Myrna Fahey

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Myrna Fahey
MyrnaFahey3.jpg
Myrna Fahey in House of Usher
Born(1933-03-12)March 12, 1933
Carmel, Maine, U.S.
DiedMay 6, 1973(1973-05-06) (aged 40)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Resting placeMount Pleasant Catholic Cemetery, Bangor, Maine
OccupationActress
Years active1954–1973

Myrna Fahey (March 12, 1933 – May 6, 1973) was an American actress known for her role as Maria Crespo in Walt Disney's Zorro and as Madeline Usher in The Fall of the House of Usher.

She appeared in episodes of 37 television series from the 1950s into the 1970s, including Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Time Tunnel with Robert Colbert, Maverick with James Garner, 77 Sunset Strip with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Laramie, Gunsmoke with James Arness, The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Daniel Boone with Fess Parker, Perry Mason with Raymond Burr, and Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward.

Early years[edit]

Myrna Elisabeth Fahey was born in Carmel, Maine, near Bangor, the youngest of three children for Francis Edward Fahey and Olivia Newcomb. She attended Carmel Grammar School until age six, along with her older brothers.[1] By early 1940[2] the family had moved to Southwest Harbor, where her father took a job at the Manset Boat Yard.[3]

As a youngster she was active in the Girl Scouts,[4] swimming,[5] acrobatics, and took dancing lessons.[6] Fahey did her secondary education at Pemetic High School in Southwest Harbor, where she performed in musicals, plays, and took part in public speaking events.[7] Despite her short stature, she was athletic, outscoring all other girls in her school to win a state-level Girls Athletic Association award.[8] She took part in her school's wilderness exploring club, was a cheerleader for four years, and captain of the girl's undefeated varsity basketball team.[9][7]

Drama school and beauty contests[edit]

She graduated from high school in June 1951[10] and worked briefly at a retail job in Bangor.[11] The following October she enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse[12] Unable to find acting work after her drama school stint, she returned to Maine in late spring 1952. Having been chosen Miss Mount Desert Island 1950 and Miss Poultry Queen of Hancock County 1951 while in high school,[12] she decided to enter the Miss Maine contest. At the state fair in August 1952, representing Bangor, she came in first runner-up to winner Norma Lee Collins.[13] Fahey immediately entered another beauty contest the following month, winning the Miss Maine Cosmetology 1952 title.[14]

Start in television[edit]

Her placement in the Miss Maine contests brought her to the attention of Hollywood scouts. Encouraged by their overtures, she returned to California and found work at local television station KHJ in Los Angeles. She served as one of the fashion model hostesses on Queen for a Day and did photo shoots and general publicity events for the station's advertisers and other programs.[15][16] Her first real acting job was for a television anthology series, Cavalcade of America, appearing on episode "Margin for Victory".[17]

Fahey continued doing occasional work on KHJ through 1954. She also did fashion modeling for the Broadway department store.[18] Her first real break came in March 1955 when Warner Brothers gave her a small uncredited part in what was then called A Handful of Clouds but was later released as I Died a Thousand Times.[11] She did well enough in her first film that the studio also used her for its premiere television program, Warner Brothers Presents. This show had three rotating series; Myrna Fahey had a feature role in the first episode of King's Row.

Interlude[edit]

However, the Warners job finished during summer 1955, so Myrna Fahey committed to an extended publicity campaign for the title of Miss Rheingold.[19] This commercial beauty contest lasted from August through October 1955. It featured six "finalists", all aspiring actresses, whom the general public could vote for at various venues around the country. Though she didn't win, Myrna Fahey received a lot of national publicity from personal appearences and newspaper photos. Publicity of a different sort came from syndicated columnist Harrison Carroll, who reported in December 1955 that she was at the Cocoanut Grove night club with Frank Sinatra associate Nick Sevano.[20]

In January 1956, Myrna Fahey was selected to be a "Baby Star", a short-lived attempt to revive the old WAMPAS annual tradition.[21] It fizzled, and so did Myrna's career for the rest of the year. She had no performing work, and was relegated to doing "hostess" bits for public events.[22]

