March was born in Racine, Wisconsin. He began as a banker, but an emergency appendectomy caused him to reevaluate his life, and in 1920 he began to be cast as an extra in movies made in New York. He appeared on Broadway in 1926, and won an Oscar nomination in 1930 for The Royal Family of Broadway, in which he played a role based upon John Barrymore.
March won the Oscar in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and again in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives. March was one of the few actors to resist the studios, and was able to pick and choose his roles, in the process also avoiding typecasting. By this time, he was working on Broadway as often as in Hollywood, and his screen career was not as prolific as it had been.
Throughout his life, he was a proponent of liberal political causes, and was a steady supporter of the Democratic Party. He died in Los Angeles, California).
Academy Awards and nominations
March has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at At 1616 Vine Street.