Fay Compton

Active - 1914 - 1971  |   Born - Sep 18, 1894 in London, England, UK  |   Died - Dec 12, 1978 in London, England, UK  |   Genres - Drama

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British actress Fay Compton came from a formidable acting lineage; her father was actor/manager Edward Compton, and her grandfather was 19th-century theatrical luminary Henry Compton. Starting in the Follies staged by first husband H. G. Pelissier, Fay Compton made her mark in the plays of J. M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame). Fay in fact introduced several of Barrie's plays to London audiences, notably in the title role of Mary Rose in 1920. Active in the classics as well as contemporary material, Compton had the distinction of playing Ophelia opposite two of the most celebrated Hamlets, John Barrymore and John Gielgud. The actress' most significant successes in the 1930s were in two sophisticated comedies by Dodie Smith, Autumn Crocus and Call it a Day; in 1941, she created the role of Ruth in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. Compton's film work is not as well known or as highly regarded as her stage appearances, but she managed to squeeze in a good many screen roles between her movie debut in She Stoops to Conquer (1914) and her final appearance in Alex and the Gypsy (1970). The Fay Compton film performances most accessible to American audiences are Odd Man Out (1947), Laughter in Paradise (1951) Orson Welles' Othello (1952) and The Haunting (1963)--all made when her ingenue and young-sophisticate roles were behind her and when she was in her "Lady Bracknell" dowager period. Fay Compton was the mother of British director Anthony Pelisser, whose most significant film was The Rocking Horse Winner (1951).

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