Katharine Hepburn was a friend of McCrea's and McCrea's wife Frances Dee. Hepburn also felt that McCrea was one of the best actors she had ever worked with and was always disappointed that his career wasn't more successful (she thought he should have been ranking alongside Spencer Tracy or Humphrey Bogart).
A big sight gag in Sullivan's Travels (1941) was the juxtaposition of the big McCrea with his leading lady, Veronica Lake, who apparently was 16 inches shorter. For some shots of the film, however, Lake had to stand on a box so their heads could be seen in the same shot.
According to David Ragan's Stars of the '30s, the McCreas were prodigious savers, accumulating a large estate, which included working-ranch properties. Joel McCrea's work ethic was in part attributed to his Scottish heritage and it also may have stemmed from his friendship in the 1930s with Will Rogers. McCrea recounted that "the Oklahoma Sage" gave him a profound piece of advice: "Save half of what you make, and live on just the other half."
Attended high school with future director Jacques Tourneur who would later direct him in Stars in My Crown (1950) (one of McCrea's personal favorites) and a pair of 1955 releases, Wichita (1955) and Stranger on Horseback (1955).
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 574-575. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
Had blue eyes.
He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 1719 Vine Street and for Radio at 6241 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
He was infamously modest about his own acting abilities, often bordering on a soft-spoken contempt.
His father, Thomas P. McCrea , was a secretary for the Los Angeles gas and electric company. His mother, Lou Whipple McCrea, was a professional Christian Science practitioner.
In 1920, he lived with his parents at 7755 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.
In 1930, he lived with his parents at 243 S. Rockingham Avenue, Los Angeles.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1969.
Joel 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.
McCrea - who was an outdoorsman who had once listed his occupation as "rancher" and his hobby as "acting" - had begun buying property as early as 1933, when he purchased his first 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) in what was then an unincorporated area of eastern Ventura County, California, but later became Thousand Oaks, California. This was the beginning of what became a 3,000-acre (12 km2) spread on which McCrea and his wife Frances lived, raised their children, and rode their horses.
The grandson of a western stagecoach driver who had fought against the Apaches, McCrea raised his own horses, was a passionate outdoors man and large-scale rancher, invested wisely in livestock and real estate, was a staunch Republican and frugal millionaire.
Very well-respected as a horseman, he was regarded as one of the two best riders in Western films along with Ben Johnson, who had been a real cowboy.