I Love Trouble
Franchot Tone should have had “I Love Trouble” tattooed across his you-know-what. Was his love interest married? No problem. Other boyfriends? Game on. Jail bait? Gang Moll? Alcoholic? Smitten.
Stanislaus Pascal Franchot Tone was born in 1905 to a multi-millionaire New York industrialist and his society wife. A spectacular career start with Lee Strasberg’s ground-breaking Group Theatre in New York coincided with “girl trouble”– an unmarried pregnancy and an “inappropriate engagement”. After an accolade filled year in the footlights, Tone hightailed it out of NYC on the wings of an MGM contract in 1932.
Round 1 – The Movie Star
In Hollywood, Tone was a Fred Astaire movie come to life. Good looking, cultured millionaires’ sons didn’t grow on trees in the Great Depression. The dashing singleton had his pick of the ladies. But Tone set his sights on Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. –Joan Crawford. The fact that Crawford was not yet divorced, and in a torrid affair with Clark Gable did little to dissuade his pursuit.
Joan finally said I do in 1935 when Tone started smooching with Bette Davis. The marraige was a give and take: he gave her some class and she helped his career. But there was one teensy problem. All this society and theatre stuff meant crapola in Hollywood. Joan was still the “Star”. Mr. Crawford’s resentment and drinking grew. After the divorce Tone goes back to Broadway to be appreciated.
Round 2 – The “KissLess” Hari Kari Bride
Back again. (stupid eternal Hollywood contracts!) Two years later the 36 year old Tone marries 18-year-old Sexpot Jean Wallace. Problem is Baby Mama is as bonkers as she is beautiful. Her pill fueled suicide attempts, pink hairdos and gangster dating hobby complicate la amore.
After seven bumpy years of marriage the couple divorce in 1948. Not long after the divorce, the Tone and Wallace decide to live together and date other people. (Just like marriage.) Wallace even manages to marry someone and get it annulled because she claims she was a “kissless bride”.
But Wallace only has eyes for Tone. When he blows off a birthday party for a date, Wallace tries to commit Hari Kari a butcher knife. Two weeks later at Christmas she is arrested for drunk driving wearing only a robe, slippers and lace panties. She then claims the cops requested “favors”. Around this time Tone decides to stop “dating” his ex-wife. With no new dates with Tone in the pipeline, Wallace decides to haul Tone into court for a new property settlement and custody of Tone’s 2 sons. Tone wins the custody battle.
Tone wins the fight but loses the war. In 1952, Jean Wallace and new husband Cornell Wilde regain custody of the 2 boys, have 2 more boys of their own and remain married for nearly 30 yeras. No more drama. Tone, however, by this time has gone from drama to performance art with wife number 3.
Round 3 – Bad Blonde
Everyone warned Tone that Barbara Payton was “trouble”. The former love trophy for Bob Hope, Howard Hughes, and Mickey Cohen was hot. She had just signed a $5000/wk contract with Cagney Productions and was to be rumored to be having affairs with all her co-stars. She had been hauled to court to defend a ” friend” on murder and drug charges while Tone stood loyally at her side. Tone naturally proposes marriage. After their engagemnet is announced Tone finds Payton in bed with co-star Guy Madison. Tone forgives her. A few months later Payton announces she will leave Tone to marry Tom Neal, a former NU prize fighter. She then continues to date them both (plus others). Neal attacks Tone and nearly kills him. Payton marries Tone, then leaves him for Neal after an adulturous 7 weeks of marriage. Tone files for divorce. Payton returns to Tone after a few months for a reconciliation (yes, of course he takes her back again) and then tries to kill herself with pills. Tone and Payton finally divorce for good.. . Well, no just kidding —- he does propose to her again the 1960’s.
Round 4 – The Theatre
Tone finally returns to his roots and concentrates on his passions with wife number four -the theatre. But he occasionally shows up in movies turning in fine performances, but looking far older than his years. Marriage number four does not last longer either. He decides to retire; he has cancer.
Round 5 – Circle Complete
In the final years of his life Tone reconnects with Joan Crawford in New York. In his final months he would often visit with her.
I Love Trouble Half Sheet, 1947 original half Sheet, 22″ x 28″. Paper Backed. Only minor repaired rips at edges. Colors are bright.