Fay Tincher

(Frank) And we’re back again. You know we’ve talked about a lot of people in show business in one form or another, either Broadway star or TV soap star or something like that. And there are a lot of them from Kansas. There really are. And a lot of ’em from Topeka. And I recently discovered another one named Fay Tincher. Now, and I don’t know…you know there are Coca-Cola trays and a lot of them are now re-pops. Thing is is Fay is on one of those. (Deb) Isn’t that something? (Frank) And I have seen one of ’em over in NOTO at Finder’s Keepers. He has a lot of Coca-Cola memorabilia. I’ve got to go back over there now and see if he still has that one. But Fay Tincher was a model and she was an actress in silent movies, and anyway, a very interesting story about Fay. (Deb) Beautiful gal. (Frank) Yea, lived a very, very long life and so anyway, gonna share that with you. The lively, dark-haired comedienne was often called, the “female Charlie Chaplin.” Appearing in more than 160 films between 1913 and 1930, the Silent Era, Fay Tincher was not the typical actress or beauty queen, though she was both. In fact, she wasn’t typical at all. A film historian noted that most of her films from this period are lost, we know little of those years when Tincher was at her most powerful as a film producer as well as a comedy star. In front of the camera Fay Tincher had three distinct personae: Ethel, the stenographer, the role that made her a star; a cowgirl; and the housewife, Min Gump. Before taking on the role of Min, her characters were consistently strong, independent women, anticipating something of the uniqueness, confidence, and even dominance of men, with the chutzpah later embodied by Mae West. Like West, Tincher was short, only five feet two, but both commanded the screen despite their size. Unlike West, however, Tincher never pretended to be a sex symbol; she rarely put herself in a romantic situation and rejected conventional beauty. The Milwaukee Journal in 1914 observed that Tincher “persists and revels in making herself look awkward, no makeup…nor does she care how it makes her look provided it accomplishes her purpose—to make people laugh and be happy.” Fay was born to a wealthy Topeka family in 1884. She began appearing in amateur theatre at an early age. From the beginning, she was remarkably savvy about publicity and gained a good deal of notoriety in 1908 when she seemed to be unsure about whether or not she had, on a dare, married a wealthy Connecticut bachelor named Ned Buckley. Stories about this escapade ran in a number of papers, including The World, where in 1908 Tincher is quoted as saying, “Not that Ned would not make a desirable husband for any girl who wished to marry. But I do not want to marry him nor any man”. As far as is known, however, this marriage was a publicity hoax. Tincher never did marry and did not have children. Fay Tincher seems to have struck out on her own when she formed Fay Tincher Productions in 1917, but exactly how many comedies she made is uncertain, and none of these seem to have survived. She seemingly disappeared after her final film appearance in 1930, as talking films changed the industry. Her image is immortalized on a Coca Cola tray. Many of the headlines mentioning Fay during the height of her career were in the social columns: a sister, Elizabeth, committed suicide following the accidental shooting death of her husband; another was married to a Topeka mayor. She died of a heart attack at the age of 99 and is buried on Staten Island in an unmarked grave.

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