American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 50

Frank Fay

1897 — 1961


Forgotten today, except as the actor who originated the role of Mary Chase’s Broadway hit, Harvey, Frank Fay was one of the brighter and more innovative monologists between the two World Wars. His relaxed, ironic style influenced a generation of stand-up comedians. A wit, a master of repartee, Fay vanquished other comedians who tried to best him

Behind the sophistication and bonhomie, Fay was a troubled, bigoted man; alcohol fueled his rage and he ended up in brawls that provided scandal for tabloids. Even when sober, he was dismissive and unpleasant, and he was disliked by most of his contemporaries.