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Robert Francis

Actor. Born Robert Charles Francis in Glendale, California to James and Lillian Francis, the youngest by a decade of three children. An excellent skier, he once had ambitions for the US Olympic team, but in 1950 he was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout and was persuaded to take acting classes. After a hiatus of two years in military service he attended the Batomi Schneider Drama Workshop, which led to a screen test for Columbia Pictures. On its strength he earned a contract and the pivotal role of Willie Keith in 1954's "The Caine Mutiny." After his debut he was voted one of Hollywood's Promising Personalities of 1954. Capitalizing on his rising star, Columbia quickly cast him in "They Rode West" for which he earned solid reviews. The following year he appeared in "The Bamboo Prison" followed by 1955's "The Long Gray Line." He was then loaned to MGM in order to appear in "Tribute to a Bad Man" and was scheduled to travel to the film location in Wyoming to begin filming. A little more than a week before his departure, he piloted a Beechcraft Bonanza with passengers George Meyer and starlet Ann Russell out of Burbank. Immediately after their 5 p.m. takeoff the plane's engine began sputtering and then lost power over Restland Cemetery. Francis managed to avoid crashing into a crowd at neighboring Valhalla Memorial Park, but the craft burst into flames as he attempted to land on a parking lot near Lockheed Air terminal, killing all on board. Eyewitnesses reported he had a poor and wobbly takeoff. Francis apparently did not possess a pilot's rating or certificate and the Civil Aeronautics Administration investigation determined that pilot error was responsible for the crash. His burial was held at Forest Lawn two days after the accident.

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 17 Oct 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6679
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Francis (26 Feb 1930–31 Jul 1955), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6679, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .