|Born||June 16, 1924 or June 16, 1925
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||April 4, 1999
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Cancer (unspecified)|
|Spouse(s)||Teddy Stauffer (m. 1946–47)
Hugo Fregonese (m. 1947–58)
Paolo Cossa (m. 1966; d. 1996)
Faith Marie Domergue // (June 16, 1924 or 1925 – April 4, 1999) was an American television and film actress. Discovered at age eighteen by media and aircraft mogul Howard Hughes, she was signed to a contract with Hughes' RKO Radio Pictures. She was cast as the lead in the studio's thriller Vendetta, which had a troubled four-year production before finally being released in 1950.
Domergue went on to appear in a multitude of sci-fi and horror pictures, including Cult of the Cobra, It Came from Beneath the Sea, and The Atomic Man (all 1955), earning her a reputation as an early "scream queen." Domergue's later career was populated with B movies and television guest roles, with her final screen appearance being in The House of Seven Corpses (1974).
Domergue was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on June 16, 1924 or 1925 (sources differ). Domergue was of part-Creole descent. She was adopted by Adabelle Wemet when she was six weeks old. When Faith was 18 months old, Adabelle married Leo Domergue.
The family moved to California in 1928 where Domergue attended Beverly Hills Catholic School and St. Monica's Convent School. While a sophomore at University High School, she was signed to a Warner Brothers contract, and made her first on-screen appearance with an uncredited walk-on role in Blues in the Night (1941). The same year, she appeared on the cover of Photoplay as Faith Dorn; the name change, she later claimed, was "because Jack Warner was too stupid to pronounce Domergue."
1943–1950: Early work; Howard Hughes
After graduating in 1942, Domergue continued to pursue a career in acting, but after sustaining injuries in a near-fatal car accident, her plans were put on hold. While recuperating from the accident, she attended a party aboard Howard Hughes' yacht. Hughes was enamored with her, buying out her contract with Warner Brothers, and signed her to a three-picture deal with RKO. Domergue was cast as a lead in the thriller Vendetta (1950), which had a long and troubled production history, exacerbated by reshoots and multiple changes in director, as well as producer Hughes's health problems following a near-fatal plane crash he endured in July 1946. The production lasted over four years, and cost $3.5 million.
After the 1950 release of Vendetta, Domergue separated from Hughes. "I was told he spent five million dollars publicizing me," she said, "but [the] film was['nt properly] released. It was all wasted." By the time of Vendetta's premiere in 1950, Domergue was pregnant with her second child, and was residing in Palm Springs, having left Los Angeles. The film was criticized by The New York Times, with a review calling the film "a garrulous, slow and obvious period piece, weighed down by a profusion of exotic accents, undistinguished dialogue and unconvincing play acting. Mr. Hughes' troupe, however, has been set against a background of the wild, Corsican countryside, which does give the picture an atmosphere of suspenseful authenticity." In spite of the critical review of the film, Domergue's performance was given praise: "Faith Domergue, the heralded newcomer, is less than a fiery heroine. But despite the flamboyant lines that are her lot, the attractive Miss Domergue does occasionally contribute genuine emotional acting to the proceedings."
Following Vendetta, Domergue freelanced in the film noir Where Danger Lives (1950), playing a femme fatale opposite Robert Mitchum and Claude Rains. The film received a negative review by Bosley Crowther in The New York Times, and Domergue's performance was criticized for "manifest[ing] nothing more than a comparatively sultry appearance and an ability to recite simple lines."
1951–1959: Universal and sci-fi films
In 1953, after having lived briefly in England with her husband, Domergue returned to the United States, where she signed a contract with Universal Pictures. Her final credit for RKO was the 1954 drama This Is My Love; prior, she filmed Duel at Silver Creek (1952) with Universal, opposite Audie Murphy.
In 1955, Domergue appeared in another Western, Santa Fe Passage, playing an ammunition retailer opposite John Payne and George Keymas. Following this, Domergue appeared in a series of sci-fi monster and horror films, first Cult of the Cobra (1955), a film released by Universal Pictures focusing on six American Air Officers who witness a Lamian cult of snake worshippers. This was followed with a role in Columbia Pictures's It Came from Beneath the Sea, a sci-fi monster movie which was a major commercial success, grossing $1.7 million at the box office. The following year, Domergue starred in This Island Earth (1955), Universal's first color sci-fi film. The film received moderate critical praise for its performances and writing, as well as its inventive special effects. Domergue's tenure in horror pictures in the mid-1950s earned her a reputation as an early scream queen.