Breakthrough[edit]

With the beginning of 1957 Myrna had a steady stream of film and television work, though her roles in the former were still small and uncredited. She moved from Burbank to a large apartment in Beverly Hills that she shared with her mother, and registered as a Republican.[23] [24] [25]

Matinee Theater, an anthology series that presented a new hour-long movie every afternoon, was her mainstay for television work at this time. She did many of these live original productions during 1957, though the titles of some are no longer known.[26] Myrna Fahey also did a lot of work for Disney Studios in the fall of 1957 that would not be released or broadcast until the following year. Starting about this time some columnists compared Myrna Fahey's looks with Elizabeth Taylor,[27] though Myrna had bright green eyes[28] quite unlike Taylor's distinctive violet.

At the end of 1957 Myrna Fahey had her first professional stage role, with a principal part in the Pasadena Playhouse production of Holiday for Lovers, later made into a 1959 film. Reviewer Franklin Argyle said "Myrna Fahey (Betsy Dean) is a fine actress confined to a lightweight part".[29]

Later life[edit]

Fahey became an avid skier in California. She invested in stocks and one of her contracts stipulated that she have a stock ticker in her dressing room. In addition to dating baseball player Joe DiMaggio, she dated actor George Hamilton.[30]

Fahey became the subject of death threats while dating baseball great Joe DiMaggio in 1964. The FBI determined the threats came from a patient at the Agnews Developmental Center, a mental hospital in San Jose, California. Apparently the patient could not bear to see DiMaggio with anyone other than Marilyn Monroe, who died in 1962.

Fahey died on May 6, 1973, at age 40, at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, after a long battle with cancer. She is buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Bangor, Maine.[31]

Film and television work[edit]

Fahey complained in a 1960 interview that she was being typecast in "good girl" roles because of what directors called her "moral overtones," even though she wanted to play darker and more complicated characters.[32] She had worked in many Westerns in the late 1950s, usually in the role of the sheriff's daughter, including an appearance on Gunsmoke in 1958 (an episode entitled: "Innocent Broad"). She also appeared in a supporting role in "Duel at Sundown", a notable episode of Maverick with James Garner, featuring Clint Eastwood as a trigger-happy villain. In another appearance in ‘‘Maverick’’ she starred as Dee Cooper, the owner of a cattle ranch, in conflict with Maverick’s herd of sheep. She starred in two episodes of Wagon Train, "The Jane Hawkins Story" (1960) and "The Melanie Craig Story" (1964), and an episode of Straightaway, "Troubleshooter," in 1961. Her image branched out in the 1960s, helped by House of Usher and a role on the Boris Karloff TV series Thriller that same year entitled "Girl with a Secret". Even her Western parts became "darker." After a rough love scene in the 1960 episode of Bonanza "Breed of Violence", in which she cut her lip, the cast presented her with an award for "Best Slapper in a Filmed Series".[33]

Fahey's most sustained television work was a starring role in the one-season (1961–62) series Father of the Bride, based on a film of the same name starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor.[34] Fahey likely got the role because, as one newspaper reviewer pointed out, she "looks enough like Liz Taylor to be her sister."[35] Fahey was not flattered by the comparison, however, telling one interviewer "the fact that I'm supposed to look like Elizabeth Whats-Her-Name had nothing to do with my getting [the part], because we don't really look alike I don't think, we just happen to have the same colorings."[36] Fahey wanted to be released from the show even before it came up for renewal, reportedly feeling too much emphasis was being placed on the "father" character and not enough on her "bride".[37] She also portrayed Jennifer Ivers on the TV version of Peyton Place.[34]:828-829

Fahey made four guest appearances on the drama series Perry Mason: Lydia Logan in the 1960 episode, "The Case of the Nimble Nephew"; defendant Grace Halley in the 1961 episode "The Case of the Violent Vest"; murder victim Myrna Warren in the 1965 episode "The Case of the Gambling Lady"; and defendant Holly Andrews in the 1966 episode "The Case of the Midnight Howler". In 1966, she played Blaze in the Batman episodes "True or False-Face" and "Holy Rat Race".

