Fay Spain

Fay Spain (October 6, 1932 May 8, 1983) was an American actress in motion pictures and television.

Fay Spain
Spain in 1960
Born(1932-10-06)October 6, 1932
Phoenix, Arizona, United States[1]
DiedMay 8, 1983(1983-05-08) (aged 50)
OccupationFilm/TV actress
Years active19551977
Spouse(s)John Falvo (19491954) (divorced) (1 child)
John Altoon (19591962)
Imo Ughini (19651966)
Philip Fulmer Westbrook (19681983) (her death)

Early years

When she was 17 years old, Spain worked as a dealer in a casino in Reno, Nevada. Years later, she said, "I lied about my age and got a job as a dealer and made big money, much more than my husband, who was a shill."[2]

Theater apprentice

She began living alone in her English teacher's attic at the age of 14. The teacher had a daughter who was affiliated with an acting stock company in Maryland. She gave Spain a job which combined the duties of acting apprentice and babysitting. At sixteen, Miss Spain was in New York City, residing in an $8-a-week room on the Upper West Side. She worked in a tie shop where she became acquainted with an associate of Walter Winchell. The gossip writer mentioned her name in a column and Spain received a call from Columbia Pictures. She was not extended a contract because she "wasn't pretty enough for Hollywood".

Within two months she found work with a stock company in the Catskill Mountains. She obtained an Equity Card which enabled her to continue working as an actress. Spain eschewed a college scholarship after attending high school in White Salmon, Washington. She chose instead to pursue a stock company apprenticeship.

Film actress

As a film aspirant her first screen test was made with James Garner. The test was unfavorable and she was not considered photogenic. She continued to pursue acting, unimpeded by rejection. She accepted any parts which came along, learning the techniques of the acting trade.

In 1955, Spain was one of 15 actresses who were named WAMPAS Baby Stars.[3] She first came to prominence with movie audiences in the late 1950s. In 1957, she appeared as Carol Smith with John Smith as Tommy Kelly in the dramatic film The Crooked Circle in which a young boxer is pressured to throw a fight. In 1958, she was cast as "Darlin Jill" in the film version of God's Little Acre, based on Erskine Caldwell's novel. The film marked the screen debut of Tina Louise and also starred Robert Ryan, Jack Lord, Buddy Hackett, Aldo Ray, and Vic Morrow.

Spain followed this success by playing Maureen Flannery in the film Al Capone (1959), and appeared in such films as The Beat Generation (1959), The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960), Hercules and the Conquest of Atlantis (1961), Black Gold (1962), Thunder Island (1963), Flight to Fury (1964), The Gentle Rain (1966), Welcome to Hard Times (1967) and The Todd Killings (1971).

Her final appearance as a film actress came in 1974, when she portrayed the wife of mobster Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) in The Godfather Part II (1974).


In 1959 the actress married west coast abstract painter John Altoon.[4] They spent their honeymoon in Reno, Nevada. Both led busy lives and enjoyed their time away from work by relaxing in a home they remodeled in the San Fernando Valley of California. Altoon was an art instructor in Los Angeles. He contributed art for a series of record album covers. Spain had a five-year-old son from a previous marriage who lived with her in California.


Spain starred in 11 episodes of NBC Matinee Theater.[5]

She appeared as a contestant in an episode of the Groucho Marx game show You Bet Your Life (episode #56-02, October 4, 1956, Secret Word 'Hand'). By the middle and late 1950s and 1960s, Spain appeared in Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Cheyenne, Rawhide, Whirlybirds, Perry Mason (Charlotte Lynch in "The Case of the Fiery Fingers"), Tombstone Territory (episode "Pick up the Gun"), The Millionaire, M Squad, Adventures in Paradise, The Texan, Riverboat, The Rat Patrol, Gomer Pyle, USMC, Gunsmoke (episode "Mavis McCloud" (1957) and episode "A Man a Day" (1961)), Playhouse 90, 77 Sunset Strip, Have Gun - Will Travel (episode "High Wire," 1957), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (episode "The Last Dark Step" (1959) and "The Cuckoo Clock" (1960)), Maverick (episodes “The Naked Gallows” with Jack Kelly (1957), "the Goose-Drownder” (1959), and "The Cactus Switch" with Roger Moore (1961)), Pony Express, The Restless Gun, The Fugitive, Bat Masterson and as Angela in Steve McQueen's Wanted: Dead or Alive (Season 2, Episode 18 (1959)).

Spain also appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood. In the 1950s and 1960s she continued to be seen frequently on television series such as Rawhide episodes, "Incident of the Valley in Shadow" (1959) and "Incident in the Middle of Nowhere" (1961) and "Incident of the Lost Woman" (1962), as well as Stoney Burke, Hogan's Heroes and The Fugitive.

In 1966, she was cast as Calamity Jane in the episode "A Calamity Called Jane" of the syndicated series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Robert Taylor. Rhodes Reason played Wild Bill Hickok in this episode.[6]


Fay Spain died of lymphatic cancer in Los Angeles in 1983 at age 50.


Year Title Role Notes
1957Dragstrip GirlLouise Blake
1957The AbductorsSue Ellen
1957Teenage DollHelen(segment "Hel")
1957The Crooked CircleCarol Smith
1958God's Little AcreDarlin' Jill
1959Al CaponeMaureen Flannery
1959The Beat GenerationFrancee Culloran
1960The Private Lives of Adam and EveLil Lewis / Lilith
1961Hercules and the Conquest of AtlantisQueen Antinea of Atlantis
1962Black GoldJulie
1963Thunder IslandHelen Dodge
1963The Great Space Adventure
1964Flight to FuryDestiny Cooper
1965Choque de Sentimentos
1966The Gentle RainNancy Masters
1967Welcome to Hard TimesJessie
1970The Naked ZooPauline
1974The Todd KillingsMrs. Mack
1974The Godfather Part IIMrs. Marcia Roth


  1. "Fay Spain". Glamour Girls. Archived from the original on June 30, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  2. "Fay Spain Really Veteran Gambler". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Texas, Lubbock. Associated Press. November 16, 1958. p. 64. Retrieved June 4, 2017 via Newspapers.com.
  3. "15 Wampas Baby Stars Appointed". Long Beach Independent. California, Long Beach. Associated Press. October 31, 1955. p. 13. Retrieved June 4, 2017 via Newspapers.com.
  4. "Actress Fay Spain, Painter To Marry". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Texas, Corpus Christi. Associated Press. January 29, 1959. p. 18. Retrieved June 4, 2017 via Newspapers.com.
  5. Johnson, Erskine (March 6, 1959). "Hollywood Today". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Texas, Corpus Christi. p. 40. Retrieved June 4, 2017 via Newspapers.com.
  6. ""A Calamity Called Jane" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. June 2, 2015.


  • The Fremont Argus, "Fay Spain", May 17, 1975, Page 40.
  • Reno Evening Gazette, "Fay Spain Comes Back To Reno", Friday, February 6, 1959, Page 22.
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