“Portal to Portal: Politics, Show Business and Law in Eastern Michigan- and Beyond”

“The Picards of Cedar Street”

The Politician and Judge

Frank Albert Picard (1889-1963) was born on October 19, 1889 in Saginaw and was one of 12 children of Alfred and Zepherine (Legault) Picard. He was an attorney, a political figure, and federal judge  for the Eastern Michigan Federal District.

Frank Picard attended Saginaw High School, where he was a member of the student council and captain of the football team. After graduating from high school, Picard worked as a journalist on the Saginaw Daily News and Courier Herald, and was managing editor  of the Saginaw Exponent.

He entered the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he received an LL.B from the University of Michigan Law School in 1912 and was admitted to the bar in the State of Michigan the same year. He played he played college football for three years as for  the Michigan Wolverines from 1909 to 1911. He served an assistant prosecuting attorney for Saginaw County Michigan  in 1913 before commencing private practice  in Saginaw.

In May 1917, after four years in private practice, Picard entered the U.S. Army,  where he held the rank of captain and saw active service in France.

Captain Frank A. Picard is pictured (below) with colleague, on left and with his British and French Counterparts (on the right).  From August- November, 1918, Frank served on the General Staff in the 85th Division of Sixth Corps during the Meuse-Argonne offensives.


Like much of his family Frank was drawn to show business, wrote music, plays, short stories and was a talented dinner speaker. At an early age he hoped to become an gymnast, joining his brothers who performed as the “Brothers Picard French Gymnasts to circus audiences. Picard’s father, a hotelkeeper, disapproved and put an end to his sons’ circus dreams. Though Frank trained as an aerialist, he never worked in the circus. He remained interested in and aspired to be in show business throughout his life.

Frank A. Picard wrote a musical, “Say the Word” in, 1919. A complete copy can be found in the Library of Congress.

In 1919, Picard returned to Saginaw and resumed private practice. On June 8, 1921, Picard married Ruth Caroline Doersan of Saginaw. They had and four children, two boys and two girls named Frank II, Ruth Mary, John Alfred and Patricia. Frank would become a lawyer, politician and Federal Judge. After several state jobs he ran for office.  However, though popular, he was not successful.  He served as a U.S. District Judge in Bay City and Detroit and presided over the Federal Court at Bay City.

In 1920 Frank entered politics and ran for the Lieutenant Governorship of Michigan but was defeated. He served as city attorney  of the City of Saginaw from 1924 to 1928. Frank was a serious “wet” with regard to Prohibition, and ran as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention to ratify the 21st Amendment in 1933.  (The Ballot Announcement is below.)

When Politics was Important!

15From 1931 to 1934, Picard served as the first chairman of the Liquor Control Commission. Picard unsuccessfully ran as the Democratic  nominee for the U.S. Senate in the 1934 off year elections.  In a toughly contested election, he lost to incumbent Republican Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, 51.3 to 47 percent, a respectable vote considering Michigan at that point was a Republican leaning state.

Election Advertisement  for U.S. Senate, 1934.

In 1936 Frank was elected as a Roosevelt delegate  from Michigan’s 8th Congressional District to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, where he seconded Roosevelt’s renomination for President for a second term.The 1936 Democratic National Convention Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ran from June 23 to 27, 1936. On June 27 in his acceptance speech Roosevelt stated that the United States “Had a rendezvous with Destiny.”   There continued to be rumors of his entering politics from 19 34 through 1948.

Seconding Roosevelt’s Nomination.


On February 9, 1939,  President Roosevelt nominated Picard to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, a new seat created by 52 Stat. 584. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate  on February 16, 1939, he received his judicial commission on February 23, 1939.

He served as chief judge  from August 6, 1959, until 1959. Among Picard’s decisions was the Anderson v. Mt. Clemons Pottery Co., , dealing with a pottery factory in Mount Clemons, Michigan. Known as the “portal-to-portal overtime case,” the decision was heard by the Supreme Court  in 1946. There continued to be rumors of him reentering the risky world politics throughout the 1940s.  However, this would have required him to resign from a lifetime appointment on the bench, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Picard assumed senior status on March 31, 1959 and remained on the bench until his death in Saginaw on February 28, 1963.

When it came to politics, Frank was seriously partisan. “Gentlemen,” he wrote sarcastically  in 1924, “we are gathered here again today on a most momentous occasion. The Democratic Party is going to put a ticket in the field this year that is going to be victorious from the top to the bottom. ‘Aint I right now? Gentlemen, the Republican Party is rotten-always is rotten-always was rotten-and it always will be rotten. I would no more think of being a Republican than I would think of being a Socialist. You can’t be decent and be in the Republican Party.” (From: Frank A. Picard, “Before and After Taking: A Political Tragedy in Two Sides of the Fence” A One Act Play. Written in 1927.)

Photo: Frank A. Picard (with Frank A. Jr. and Helen Picard?” circa. 1927
The Portal to Portal Case, 1947 made the cover of Business Week.


Judge Frank Picard Unveiling of Court Room Portrait, c. late 1950s. Provided by Central Michigan University.Digital image copyright 2010 Central Michigan University. All rights reserved. For more information contact Clarke Historical Library at CMU.
A few Michigan Democratic friends, 1960. From left to right, Governor John Swainson, Judge Frank A. Picard, G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams (back) and in the corner Teamsters Union President Jimmy Hoffa with a passing Democratic candidate for President.
The Family
Frank A. Picard II, according to his family, long aspired to be an actor. 
The news photo below was published in 1940.
He saw action in the Second World War.  Here are two newspaper clippings that discuss his service.
Frank A. Picard, II 1944-1945.
Frank A. Picard II, 1945.

Frank Picard II after the war worked as a broadcaster, advertizing executive and actor on the stage and in film. He worked and lived most of his life in Detroit, but performed in New York and California where he appeared in a number of television programs. Ater moving to Los Angeles he appeared in “Cheech andChong’s Next Movie (1980), “Under the Influence” (1986),  “Sunnyside (1979) and “Those Lies, Those Eyes (1980). He also performed in the TV series, “Fame” where he played a monk, Brother Marcel. The episode can be seen at the following website:

Frank A. Picard II
Frank A. Picard II performing in Fame a TV Series which ran from 19882-1987.
This episode was from 1982.
Ruth Mary Picard

The Family: Sara Jane Campbell (b. 1956), Dr. Charles Garnet Campbell (1923-2009), Ruth Mary Picard Campbell (b.1924), Ann Bruce Campbell (b.1950), Margaret Mary (Meg) Campbell, (b.1952), Patricia Picard (Tracy) Campbell (b.1959), Judy Campbell (b. 1947) Scott James Campbell (b. 1957). Dog: Bridget Bardot (unsure of her dates!)Information provided by Meg Campbell and Ruth Mary Campbell.

The Picards who grew up on Cedar Street,  in Saginaw, October, 2011, Pat (Picard) Burbott, John A. Picard, Ruth Mary (Picard) Campbell.

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