Fay Tincher Poster

Biography

Often compared in looks and ability to Mabel Normand, lively, dark-haired comedienne Fay Tincher began as a vaudeville and musical comedy actress. Though she had operatic aspirations at the outset, Fay settled on an acting career. She first appeared on the Chicago stage while still finishing her studies. In 1913, she moved to the West Coast where she was discovered for film by D.W. Griffith. After a few short films she was cast as a vamp in The Battle of the Sexes (1914). However, it was soon realised that comedy, not drama, was her forte. No romantic or vixenish leads for this gal. Fay just wanted to make people laugh. She made sure that her appearance gave her a head start. Already rather short (at 5 feet 2 inches), she adopted as her trademark a purposefully unglamorous look: wearing essentially no makeup, she styled her hair with a distinctive big curl plastered to her forehead and dressed either in masculine clothes or in a black and white striped outfit which would not have looked out of place in a barber's shop.

At Reliance-Mutual, Fay was featured in the 'Komic Comedies' (1914-15), and successfully created her own regular character, a feisty stenographer named 'Ethel'. Publicity at the time touted her as 'the female Chaplin'. She gained further public notice by winning a bathing suit contest at Venice, California which led to further job offers. Between 1916 and 1919, Fay starred in two-reelers for Arts-Triangle, Keystone and Al Christie. She even briefly, and unsuccessfully, fronted her own production company. In 1923, she settled at Universal, adopting the character 'Min Gump' in the long-running 'Andy Gump' series, based on the comic strip. The coming of sound, coinciding with the end of the series in 1928, prompted Fay's sudden and permanent departure from the screen.