As Reggie Kray s first wife , Frances Shea is a vital role in the Krays story and legend. However, she often is cast by the media as stupid, nervous and a victim. A casualty of the Krays brutality.
In the 1990 biopic starring the Kemp brothers , the first time I ever heard of Frances, she was shown as a stupid yet neurotic and clingy girl who was dominated to such an extent by Reggie she couldn’t even choose her own friends or what clothes to wear.
Her part in the story was that of the much loved yet oppressed wife who unable to cope took her own life.
I ll admit it was intriguing yet very sad to watch.
Then came along legend in 2015 which showed her in a completely different light – a strong young woman who just wanted reg to be normal , yet was despised by his mother and brother and beaten by reg and also sexually abused causing her to kill herself . It even had Frances narrating the storyline giving her the vital place in the history of the krays but still portraying her as the victim.
Strange that both films could portray one woman so differently yet still come up with the same ending. And when both were made with input from firstly the krays themselves in the 1990 version ( which incidentally they hated and claimed was completely wrong) and associates in Legends case it does make you question how accurate both portrayals were especially when you factor in none of Frances family were ever asked to contribute.
Add to the mix the only biography of Frances to have been written in 2008 and revised in 2015 entitled The Tragic Bride by Jackie Hyams and you see history has well and truly decided Frances role in the entire Krays story.
But at least The Tragic Bride did bring more information regarding Frances into consciousness, information that had deliberately been ignored because it didn’t fit the mould shaped for her.
In fact , the real Frances was extremely intelligent having attended grammar school and had worked in administration in the West End of London. There was more to her than the average gangsters moll. She had brains as well as the looks.
Also it was revealed though unfortunately not considered that she had suffered from mental illness from the age of 13 and rather than causing her death it was Reggie who was the one who desperately tried to get her help even paying for private treatment and hospital stays in vain attempts to make her well.
Conveniently ignored for the sake of a juicy story I strongly suspect.
Which is why I’m so thrilled that Frances niece ,also named Frances has , after all these years , decided to speak out to not only defend both her aunt and uncle but to make sure her aunt does not go down in history as a victim.
On her Facebook group she has over 3k members who she very generously shares personal stories about both Frances and Reggie and memories that she holds dearly.
Already we are learning that Frances was actually quite a feisty lady who gave as good as she got , who was deeply in love with reg as he was her and that the nasty and disgusting rumours surrounding their marriage are false.
She is currently writing a book which will give not only great insight into Frances, Reg and Ron but also put to rest a lot of false allegations, information that has never been shares before.
Frances Shea does have a place in history and it isn’t the role she has been assigned – isn’t it about time this lady and her remaining family were shown some respect ? Isn’t it time for the truth to be told ?