Filmography[edit]

Film (by year of first release)
Year Title Role Notes
1955 I Died a Thousand Times Margie (Uncredited) Working title was A Handful of Clouds[11] but took the final title from another WB film then renamed The Steel Jungle[38]
1957 Loving You 3rd Autograph Seeker (Uncredited)
Jeanne Eagels Girl (Uncredited)
1958 The Light in the Forest Hannah Moore (Uncredited) Filmed in 1957; for an uncredited role it brought lots of publicity[39]
1959 Imitation of Life Iris Dawn (Uncredited)
Face of a Fugitive Janet Hawthorne Her first credited film role, this had the working title of Justice Ends with a Gun[40]
The Story on Page One Alice
1960 House of Usher Madeline Usher
Television: 1953-1959 (in original broadcast order)
Year Series Episode Role Notes
1953 Queen for a Day (Game Show) Herself (Uncredited) She displayed and modeled prizes for an unknown number of episodes[41]
1954 Cavalcade of America Margin for Victory Story set during the Revolutionary War about the Culper spy ring[42]
1955 This Is Your Music A Touch of Paris Herself Billed as "Guest Dancing Star" for this local show on KNXT in Los Angeles[43]
King's Row Lady in Fear Renee
1957 Matinee Theater Night Train to Chicago Her character was one of eight people in a railway car facing a crisis[44]
Matinee Theater The Queen of Spades Juana Her co-star was John Barrymore Jr in this adaption of Pushkin's classic[45]
The West Point Story Cold Peril Nora
Matinee Theater (Unknown Episodes) Interviews mention she did up to eight Matinee Theater shows but only three are known for sure.
The Lost Survivors She and William Hudson portrayed publicity shy airplane crash survivors[46]
1958 Zorro Shadow of Doubt Maria Crespo
Garcia Stands Accused Maria Crespo
Slaves of the Eagle Maria Crespo
Burns and Allen Ronnie's Fan Club Barbara Westrope
Harbor Command Killer on My Doorstep Vivian Garland This episode was also known as Held Hostage
Burns and Allen The Publicity Marriage Barbara Westrope
Gunsmoke Innocent Broad Linda Bell
Zorro The Man with a Whip Maria Crespo
The Adventures of Superman All That Glitters Miss Dunn
The Gray Ghost The Hero Barbara
Flight Flight Surgeon WAF Operator
Dragnet That she appeared on the show is known only from a beauty tips column[47]
Tom Swift Pilot Episode Tom's Girlfriend This was an unsold pilot produced by Jack Wrather with Gary Vinson as Tom Jr[48]
Burns and Allen The Grammar School Dance Barbara Westrope (Uncredited)
The Ed Wynn Show Sincerely, Sam Hill Pauline Her recurring character was a small town college co-ed in need of housing[49]
77 Sunset Strip A Nice Social Evening Madge She had a short scene and several lines but was uncredited in this crowded episode
The Bob Hope Show Deb Stars of 1958 Herself Bob Hope's annual parade of "new" talent; like Myrna, most with several years of credits[50]
The Ed Wynn Show Lover's Lane Pauline It's likely Myrna appeared on more episodes of this series than can be documented[51]
1959 The Ed Wynn Show New York Adventure Pauline The last known episode for her recurring character on this already cancelled series[52]
Maverick Duel at Sundown Susie Though credited, she had only two 20 second scenes with one or two lines in each
77 Sunset Strip Conspiracy of Silence Helen Charles Seen only for thirty seconds during the episode's opening
Colt .45 The Escape Sue
Death Valley Days Half a Loaf Helen
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Pilot Girl #2 Pilot show for CBS; she was both uncredited and stuck behind a fence[53]
Hawaiian Eye Dangerous Eden Kay Laniel Credit crawl was correct but newspaper publicity releases misspelled her last name as "Fayhey"[54]


