Birthday: June 16, 1924
Died At Age: 74
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Faith Marie Domergue
Born Country: United States
Born in: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Famous as: Actress
Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Females
Spouse/Ex-: Paolo Cossa (m. 1966), Hugo Fregonese (m. 1947 - div. 1958), Teddy Stauffer (m. 1946 - div. 1947)
father: Leo Domergue
mother: Adabelle Wemet
children: Diana Maria Fregonese, John Anthony Fregonese
Died on: April 4, 1999
place of death: Santa Barbara, California, United States
Cause of Death: Cancer
U.S. State: Louisiana
City: New Orleans, Louisiana
education: University High School Charter
Who was Faith Domergue?
Faith Domergue was an American film and television actress who is best known for her appearances on several science fiction, monster, and horror films that had branded her as one of the early scream queens. Discovered early on, she had signed movie contracts with Warner Brothers, and with RKO Pictures, then run by business magnet, pilot and engineer, Howard Hughes, when she was still a teenager. However, her debut as a leading actress in the thriller 'Vendetta' turned out to be one of Hollywood's biggest disasters. Nevertheless, she later established herself as a cult favorite for her roles in American films like 'Cult of the Cobra', 'This Island Earth', and 'It Came from Beneath the Sea', and European movies such as 'The Atomic Man', 'Soho Incident', 'Man in the Shadow', and 'The Sky Burns'. Later in her career, she acted in Italian giallo films like 'One on Top of the Other' and 'The Man with Icy Eyes', and the American horror film 'The House of Seven Corpses'. She also acted on television throughout the 1950s and 1960s, but regretted not working in theatre.
Childhood & Early Life
Faith Marie Domergue was born on June 16, 1924, to Irish-English descent parents with part-Creole ancestry. She was never told that she was adopted at six weeks by Adabelle Wemet, who married Leo Domergue when she was 18 months old.
After the family moved to California in 1928, she attended Beverly Hills Catholic School and St. Monica's Convent School, and while studying, acted on stage at the Bliss Hayden Theatre. She was discovered by a Warner Brothers talent scout when she was a sophomore at University High School and signed a contract with the studio in April 1941.
In 1941, she made her first on-screen appearance in an uncredited walk-on role in the noir-style musical 'Blues in the Night'. Also that year, she was featured on the cover of the 'Photoplay' magazine as 'Faith Dorn', which according to her was "because Jack Warner was too stupid to pronounce Domergue".
Soon after her graduation in 1942, she met with a serious accident that left her with a disfiguring injury due to which she had to undergo an 18-month-long intensive treatment, including plastic surgery. While still recovering, she attended a yacht party thrown by Howard Hughes who, infatuated with her beauty, bought out her contract with Warner Brothers and signed her for a three-picture deal with his RKO Pictures.
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Faith Domergue spent about three years taking voice, diction and drama lessons until she was deemed fit for the camera. In 1946, she was given a small one-scene role in 'Young Widow', starring Jane Russell, so that she gains experience in facing the camera, and had third billing in the film.
Hughes cast her in the lead role in the thriller 'Vendetta' in 1946, but his near-fatal plane crash that year, apart from repeated reshoots and several changes of director, delayed the film's release until 1950. While the film was panned by 'The New York Times' as "a garrulous, slow and obvious period piece", Domergue received mild praise for being able to "occasionally contribute genuine emotional acting".
She had moved to Buenos Aires with her Argentine husband Hugo Fregonese during the production of the film, but later fled back to the US due to political unrest, and resumed her career. Hughes, furious that the glamour girl he spent money promoting was expecting her second child and could not attend the film's premiere, tried to hide her away until columnist Louella Parsons revealed the story.
Due to her contract with RKO, she starred in the film noir thriller 'Where Danger Lives', playing a homicidal maniac opposite Robert Mitchum and Claude Rains. However, her performance as a femme fatale was dismissed by 'The New York Times' as "nothing more than a comparatively sultry appearance and an ability to recite simple lines".
Domergue, who was frustrated as to how her career had been handled, separated from Hughes after the films released and was jobless for a couple of years until she was loaned out to Universal Pictures. She appeared in the 1952 film 'The Duel at Silver Creek' opposite Audie Murphy before acting in her final film with RKO Pictures, 'This Is My Love', which released in 1954.
She accompanied her husband to England for the filming of his movie 'Decameron Nights', but returned to the US after signing a two-year contract with Universal Pictures in 1953. She subsequently began acting regularly, both on the big-screen, in a series of science fiction, monster, and horror films, and on television.
In 1955, she starred in the Western film 'Santa Fe Passage', the horror film 'Cult of the Cobra', and the sci-fi films 'This Island Earth', 'It Came from Beneath the Sea', and 'Timeslip'. She was particularly fond of 'This Island Earth', Universal's first color science fiction film that employed inventive special effects and was well-received by critics.
During the late 1950s, she acted in several European films including 'The Atomic Man', 'Soho Incident', 'Man in the Shadow', and 'The Sky Burns', as well as the American Western film 'Escort West'. Her early television appearances were in series such as 'Lux Video Theatre', 'Fireside Theatre', 'Schlitz Playhouse of Stars', 'The Count of Monte Cristo', 'Sugarfoot', 'State Trooper' and 'Hawaiian Eye'.
Throughout the 1960s, she continued to make guest appearances on American television shows like 'Perry Mason', 'Bonanza', 'Have Gun – Will Travel' and 'Combat!'. However, she had only a handful of American film credits: 'California', 'Track of Thunder', 'The Gamblers', and the 'Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet' – the dubbed version of the Soviet sci-fi film 'Planeta Bur'.
Her later roles were mostly in B-grade European horror films which included Italian giallo films like Lucio Fulci's 'One on Top of the Other' and Alberto De Martino's 'The Man with Icy Eyes'. Her final acting role was in the American independent horror film 'The House of Seven Corpses' alongside John Ireland and John Carradine.
Family & Personal Life
Faith Domergue began an on-and-off relationship with Howard Hughes in 1942, but broke up with him in 1943 after she realized that he was also seeing Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner. She was still a teenager when she married Acapulco night club owner and bandleader Teddy Stauffer on January 28, 1946, but the marriage was dissolved on October 8, 1947.
A few hours after divorce, she married Argentine film director and scriptwriter Hugo Fregonese. They shared two children, daughter Diana Maria, born in January 1949, and son John Anthony, born in August 1951, who served as the co-principal of urban planning firm Fregonese-Calthorpe Associates in Portland, Oregon. Faith and Hugo got divorced in 1958.
She married Italian assistant director and theatrical producer Paolo Cossa on July 11, 1966, in Monterey, California, and subsequently settled in Europe in 1968. They were together until his death in 1992.
Faith Domergie died of an unspecified cancer on April 4, 1999, in Santa Barbara, California.
Faith Domergue revealed details about her relationship with Howard Hughes in the 1972 book 'My Life with Howard Hughes'. In the 2004 biopic of Hughes, 'The Aviator', her character was portrayed by Kelli Garner.