Their grandson Wyatt McCrea joined us to discuss their food, films and ranch life!
Frances Dee co-starred opposite Katharine Hepburn in "Little Women", Ginger Rogers in "Finishing School" and Bette Davis in "Of Human Bondage". She is best remembered for her role in the Val Lewton horror classic "I Walked With A Zombie".
Joel McCrea worked for many of the top directors in Hollywood including Cecil B. Demille ("Union Pacific"), Preston Sturges ("Sullivan's Travels") and Alfred Hitchcock ("Foreign Correspondent").
Frances Dee and Joel McCrea met in 1933 when they co-starred in the film "The Silver Chord". They also went on to co-star together in the westerns "Wells Fargo" (1937) and "Four Faces West" (1948).
They has three sons and were happily married for for 57 years until Joel McCrea's death in 1990. The McCrea family donated the ranch and family home to the Conejo Recreation and Park District and the home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ranch is available for rentals and public events. In the summertime they host outdoor screenings of Frances Dee and Joel McCrea films. Click HERE for more information. You can also read about the ranch history at McCreaRanchFoundation.org
While I found recipes in cookbooks attributed to both stars, their grandson Wyatt found Frances Dee's Brown Derby Cookbook from 1949 and she had bookmarked the page with the Paprika Chicken recipe. He said it was a favorite dish in their family. It sounded like the perfect thing to make.
Wyatt mentioned that his grandfather also LOVED chocolate chip cookies. We whipped up some using the 1930s recipe created by Ruth Wakefield of The Tollhouse Inn in eastern Massachusetts. You can find that recipe in the at NewEngland.com.
A lifelong lover of film, Wyatt is the oldest grandchild of actor Joel McCrea and his actress wife Frances Dee and he is deeply involved in the ongoing historical preservation of his film making grandparents. He has worked both as a producer and actor in television and film productions such as “Gen’s Guiltless Gourmet”, “Call 911”, “Big History”, “Canyon Trail”, the award winning documentary “Floating Horses – The Story of Casey Tibbs”, as well as many commercials and local theatrical productions. He is the co-author and contributing author to several books on Hollywood literature, film and television history. Wyatt is a multiple time co-emcee of the Western Heritage Awards and the Western Music Association Awards. He is the founder and board president of the Joel and Frances McCrea Ranch Foundation; Board member of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum – chairman of the Western Heritage Committee; past member of the Executive Committee for the Golden Boot Awards; Board Member of the Will Rogers Ranch Foundation; Board Member and past board president of RideOn Therapeutic Horsemanship; member of the Advisory Board for the Boys and Girls Club of Camarillo, CA; and member of the Advisory Committee for TOArts in Thousand Oaks, CA.
Betsy Metzgar is the lead docent at the Joel McCrea Ranch. Volunteering at the ranch combines two of Betsy's favorite interests: the classic film era and the ranching history of Ventura County where she resides.
Ruth Mundsack really loves being a part of the TCM community and she's a co-creator of a Classic Film Club in Long Beach, CA. She has been to several TCM Film Festivals and it gives her absolute joy to meet friends and be part of the classic film community or #MyTribe. If you want to follow her on Social Media she's @Cary_Grant_Girl on the Twitter, GirlattheBch on Instagram and Silver Screen LBC on Facebook.
Apologies in advance for the sound quality. We had to shoot this on Ruth's phone due to technical issues.
The Final Result
This was tasty and surprisingly easy to make! Due to the chicken broth, the juice was a bit thin so I added some flour to thicken it and create a gravy.
Frances Dee and Joel McCrea films
Wyatt and I decided to re-create this photo of his grandparents.
Here are some close up shots of the McCrea family kitchen and dining room.
Happy Trails and we hope you enjoyed this visit to the McCrea Ranch!