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 "...one 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 - 1931
Roles Represented in DAHR: tenor vocal, songwriter
|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|
|Brunswick||LTR296||10-in.||6/16/1930||Nobody knows||Frank Fay||Male vocal solo, with piano||vocalist, tenor vocal|
|Brunswick||LTR297||10-in.||6/16/1930||My family saves string||Frank Fay||Male vocal solo, with piano||vocalist, tenor vocal|
|Brunswick||LAT1125||12-in.||5/15/1931||Vacuum Oil program L, part 1||Frank Fay||Radio transcription disc : Male vocal solo||vocalist, tenor vocal|
|Brunswick||LAT1126||12-in.||5/15/1931||Vacuum Oil program L, part 2||Frank Fay||Radio transcription disc : Male vocal solo||vocalist, tenor vocal|
|Brunswick||LAT1127||12-in.||5/15/1931||Vacuum Oil program L, part 3||Frank Fay||Radio transcription disc : Male vocal solo||vocalist, tenor vocal|
|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 September 21, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108818.
Fay, Frank. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108818.
"Fay, Frank." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 21 September 2021.
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