Fay Bainter had two supremely successful careers: on the stage as a leading lady and on the screen as a supporting actress. Born in Los Angeles, she honed her art in the provincial theaters of western America before making a name on Broadway as an ingenue. She was tutored in the fine art of comedic timing by the great comedienne, Mrs. Fiske. 1916's "Arms and the Girl" brought her stardom. For a decade she appeared in a series of theatrical hits, expanding her range by appearing in a musical, "The Kiss Burgler," and a magical being in the dramatized Japanese legend, "The Willow Tree."
In the late 1920s she solidified her reputation as an actress of the legitimate stage by appearing in a series of classic English dramas: "She Stoops to Conquer," "Beaux Strategem," and "The Way of the World." By the 1930s she was seeking new challenges and performed in a musical version of "Uncle Tom's Cabin." After enjoying success in "Dodsworth," Bainter left New York for Hollywood and commenced a distinguished career that saw her win the Academy Award for best supporting actress in 1936 when she was also nominated for best actress. David S. Shields/ALS