Star Archive

Fay Compton (1894 - 1978)

Fay Compton was born Virginia Lilian Emmeline Compton-Mackenzie. Her parents were actors, and one of her brothers would go on to become the well-known writer Compton Mackenzie (Whisky Galore). She was educated in London and Paris. She made her debut in 1911 with a group called the Follies ran by Harry Pelissier whom she married that same year. Pelissier died two years later leaving her with a son, Anthony, who would go on to have a long career as a producer and director (The History of Mr Polly, Meet Mr Lucifer).

During the teens her professional career blossomed with increasingly good roles on stage and her first steps into cinema. This period culminated in her star-making role in Mary Rose at the Haymarket in 1920. The 20s were her decade professionally and included playing Ophelia opposite John Barrymore. It also included a series of starring roles in films. Few of these films were distinguished - this was a dark period in the history of British cinema - but at least she was a star.

When sound came in Compton was in demand, though her beauty was fading and the roles were getting smaller in general. One exception was Autumn Crocus which put her stage hit on screen in which she played a spinster grabbing one last chance at love. Spinsters would be her lot for much of the rest of her film career, though her stage career continued to be varied. For example, in 1940 she was playing Regan opposite John Gielgud's Lear at the Old Vic, and the following year she was the still-alive wife in the original production of Blithe Spirit.

In total she was married four times. Her second husband, actor Lauri De Frece, died in 1922. Marriages three and four, to actors Fred Quartermaine and Ralph Michael, both ended in divorce.  


1914 She Stoops to Conquer
1917 The Labour Leader
1917 One Summer's Day
1920 Judge Not
1921 A Woman of No Importance
1921 The Old Wives' Tale
1922 The House of Peril
1922 Diana of the Crossways
1922 A Bill for Divorcement
1923 This Freedom
1923 The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scotland
1924 Claude Duval
1924 The Eleventh Commandment
1925 The Happy Ending
1925 Settled Out of Court
1926 London Love
1927 Robinson Crusoe
1927 Somehow Good
1928 Zero
1929 Fashions in Love
1930 Cape Forlorn
1931 Uneasy Virtue
1931 Tell England
1934 Autumn Crocus
1934 Waltzes from Vienna
1934 Song at Eventide
1936 Wedding Group
1937 The Mill on the Floss
1939 So This is London
1941 The Prime Minister
1947 Odd Man Out
1947 The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
1948 London Belongs to Me
1949 Esther Waters
1949 Britannia Mews
1951 Blackmailed
1951 Laughter in Paradise
1952 Lady Possessed
1952 Othello (short)
1953 I vinti
1954 Aunt Clara
1956 Doublecross
1957 Town on Trial
1957 The Story of Esther Costello
1963 The Haunting
1963 Uncle Vanya
1968 Journey to Midnight
1969 I Start Counting
1970 The Virgin and the Gypsy

Fay Compton at Amazon UK  

Fay Compton at Amazon US