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Actress Florence Eldridge Dead at 86

August 3, 1988

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) _ Florence Eldridge, a Broadway and film star and the widow of Oscar-winning actor Fredric March, has died at age 86.

Miss Eldridge, a resident of the nearby community of Montecito since 1980, died Monday in the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital, a nursing supervisor who declined to give her name said Tuesday. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Miss Eldridge, a resident of the nearby community of Montecito since 1980, died Monday in the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital, a nursing supervisor who declined to give her name said Tuesday. The cause death was not immediately known.

Miss Eldridge made her Broadway debut in 1918 as part of the chorus for the musical comedy ″Rock-a-Bye Baby.″ Later, she played the role of Daisy in the Broadway version of ″The Great Gatsby.″

She married March in 1927, and her husband, one of the top leading men of his time, won his first Academy Award four years later for his dual performances in ″Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.″

He won a second Oscar in 1946 for his portrayal of a returning World War II veteran in William Wyler’s classic, ″The Best Years of Our Lives.″

That latter performance, however, was not without its critics. Miss Eldridge told Broadway columnist Radie Harris that the couple’s daughter, Penny, wasn’t pleased with her father’s role.

″What was far more important to her was the embarrassing fact that her classmates saw her dad in his pajamas - and that he drank too much in the picture,″ she said.

Miss Eldridge appeared with her husband in such movies as ″Studio Murder Mystery,″ ″Les Miserables″ and ″Another Part of the Forest″ as well as on stage in ″The Skin of Our Teeth,″ Arthur Miller’s ’An Enemy of the People″ and Eugene O’Neill’s ″Long Day’s Journey into Night.″

The couple also worked together entertaining soldiers during World War II, and Miss Eldridge once said they logged 35,000 miles in overseas travel performing for U.S. troops.

Her husband died of cancer in 1975 at age 77.

Survivors include their daughter, Mrs. Umberto Fantacci of Florence, Italy; five grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; and two brothers.

Funeral services were to be private.

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