Beginning in late 1955, Domergue began to appear in British and European productions: first in The Atomic Man (1955) , directed by Ken Hughes, followed by a role in the British film noir Soho Incident (1956). This was followed by Man in the Shadow (1957; released in the United States as Violent Stranger), and the Italian-produced The Sky Burns (1958).
1960–1974: Late career and retirement
In the late 1950s and 1960s she made many appearances on popular television series, including Sugarfoot, Have Gun Will Travel, Bonanza, and The Rifleman. She appeared in two episodes of Perry Mason, starring Raymond Burr. In 1961 she played murderer Conception O'Higgins in "The Case of the Guilty Clients," and in 1963 she played murder victim Cleo Grammas in "The Case of the Greek Goddess." By the late 1960s, Domergue had lost interest in acting as a career; her last acting appearances were mainly in low-budget 'B' horror movies.
Domergue's last foray in sci-fi was Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965), an American version of a Russian film, mainly backed by Russian producers and populated with Russian actors. She began traveling to Rome, Italy, in 1952, and lived there for extended periods. She moved there permanently in 1968, and remained an expatriate in Rome, Geneva, Switzerland, and Marbella, Spain, until the death of her Roman husband, Paolo in 1991.
In the late 1960s, she appeared in several Italian giallo films, including Lucio Fulci's One on Top of the Other (1969), and Alberto De Martino's The Man with Icy Eyes (1971). Her final film credit was in The House of Seven Corpses (1974), an independent horror film shot in Salt Lake City.
In 1941, Domergue began an on-off relationship with Howard Hughes. After she discovered that Hughes was also seeing Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner, the couple broke up in 1943. She later wrote a book about her relationship with Hughes entitled My Life with Howard Hughes (1972).
In 1946, Domergue married bandleader Teddy Stauffer. The marriage lasted six months, ending in 1947. That same year, she married director Hugo Fregonese with whom she had two children, Diana Maria (b. 1949) and John Anthony (b. 1951). The couple divorced in 1958. In 1966, she married Paolo Cossa, with whom she remained until his death in 1992.
In popular culture
|1941||Blues in the Night||Jitterbug||Uncredited|
|1946||Young Widow||Gerry Taylor||Alternative title: The Naughty Widow|
|1949||Hardly a Criminal||
|1950||Where Danger Lives||Margo Lannington|
|1950||Vendetta||Colomba della Rabia|
|1952||Duel at Silver Creek, TheThe Duel at Silver Creek||Opal Lacy||Alternative title: Claim Jumpers|
|1953||Great Sioux Uprising, TheThe Great Sioux Uprising||Joan Britton|
|1954||This Is My Love||Evelyn Myer|
|1955||Santa Fe Passage||Aurelie St. Clair|
|1955||Cult of the Cobra||Lisa Moya|
|1955||This Island Earth||Dr. Ruth Adams|
|1955||It Came from Beneath the Sea||Professor Lesley Joyce||Alternative title: Monster from Beneath the Sea|
|1955||The Atomic Man||Jill Rabowski||Alternative title: Timeslip|
|1956||Soho Incident||Bella Francesi||Alternative title: Spin a Dark Web|
|1957||Man in the Shadow||Barbara Peters||Alternative title: Violent Stranger|
|1958||The Sky Burns||Anna||Alternative title: Il Cielo brucia|
|1958||Escort West||Martha Drury|
|1965||Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet||Dr. Marsha Evans||Additional material only, dubbed version of the Soviet film Planeta Bur (1962)|
|1967||Track of Thunder||Mrs. Goodwin|
|1969||Besieged||Lorenzo's mother||Alternative title: L'Amore breve|
|1969||One on Top of the Other||Marta||Alternative titles: Una sull'altra, Perversion Story|
|1970||Gamblers, TheThe Gamblers||Signora Del Isolla|
|1971||Blood Legacy||Veronica Dean||Alternative title: Legacy of Blood|
|1971||The Man with Icy Eyes||Mrs. Valdes||Alternative title: L'Uomo dagli occhi di ghiaccio|
|1974||So Evil, My Sister||Millie||Alternative titles: Psycho Sisters
|1974||The House of Seven Corpses||Gayle Dorian|
|1953||Revlon Mirror Theater, TheThe Revlon Mirror Theater||Laurie Rogers||1 episode|
|1953–1954||Lux Video Theatre||2 episodes|
|1954||Ford Theatre||1 episode|
|1954–1958||Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||
|1955||Celebrity Playhouse||1 episode|
|1956||Count of Monte Cristo, TheThe Count of Monte Cristo||Renee Morrell||1 episode|
|1957||Overseas Press Club - Exclusive!||Helen Zotos||1 episode|
|1959||Sugarfoot||Isabel Starkey||1 episode|
|1959||Bourbon Street Beat||Susan Wood||1 episode|
|1960||Colt .45||Suzanne Tremaine||1 episode|
|1960||Michael Shayne||Kara||1 episode|
|1961||77 Sunset Strip||Gretchen Jervis||1 episode|
|1961||Tall Man, TheThe Tall Man||Kate Elder||1 episode|
|1962–1963||Have Gun - Will Travel||
|1966||Combat!||Madame Fouchet||1 episode|
|1968||Garrison's Gorillas||Carla||1 episode|
- Hagen 2002, p. 49.
