was the beginning of what became a 3,000-acre (12 km2) spread on which McCrea and his wife Frances lived, raised their sons, and rode their horses.

By the end of the 1940s, McCrea was a multi-millionaire, as much from his real-estate dealings as from his movie stardom. In the late 1960s, he sold 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) of land to an oil company, on the condition that they would not drill within sight of his home.

The McCreas ultimately donated several hundred acres of their personal property to the newly formed Conejo Valley YMCA for the city of Thousand Oaks, California. Today, the Conejo Valley YMCA is located in "Joel McCrea Park".

Joel McCrea made his final public appearance on October 3, 1990, at a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Wilson in Beverly Hills. He died less than three weeks later, on October 20, at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California from pneumonia, at the age of 84.

Partial filmography

Business and Pleasure FilmPoster
Business and Pleasure 1932
Gambling Lady poster
Gambling Lady 1934
Dead End 1937
Wells Fargo FilmPoster
Wells Fargo 1937
The Palm Beach Story postr
The Palm Beach Story 1942
The Great Mans Lady 1942 poster
The Great Man's Lady 1942
The Virginian 1946 poster
The Virginian 1946
Cattle Drive FilmPoster
Cattle Drive 1951
Shoot First poster
Rough Shoot 1953
  • Torrent (1926, stunts)
  • The Fair Co-Ed (1927) as Student (uncredited)
  • The Enemy (1927) as Extra (uncredited)
  • The Five O'Clock Girl (1928) as Oswald
  • Dead Man's Curve (1928) (uncredited)
  • Freedom of the Press (1928) (uncredited)
  • The Jazz Age (1929) as Todd Sayles
  • The Divine Lady (1929) as Extra (uncredited)
  • The Single Standard (1929) as Blythe - One of the Philandering Men (uncredited)
  • So This Is College (1929) as Bruce Nolan (uncredited)
  • Dynamite (1929) as Marco - Her Boy Friend
  • Framed (1930) as Waiter at the Casino Club (uncredited)
  • The Silver Horde (1930) as Boyd Emerson
  • Lightnin' (1930) as John Marvin
  • Once a Sinner (1931) as Tommy Mason
  • Kept Husbands (1931) as Richard 'Dick' Brunton
  • Born to Love (1931) as Barry Craig
  • The Common Law (1931) as John Neville
  • Girls About Town (1931) as Jim Baker
  • Business and Pleasure (1932) as Lawrence Ogle
  • The Lost Squadron (1932) as Red
  • Bird of Paradise (1932) as Johnny Baker
  • The Most Dangerous Game (1932) as Bob
  • The Sport Parade (1932) as Sandy Brown
  • Rockabye (1932) as Jacobs Van Riker Pell
  • Scarlet River (1933) as Joel McCrea (uncredited)
  • The Silver Cord (1933) as David Phelps
  • Bed of Roses (1933) as Dan
  • One Man's Journey (1933) as Jimmy Watt
  • Chance at Heaven (1933) as Blacky Gorman
  • Gambling Lady (1934) as Garry Madison
  • Half a Sinner (1934) as John Adams
  • The Richest Girl in the World (1934) as Tony
  • Private Worlds (1935) as Dr. Alex MacGregor
  • Our Little Girl (1935) as Dr. Donald Middleton
  • Woman Wanted (1935) as Tony Baxter
  • Barbary Coast (1935) as Jim Carmichael
  • Splendor (1935) as Brighton Lorrimore
  • These Three (1936) as Dr. Joseph Cardin
  • Two in a Crowd (1936) as Larry Stevens
  • Adventure in Manhattan (1936) as George Melville
  • Come and Get It (1936) as Richard Glasgow
  • Banjo on My Knee (1936) as Ernie Holley
  • Internes Can't Take Money (1937) as James Kildare
  • Woman Chases Man (1937) as Kenneth Nolan
  • Dead End (1937) as Dave
  • Wells Fargo (1937) as Ramsay MacKay
  • Three Blind Mice (1938) as Van Dam Smith
  • Youth Takes a Fling (1938) as Joe Meadows
  • Union Pacific (1939) as Jeff Butler
  • They Shall Have Music (1939) as Peter
  • Espionage Agent (1939) as Barry Corvall
  • He Married His Wife (1940) as T.H. Randall
  • Primrose Path (1940) as Ed Wallace
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940) as John Jones
  • Reaching for the Sun (1941) as Russ Eliot
  • Sullivan's Travels (1941) as John L. Sullivan
  • The Great Man's Lady (1942) as Ethan Hoyt
  • The Palm Beach Story (1942) as Tom Jeffers
  • The More the Merrier (1943) as Joe Carter
  • Buffalo Bill (1944) as William Frederick 'Buffalo Bill' Cody
  • The Great Moment (1944) as William Thomas Green Morton
  • The Unseen (1945) as David Fielding
  • The Virginian (1946) as The Virginian
  • Ramrod (1947) as Dave Nash
  • Four Faces West (1948) as Ross McEwen
  • South of St. Louis (1949) as Kip Davis
  • Colorado Territory (1949) as Wes McQueen
  • The Outriders (1950) as Will Owen
  • Stars in My Crown (1950) as Josiah Doziah Gray
  • Saddle Tramp (1950) as Chuck Conner
  • Frenchie (1950) as Sheriff Tom Banning
  • Hollywood Story (1951) as Joel McCrea
  • Cattle Drive (1951) as Dan Mathews
  • The San Francisco Story (1952) as Rick Nelson
  • The Lone Hand (1953) as Zachary Hallock
  • Rough Shoot (1953) as Taine
  • Border River (1954) as Clete Mattson
  • Black Horse Canyon (1954) as Del Rockwell
  • Stranger on Horseback (1955) as Judge Richard 'Rick' Thorne
  • Wichita (1955) as Wyatt Earp
  • The First Texan (1956) as Sam Houston
  • The Oklahoman (1957) as Dr. John M. Brighton
  • Trooper Hook (1957) as Sgt. Clovis Hook
  • Gunsight Ridge (1957) as Mike Ryan
  • The Tall Stranger (1957) as Ned Bannon
  • Cattle Empire (1958) as John Cord
  • Fort Massacre (1958) as Sgt. Vinson
  • The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959) as Bat Masterson
  • The Crowning Experience (1960) as Prologue narrator
  • Ride the High Country (1962) as Steve Judd
  • The Young Rounders (1966)
  • Cry Blood, Apache (1970) as Pitcalin as an Older Man
  • Sioux Nation (1970)
  • Mustang Country (1976) as Dan (final film role)

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