Fay Morley (Lisa Carroll)

I already  noted a few times in this blog that, after writing about than 200 obscure actresses, I am not that easily impressed. However, Fay Morley really blew me of. What an incredible woman with an incredible life! Singer, songwriter, actress, all around entertainer, toy designer, educator, and the list goes on! Let’s learn more about this unusual, stunning lady!

EARLY LIFE

Fay Blossom Mogul was born in 1930 in Bismarck, North Dakota, to Freda Suzar and Manuel Mogul. Her older brother Marlowe Arnold was born in 1926 in Minnesota. Her father was a department store manager and the family was well off, employing a maid at the time of Fay’s birth.

Fay grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was determined to come an actress very early, and by her teens years was taking part in acting and singing competitions. She was supported by her parents who were also showbiz aficionados – her dad was an amateur singer and her mom wanted to become an actress when she was younger.

The family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in the late 1930s, and a few years later to Compton, California, where her father became the owner of a cigar stand. Fay attended Compton High School, and during that time won a singing scholarship and went to New York where she studied with vocal coach Madame Olsa Eisner.

Fay wanted to pursue a career in opera singing, but first she entered UCLA as a music and drama major. She took part in numerous theater shows and slowly but surely gained experience. Ultimately, she never finished her degree because she got an offer to be in pictures and got a gig in the Pasadena playhouse. And this is how her movie career started!

CAREER

Fay appeared in only a few movies and some TV shows, as her main body of work was singing, her acting career was quite slim. her first movie was River of No Return, where she played a dance girl. The movie is considered a classic today and features a very interesting pairing – Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, and they somehow work. Mitchum was the gritty, no pretense and superficiality, hard-as-nails tough guy, and Marilyn was his in many things his antithesis – she was all blonde hair, excessive publicity pomp and careful, very conscious grooming. However, her innate sexiness and indescribable depth rub well of his minimalist, slightly brutal style. Sadly this is not a particularly good movie, with a lackluster story and only mediocre directing by Otto Preminger.

Her next movie was Battle Cry, a solid but sadly forgotten war film about US marines but told from a highly realistic perspective of life outside the battle-zone. The beginning and middle of the film deal with training, every day life, social norms and shipping of the marines to New Zealand. The last third shows us some action, but this mis-mash of genres only works half well, since most people who prefer drama will not be engaged in this part and anyone after a action war movie will never make it this far. Kudos to Van Helfin, always excellent in his roles, as the leading character.

Up next, Fay had her most meaty role in The Shrike, about a dysfunctional marriage between a stage director and his actress wife.  Fay played a problematic actress in conflict with June Allyson, the leading lady. I for one loved this movie, it’s such a raw, realistic story and leaves you with a bunch of intense feeling after watching (this is what I want my movies to do!). The performances are all first class. I generally dislike June (too squeaky clean, goodie two shoes actress with no intriguing depths), but she is actually really good here,and Jose Ferrer is pure gold!

Next came One Desire, a typical Universal drama of the 1950s – overtly dramatic, shallow of story (about a gambler and a showgirl trying to make it in the wild west) and with impossibly beautiful people suffering in a myriad of highly improbable ways. Granted, I may be too rough on these movies- they are actually often not that bad, just too stagey and artificial, and often the actor make up for it. Here we have Rock Hudson, Ann Baxter and Natalie Wood (whom I absolutely adore!), so there is enough talent to make up for any other fallacies.

Fay got some major newspaper coverage when she appeared in Diane, an overblown historical drama that is all performance and no substance – everything is beautiful but lifeless. The story concerns Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of kind . Diane is played by Lana Turner, and boy is she a mixed bag! While overall a weak actress, she did possess a certain sex appeal and charisma that was hard to ignore and what made her a star (not a real actress, but a star). In some movies it works, in some it does not. Here is works as times but let’s say she’s okay. Roger Moore, as the king, looks too young and lost amid all the lavish sets (and frankly looks ridiculous in period grab). The best role is played by the fabulous Marisa Pavan as the scheming Catherine de Médici. Fay and five other luscious girl splayed Diane’s ladies in waiting.

Except for some TV work, was that was it from Fay!