- Sources of Domergue's birth year vary; those that list 1924 include:
- "Obituaries: Faith Domergue; Film Star Contracted by Howard Hughes". The Los Angeles Times. April 17, 1999.
- Raw, Laurence (2012). Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films, 1930-1960. McFarland. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-786-44474-8.
- "Hollywood Femmes Fatales and Ladies of Film Noir". 3. Lulu Com. 2011. ISBN 978-1-257-77212-4.
- Vallance, Tom (May 11, 1999). "Obituary: Faith Domergue". The Independent. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
- Parla & Mitchell 2000, p. 59.
- Weaver 2011, p. 29.
- Parla & Mitchell 2000, p. 60.
- Weaver 2011, p. 31.
- Charyn 1996, p. 217–18.
- Parla & Mitchell 2000, pp. 59–60.
- "Faith Domergue: She Follows Harlow and Russell". Life. July 17, 1950.
- Weaver 2011, p. 32.
- "Movie Review -- At the Globe". The New York Times. December 26, 1950. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
- Crowther, Bosley (January 1, 1951). "THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; 'The Milkman,' at the Mayfair Shows Jimmy Durante and Donald O'Connor in Leads". The New York Times. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
- Weaver 2011, p. 33.
- Fitzgerald, Mike. "Faith Domergue". Western Clippings (Interview). Interview with Faith Domergue. Albuquerque, New Mexico. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- "Santa Fe Passage (1955)". Turner Classic Movies. American Film Institute. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
- "Cult of the Cobra (1955)". Turner Classic Movies. American Film Institute. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
- 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955' (January 25, 1956). Variety Weekly.
- H.H.T. (June 11, 1955). "'This Island Earth' Explored From Space". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
- Bergan, Ronald (May 17, 1999). "Faith Domergue". The Guardian. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- "Soho Incident (1956)". British Film Institute. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
- "Man in the Shadow (1957)". British Film Institute. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
- Westfahl, Gary (1999–2016). "Domergue, Faith". Gary Westfahl's Bio-Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Film. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
- Weaver 2011, p. 40.
- Weaver 2011, p. 41.
- "The Private Life and Times of Faith Domergue". Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
- Erickson, Hal. "Faith Domergue Biography". Fandango. Rovi. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
- Maltin, Leonard. "Overview for Faith Domergue". Turner Classic Movies. Penguin Group. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
- Carter 2003.
- Galloway, Doug (April 16, 1999). "Faith Domergue". Variety. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
- "Faith Domergue 1924-1999". November 8, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- Carter, Steven (2003). I Was Howard Hughes. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-582-34375-4.
- Charyn, Jerome (1996). Movieland: Hollywood and the Great American Dream Culture. New York University Press. ISBN 978-0-814-71550-5.
- Hagen, Ray (2002). Say How?: A Pronunciation Guide to Names of Public Figures. Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
- Parla, Paul; Mitchell, Charles P. (2000). Screen Sirens Scream!: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Science Fiction, Horror, Film Noir, and Mystery Movies, 1930s to 1960s. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0701-8.
- Weaver, Tom (2011). I Was a Monster Movie Maker: Conversations with 22 SF and Horror Filmmakers. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-46444-9.
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