Saturday, June 21, 2008

In Search of.....Frances McCoy

In Search of…..Frances McCoy

Frances McCoy was an actress who had the distinction of appearing in the first movie featuring the men who would later become known as The Three Stooges: Moe Howard, Shemp Howard, and Larry Fine.

The movie was “Soup to Nuts”, a 1930 Fox Film, which starred Ted Healy. Healy used ‘stooges’ in his vaudeville act for several years, and Fox signed all of them to appear in this comedy.

Frances appeared in a few musical shorts in the 1930s also, but that seemed to be the last of her movie career.

For several years, a group of us have been trying to locate, or find out whatever happened to, Frances McCoy. The group is comprised of Frank Reighter, Gary Lassin, Ed Shifres, Rich Finegan, and myself, among a few others - we’re all fans and researchers of anything/anybody and everything/everybody pertaining to The Three Stooges. One of the things we’ve been doing, and have had a high degree of success with, is locating supporting players in their movies.

Biographical information, including birth and death years, is readily available, for all of the leading players in “Soup to Nuts”, except for Frances McCoy. There is some information on her, but nothing that’s led us to finding her or whatever became of her.

According to a biographical profile in a Motion Picture Almanac, Frances McCoy was born in New York City on December 25, 1912 (1911 has been given in a studio contract). Her mother’s name was Harriet. She lived in The Bronx and attended Roosevelt High School.

US Census Records have been searched for listings for Frances and her mother, for 1920 and 1930, first for New York, then for California, and finally for the entire U.S. There is no record for them under those names.

I’ve checked the Index of Births at the Municipal Archives in NYC, and did not find an entry for any ‘female-McCoy’ born on December 25, 1907-1913. Assuming that Frances returned to New York after her Hollywood days, I’ve checked the NYC Death Index books in the Genealogical Section of the NY Public Library for any entries for Frances or Harriet, from 1956-early 1980s, and while a few names were found, the ages were no where near what would have been appropriate.

I’ve also checked the California Death Index for any Frances and Harriet McCoy, but again nothing age-appropriate was found.

I searched Manhattan/Bronx City Directories for the late 1920s and into the early 1930s, and found Frances and Harriet only once, in 1933, residing at 2390 Davidson Avenue, Apt. 2D, in The Bronx. Frances was listed as the “Head of Household” - occupation actress, and Harriet was listed as “Resident” - occupation fur finisher.

The Fox Film Legal Department has on file, a contract from March 20, 1930, between Fox and Harriet McCoy, as mother to Frances McCoy (who was a minor at the time). Their New York City address is given as 314 East 206th Street, which is in The Bronx.

On October 27, 1930, the Los Angeles Times published an article about Frances McCoy suffering from nervous exhaustion (a polite way of calling it a nervous breakdown) and referred to her returning home to The Bronx, where she was residing at 2390 Davidson Avenue. Since this is the same address as the 1933 City Directory, it’s the last known address for Frances McCoy.

So now that our group has exhausted every possible source available, we’re asking for assistance from anybody who may have something to share about Frances McCoy.

Please contact either me at or Frank Reighter at

We’ll be most grateful for any information provided that may help us find out whatever became of Frances McCoy.

Below are a few scenes from "Soup to Nuts", the first two picturing Frances at her 'job' as receptionist:

With Lucille Browne and Ted Healy:
With Ted Healy:

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