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Frank Fay

Frank Fay (born Francis Anthony Donner; November 17, 1891 – September 25, 1961) was an American vaudeville comedian and film and stage actor. For a time, a well known and influential star, he later fell into obscurity, in part because of his abrasive personality and fascist political views. He is considered an important pioneer in stand-up comedy. He played the role of "Elwood P. Dowd" in the Broadway play Harvey by the American playwright Mary Coyle Chase. He is best known as actress Barbara Stanwyck's first husband. Their troubled marriage is thought by some to be the basis of the 1937 film A Star Is Born, in which the previously unknown wife shoots to stardom while her husband's career goes into sharp decline. Fay was notorious for his bigotry and alcoholism, and according to the American Vaudeville Museum, "even when sober, he was dismissive and unpleasant, and he was disliked by most of his contemporaries".

Although very talented, Fay offended most of the people he worked with because of his enormous ego. Former vaudevillian and radio star Fred Allen remarked, "The last time I saw him he was walking down Lover's Lane, holding his own hand." Actor Robert Wagner wrote that Fay was " of the most dreadful men in the history of show business. Fay was a drunk, an anti-Semite, and a wife-beater, and Barbara [Stanwyck] had had to endure all of that", while according to actor and comedian Milton Berle "Fay's friends could be counted on the missing arm of a one-armed man." Berle, who was Jewish, claimed to have once hit Fay in the face with a stage brace after Fay, on seeing Berle watching his act from offstage, called out, "Get that little Jew bastard out of the wings"..

Birth and Death Data: Born November 17th, 1891 (San Francisco), Died September 25th, 1961 (Santa Monica)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1918 - 1926

Roles Represented in DAHR: songwriter, tenor vocal


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-21939 10-in. 5/29/1918 When I send you a picture of Berlin (You'll know it's over 'over there,' I'm coming home) Arthur Fields ; Peerless Quartet Male vocal solo and male vocal quartet, with orchestra songwriter  
Victor [Trial 1926-11-12-01] 10-in. 11/12/1926 Hang out the sun, take in the moon Frank Fay Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, tenor vocal  
Columbia 77833 10-in. 5/18/1918 When I send you a picture of Berlin Arthur Fields ; Peerless Quartet Male vocal solo and male vocal quartet, with orchestra songwriter  
Edison 6234 10-in. between 6/17/1918 and 6/20/1918 When I send you a picture of Berlin (You'll know it's over, "Over there," I'm coming home) Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra songwriter  
Edison 6322 10-in. 8/12/1918 When I send you a picture of Berlin medley Jaudas' Society Orchestra Jazz/dance band songwriter  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Fay, Frank," accessed June 19, 2021,

Fay, Frank. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved June 19, 2021, from

"Fay, Frank." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 19 June 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier



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