Television: 1960 - 1973 (in original broadcast order)
Year Series Episode Role Notes
1960 77 Sunset Strip Who Killed Cock Robin Lynn Wells
Maverick A Flock of Trouble Dee Cooper
Hawaiian Eye Second Fiddle Della Kandinsky
Overland Trail Vigilantes of Montana Harriet Plummer
Perry Mason The Case of the Nimble Nephew Lydia Logan
Bachelor Father Bentley and the Travel Agent Francine Pettigrew
The Alaskans Calico Calico
Maverick Mano Nera Carla Marchese
Bonanza Breed of Violence Dolly Kincaid
Thriller Girl with a Secret Alice Page
Wagon Train The Jane Hawkins Story Jane Hawkins Columnist Allen Rich noted Myrna guest starred on this NBC show... [55]
Hawaiian Eye The Contenders Laura Steck ...the same night (Nov 30th) she guest starred on this ABC series [55]
Surfside 6 The International Net Ann Trevor
77 Sunset Strip The Dresden Doll Dolly Stewart
1961 The Americans The Invaders Ruth
Checkmate Jungle Castle Marylu Keyes
Acapulco Death is a Smiling Man
Perry Mason The Case of the Violent Vest Grace Halley
Father of the Bride (All 34 Episodes) Katherine "Kay" Banks From Sep 29th, 1961 thru Jun 2nd, 1962: Her only television role as a series regular
Surfside 6 Pattern for a Frame Valerie Grant
Straightaway Troubleshooter April Moore
1962 The Hour of St Francis Episode of January 1, 1962 Our Lady of Guadeloupe Despite the name, this was a 30 minute anthology series made by a crew of amateur Franciscans, with the actors working pro bono[56]
Here's Hollywood Episode of May 31, 1962 Herself Candid interview show filmed in stars homes [57]
Laramie Lost Allegiance Sharon Helford
1963 77 Sunset Strip The Night Was Six Years Long Janie Maynor Benton
Hawaiian Eye The Sisters Nora Cobinder
1964 Wagon Train The Melanie Craig Story Melanie Craig
The Reporter Vote for Murder Marilinn Shipp
Kraft Suspense Theatre The Wine-Dark Sea Honora Malone
1965 Daniel Boone The Price of Friendship Sara
Kraft Suspense Theatre Nobody Will Ever Know Mrs. Janet "Jan" Banning
Perry Mason The Case of the Gambling Lady Myrna Warren
Laredo Three's Company Emily Henderson
1966 Perry Mason The Case of the Midnight Howler Holly Andrews
Batman True or False Face Blaze
Batman Holy Rat Race Blaze
1967 The Time Tunnel The Walls of Jericho Rahab Irwin Allen cast her after seeing a screen test she did for The Chase[58]
Rango The Not So Good Train Robbery Kit Clanton
1969 Peyton Place Episode #5.43 Jennifer Ivers
Peyton Place Episode #5.45 Jennifer Ivers
Peyton Place Episode #5.46 Jennifer Ivers
1971 Monty Nash The Friendliest Town in the South Roxanne
Marcus Welby, M.D. The Best Is Yet to Be Grace Ashley
1973 The Great American Beauty Contest (TV Movie) Miss Utah Chaperone The producers devised her bit part solely to help maintain her industry health benefits during her final illness[59]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Present "Tom Sawyer" at Southwest Harbor". The Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Maine. May 16, 1940. p. 10 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Emblem of Honor". The Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Maine. September 7, 1942. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Girl Scouts Have Week's Outing". The Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Maine. June 26, 1944. p. 8. Retrieved December 23, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Girl Scout Honors". The Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Maine. July 13, 1943. p. 16 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Old Town Bible School Closes Sunday Night". The Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Maine. July 10, 1943. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ a b "Pemetic High Notes". The Bangor Daily News. Bangor, Maine. January 29, 1951. p. 6 – via Newspapers.com.
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