February 27, 1905 - September 18, 1968
In 1936, Franchot shared this:
I'd like to stay with acting for the rest of my life. When I'm middle-aged—well, then I'll take middle-aged parts. And when I'm old I can always be a character actor...I wouldn't give up pictures. The stage is better, offers more opportunity for sustained moods and continued work; but it would be swell to come out to Hollywood for a part of every year, and then go back to the footlights.It is easy to lament that Franchot did not end up with more prominent, starring roles in films throughout his entire life. I think about the big roles he didn't get that would've made a perfect fit, the awards I wish he'd been bestowed, the attention his talent deserved but never fully received. This is the wrong way to think of Franchot though.
Look at the massive amount of work he did! The words he shared with a reporter in '36 held true. He stayed with acting and had no qualms about transferring to middle-aged parts and later, character roles. In fact, Franchot seemed to relish his parts more as the years passed.
He lived the life he wanted—dividing his time between the New York stage and a California studio. He worked through professional successes and disappointments, personal triumphs and struggles, health and illness. Acting was clearly his true love and one to which he forever remained faithful.
Franchot's life is not a sad story. It's the story of a man who lived on his own terms, who didn't measure his worth on the amount of top billings he received, who continues to positively impact a woman 79 years his junior on a daily basis.