Oscar Actors: Bainter, Fay–Background, Career; Filmography

Research in progress: Sep 15, 2021

Fay Bainter Career Summary:

Occupational inheritance: No; her son was an actor

Social Class:

Birth: Los Angeles

Education: Child performer

Stage debut: 1908; age 15

Broadway debut: 1912; age 19

Film debut: This Side of Heaven, 1934; age 41

Oscar awards: 1, Supporting Actress, Jezebel 1938; age 45

Oscar nominations: 3 Oscar nominations (1 lead, 2 supporting)

Screen Image: Typecast–understanding mother, sympathetic matron

Other awards:

Career span: 23 years (1934-1961)

Last film: Children’s Hour, 1961; age 68

Death: 1968; age 74

Fay Bainter was born Born December 7, 1892 in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Charles F. Bainter and Mary Okell.

In 1910, she was a traveling stage actress.

She made her first appearance on stage in 1908 in “The County Chairman” at Morosco’s Theater in Burbank, California and her Broadway debut was in the role of Celine Marinter in “The Rose of Panama” in 1912.

She appeared in a number of successful plays in New York like East Is West, The Willow Tree, and Dodsworth.

In 1926, she appeared with Walter Abel in Broadway production of Channing Pollock’s “The Enemy.”

Her movie debut was in “This Side of Heaven” in 1934, the same year she appeared in the play “Dodsworth” on Broadway, and in the film “It Happened One Day.”

Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in Same Year

Bainter quickly achieved success, and in 1938 she became the first performer nominated in the same year for both the Best Actress for White Banners, and Best Supporting Actress for Jezebel, winning for the latter.

Since then, only nine other actors have won dual nominations in the same year.

In 1940, she played Mrs. Gibbs in the film version of Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town.”

In 1945, she played Melissa Frake in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “State Fair.”

In 1962, Fay appeared as a guest star on “The Donna Reed Show.”

Bainter first appeared in stock at the age of five. She made her Broadway debut in 1912.

In 1934, she appeared in her first film, This Side of Heaven.

In 1938, she was nominated for Academy Awards as both best actress (for White Banners) and best supporting actress (for Jezebel) and won in the latter category.

She was nominated again as best supporting actress for The Children’s Hour (1962), her last and grimmest role.

Screen Image:

Bainter was usually cast as an understanding mother or sympathetic matron.

Oscar Alert

In 1938, Bainter competed for the Best Actress Oscar with Bette Davis (who won) in “Jezebel,” Wendy Hiller in “Pygmalion,” Norma Shearer in “Marie Antoinette,” and Margaret Sullavan in “Three Comrades.”

In 1962, Bainter vied for the Supporting Actress with Patty Duke (who won) in “The Miracle Worker,” Mary Badham in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Shirley Knight in “Sweet Bird of Youth,” Angela Lansbury in “The Manchurian Candidate,” and Thelma Ritter in “Birdman of Alcatraz.”

Fay Bainter and Reginald Venable married on June 8, 1921 in Riverside, California.

The couple had one son, Reginald Venable Jr. (1926–1974), who became an actor.

Bainter was the aunt of actress Dorothy Burgess.

She died in Los Angeles on April 16, 1968; age 74.