Hollywood Comes To Westport (And Easton)

I never heard the name Joel McCrea.

Joel McCrae. After the success of "The Virginians" in 1946, he appeared almost exclusively in Westerns.

Joel McCrae. After the success of “The Virginians” in 1946, he appeared almost exclusively in Westerns.

But, I’m assured, many Westporters — particularly of a certain age — have.

He was an actor, whose career spanned 50 years and more than 90 films. He starred with Barbara Stanwyck (who I have heard of). He played the first film Dr. Kildare (ditto). He’s got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I do not know Peter McCrea, either. But he’s married to Jack Lemmon’s daughter. (I’ve heard of him.) And he — Peter,  not Jack — lives in Westport.

I have never heard of the Easton Public Library (though I’m not surprised there is one). I did not know, then, that they sponsor a Classic Film series.

But they do.

This Tuesday (January 24, 7 p.m.) they’ll show “The Palm Beach Story.”

It starred Joel McCrea. And his son Peter will be there, to answer questions and tell stories about his parents.

Oh, yeah: His mother was Frances Dee. She was also an actress.

I haven’t heard of her.

But she starred with Maurice Chevalier. I do know of him.

19 responses to “Hollywood Comes To Westport (And Easton)


  2. Remy Chevalier lives in Weston. I went to Weston High with Alice Chevalier.


  3. The actress that grew up in my house… Mariette Hartley,,, starred in her 1st movie with Joel McCrea. Ride the High Country

  4. William Adler

    Thank you for posting. Joel McCrea was wonderful – film aficionados of any vintage should enjoy his work. Check out “Sullivan’s Travels,” a wonderful 1941 Preston Sturges movie that celebrates true American values of honesty and integrity over riches – not a bad choice to dial up today! McCrea was a terrific dramatic actor who could also do comedy. Glad to know about his son living in our community. Thanks!

    • There was also a strong message in the movie AGAINST “message movies.” Sullivan (McCrea) was a successful comic filmmaker embarking on a serious movie about the suffering of the common man during the Depression. It turned out, the suffering common man wanted nothing of his serious message film making; they wanted more comedy!

  5. Ok here’s something you didn’t know: Preston Sturges, who directed McCrea in at least three films, was the stepson of Solomon Sturges and thus a descendant of the Fairfield Sturgeses. They’re the one who had Sturges Highway named after them!

  6. Tom Allen '66

    He also starred in a pre-WWII Hitchcock film, “Foreign Correspondent”.

  7. Dave Feliciano

    Tongue firmly in cheek, I gather, but then again, that was in an era when actors acted and were not a hour and fifteen minutes of digital graphic designs followed by gratuitous sex scenes and exploding cars. Yes, a different era when people reflected on the movies they saw and could remember it a week later.

  8. Celeste Champagne

    Dear Dan, you need to get updated in your film history! These are big names from Hollywood’s Golden era, and I am so glad you noted these current facts about their connection to Westport/Easton. So enjoy your 06880 writings, even though I live in 06850 I am in your zip code regularly.

  9. Just got back from the screening of The Palm Beach Story. Great turnout for a wonderful comedy. Even better still Peter McCrea told absolutely fascinating stories about his parents during the golden age of Hollywood. Thanks for featuring this Dan, it was really time well spent.