PRIVATE LIFE

In 1953, Fay was in a very serious car accident that could have ended not only her career but literary her life. After singing at the Hollywood Bowl, Fay was offered an audition with the New York Metropolitan Opera (or Warner Bros, the accounts differ). On the way to the audition, a tragedy happened. Here are some details of the accident:

Fay Morley, 22, actress and singer, and her mother, Frieda Mogel, 47, yesterday announced they’d reached “a very satisfactory settlement” of their $273,000 automobile injury suits, just as a jury was being selected. Their announcement was by their attorneys, Edward and David Pollack, In the courtroom of Superior Judge Clarence L. Kincaid. The suits grew out of injuries received by the two women in a three-car crash, Jan. 3, 1953, near Barstow, in” which four persons were killed and seven Injured. 1 Estate Defendant Defendants In the two suits were Maurice Newman, executor of the estate of Harry Friedman, deceased textiles manufacturer’, and Ralph B, Ellis, construction company head. Friedman and Mrs. Friedman were among the dead from the crash. He was driver of the car in which Miss Morley and her mother were passengers, the suit stated. ..’ , Miss Morley asked $159,000 and her mother, a dress shop owner, $114,000, charging that Friedman s; car, going at, an excessive rate, of speed, as they returned from Las Vegas, failed to take a sharp curve because of construction work with inadequate barriers. The car in which they were riding veered into an east bound lane and struck two cars, they said. Injuries Listed Miss Morley charged that she had suffered a broken pelvis, broken leg, and had lost her voice for seven months. She also missed a New York engagement to play a role in “Fasten Your Seat Belts,” a musical, she averred. Her mother had a crushed chest, punctured left lung and broken ribs, her suit stated. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

When she was rushed to the hospital after the accident,the doctors in the emergency room doubted that she would live through the day. “And, one doctor added, “if she does, she’ll never walk or talk again.” As it is obvious from the article, Fay had a prolonged convalescence period and was unable to work during that time, as she spent eight months in the hospital, and the year after learning how to walk and talk all over again.

It was a very difficult time for Fay, but she never lost her zest for life and was unwavering in her faith. She also had external help, as she was surrounded by friends and family who lavished her with loving attention and devotion – Charlie Chaplin’s son used to come and cheer her up.

Her vocal chords, which had been paralyzed, finally healed, and almost two years after the accident, she was ready to continue her interrupted career.  Thankfully, she bounced back emotionally and mentally stronger, and she truly needed the support – her dreams career for an opera career were dashed, and Fay need to make peace with it and had to turn to other venues. She began a career in cabaret and musical theater, landing the part as Carol Channing’s understudy in “Hello Dolly.”

Being an understudy was ultimately too underwhelming for her as Carol was a workhorse that almost never missed a performance, so Fay  left the touring production in San Francisco, hopign to find new revenues at the West Coast. However, a Hello Dolly producer, enraged by her actions, decided to blacklisted her from working on Broadway.

After California she returned to New York, and, unable to find meaningful work in New York, Fay left for England, paying her way by performing on the cruise ship that took her there. There she hosted the BBC’s “Night Ride” for three years and recorded for CBS records. She returned to New York after some time, and since the bad blood ceded a bit, she made a comeback in night club work, one woman shows in the cabaret tradition, and was a hit performer in Las Vegas. She recorded a large number of songs and was considered a reliable, talented, well liked all around performer who could easily get a gig anywhere. During this time she changed her name to Lisa Carroll.

But life had some surprised in store for Fay. In 1993 was involved in another car accident, and like last time, instead of taking it in her stride and lamenting , it transformed her life. Fay was hospitalized and spent more time listening to music, reading and contemplating. And she acquired an unusual new skill – rapping! She would rap for her nurses and they loved it! Fay slowly honed her rapping capabilities, and this opened up a whole new world for her – she was able to record “Rapping with Dr. Wruth” and “Rappin Roofus.” “Rappin Roofus” was a children’s album and became a success. Thus this car accident was also a blessing in disguise for Fay.

Her rapping career pushed Fay into yet another field of expertise – toy manufacturing! She introduced her line of toys including the Hip Hop Hamilton bear, dedicated to the Broadway rap hit Hamilton. She also created a mega successful children’s Christmas album called  “Rappin’ Up Christmas: Homeys 4 the Holidays”.

Now for her romantic life. The vibe I get from Fay was that her singing and creative work was always more important to her than dating, and as far as I can tell, she never married, but had a string of handsome beaus. She was only gal Jeff Hunter has taken out since his divorce from Barbara Rush, but they were old pals and it was more friendly than flirty.

She also dated Billy Loes, Maestro Art Mooneye, composer Mack Gordon and Martin Epstein. It seems she had a special relationship with songwriter Burt Bacharach, as attested by this funny quote:

“It was my first release. They presented the song to me and, for the b-side, anything written by Burt Bacharach would have to be a success, especially since his parents were my dearest friends. I think it sold well. That was a funny situation as [Burt’s parents] were always trying to fix me up with their son between his many marriages, but it never worked out. They wanted me for a daughter-in-law. Every time he got divorced, they would ring me and say, “Now’s the time!” But by then, I’d be off singing somewhere.”

There is tons and tons of information about Fay’s musical career in the papers and some on the net, but I won’t focus on it here, needless to say she seems like an incredible and very vibrant woman!

Fay is still alive today, and, as always, I hope she is living a great life!

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