Joel Albert McCrea, was an American actor and film star whose career spanned 50 years and appearances in over 90 films.
McCrea was born in South Pasadena, California, the son of Thomas McCrea, who was an executive with the L.A. Gas & Electric Company. 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, where he had acted on stage and took courses in drama and public speaking, and appeared regularly at the Pasadena Playhouse, Even as a high school student, he was working as a stunt double and held horses for cowboy stars William S. Hart and Tom Mix. He worked as an extra, stunt man and bit player from 1927 to 1928, when he signed a contract with MGM, where he was cast in a major role in The Jazz Age, 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.
In the 1930s, McCrea starred in Bird of Paradise, directed by King Vidor, causing controversy for his scenes with Dolores del Río. In 1934, he made his first appearances with two leading ladies he would be paired with often: with Miriam Hopkins he made The Richest Girl in the World, the first of their five films together, and with Barbara Stanwyck he appeared in Gambling Lady, the first of their six films. Later in the decade, he was the first actor to play “Dr. Kildare”, in the film Internes Can’t Take Money, and he starred in two large-scale westerns, Wells Fargo with his wife Francis Dee, and Cecil B. DeMille’s Union Pacific .