Monday, December 7, 2015

Faye + Fay (for Fay or Faye)

Fay Okell Bainter was born this day in Los Angeles in 1893. While no longer exactly a "household name," she was a very fetching and talented actress back in the day. She has often been described as dignified and reserved, classy, but exceedingly pleasant. She deserves to have her name spelled right. By the age of fifteen, Fay Bainter had begun acting on stage, and in 1912 she debuted on Broadway in The Rose of Panama. She stayed there for the next twenty years, but was eventually launched onto the silver screen in 1934, in the MGM film This Side of Heaven. That year she also appeared in the Broadway play Dodsworth and the film It Happened One Day. In 1938 Bainter was nominated "Best Actress" for White Banners and "Best Supporting Actress" for Jezebel, winning an Oscar for the latter, and garnering the distinction of being the first performer to have been nominated for two roles in the same year. (There have been only nine others since then.) She was in the film adaptation of Thornton Wilder's play Our Town; the Tracy-Hepburn vehicle Woman of the Year; the wonderful movie Make Way for Tomorrow; and many more. Her final role was that of the imposing Mrs. Tilford in the 1961 version of Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour. Fay Bainter even appeared on the Donna Reed Show one time, which somehow strikes me as charmingly apt. There were 26 instances of Faye + Fay in OhioLINK today, and 339 in WorldCat.

(Portrait of Fay Bainter, by Robert Henri in 1918, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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