This week’s writing prompt is Characters. Although we are always free to be creative and interpret the prompt however we wish, some suggestions were: every family has a person who might be described as a “character,” or someone named for a famous character, or working through a language that uses characters other than what you’re used to, or deciphering a character on a tombstone? But as always, we can be creative and have fun with the writing prompt. I did notice another participant took it to be someone who played a character and wrote about her 3rd cousin actress Donna Reed. This got me thinking that maybe I should write about my 3rd cousin (1x removed) actress Myrna Fahey. I should note here that Myrna Fahey is also my 11th cousin! But more about that later.
She is not as well-known or remembered as more recent actors with Fahey/Fahy roots in Galway. Jeff Fahey’s great-grandfather was Thomas Fahey who was born in and married, Ellen M. Carney/Kearney, in Glenamaddy, Galway, Ireland. Glenamaddy is near the village of Boyounagh.
Actress Jennifer Lawrence also has Fahey ancestors from Galway. Her 3rd great grandmother was Ellen Hobbens Broderick who was born in Gurtymadden, Galway, Ireland and immigrated to Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Michael Hobbens and Catherine Fahey.
I have Fahey connections to both Mountbellew and the Peterswell/Gort areas further south. Gurtymadden is 18 miles from Peterswell, while Glenamaddy is 12 miles from and closer to Mountbellew. I have not found a DNA or records connection between Jeff Fahey’s ancestors and mine, as of yet. But I have found a DNA connection to Jennifer Lawrence via her Fahey kin. I am still working out the connection between her Fahey ancestors and mine.
Back to Myrna Fahey. I love, love, love, Vincent Price, so I knew who Myrna Fahey was right away, from seeing her in the 1960 film House of Usher in which she co-stared with Vincent Price and Mark Damon. And yes, I do have a more distant family connection to Vincent Price, which thrills me to pieces! We share Spencer ancestors in Colonial America. This connection to him is on my maternal side.
I knew that my paternal great-great grandfather Daniel Wolfetone “Dan” Fahey (Fay) had a brother, Patrick Fahey, that came to the USA a few years prior to the family and settled in Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine before 1848. By 1855 Patrick had migrated to Vermillion, Dakota County, Minnesota. I also knew he had a brother named Edward, and I discovered that Edward Fahey, who was one of the siblings that originally stayed in Ireland, did come to the USA in 1860 and, as his older brother Patrick had done earlier, he settled in Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine. Edward did not migrate elsewhere, he stayed in Maine.
Edward Fahey’s occupation as listed in the Bangor city directories was a stonecutter. He married Mary Burke in 1864. Her parentage is unknown, but she was born in Ireland and immigrated to the USA in 1861. They had the following children:
- John F. Fahey born February 1866 in Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine, and died 1944 in Penobscot County, Maine. He married Nellie I. Murphy. They had only one child Francis Edward “Mickey” Fahey, who was the father of Myrna Fahey.
- Edward P. Fahey born February 1868 in Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine, and died before the 1950 census in Maine. He never married. He is listed as a Riverman in Bangor city directories and as a laborer. As an older man, I find him living in The Salvation Army House/Hotel in Bangor in the 1930 and 1940 Censuses.
- Mary Ellen Fahey born April 1870 in Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine, and died 27 June 1900 in Bangor. She never married.
- Anna “Annie” Fahey born 26 August 1872 in Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine, and died 6 August 1976. She never married. She began working before she was aged 19 years old as a Compositor and continued this trade for several decades until she made a claim for Social Security on 11 March 1944 at the age of 74. A compositor was a typesetter, the person who inserted each letter of a word into the frames for printing. They had to be able to think back-to-front to put all the letters and punctuation in the right place – and they had to do it at some speed! It was very much a skilled job. Interestingly, women were often employed in this occupation, it was said due to their deftness of touch and quickness of motion, making them particularly skilled at this job. She lived to the ripe old age of 103!
As noted above, only one of the children, John F. Fahey has descendants today. He was the only one to marry of his siblings. He married Nellie I. Murphy on 27 August 1904 in Bangor, Maine. Nellie was born in Rhode Island to Lawrence Murphy (born in Ireland) and Martha Slavin (born in Canada).
John F. Fahey and Nellie I. Murphy had one child, a son:
- Francis Edward “Mickey” Fahey born 11 April 1906 in Carmel, Penobscot County, Maine, and died 23 January 1985 in Columbia Falls, Washington County, Maine. He was the father of Myrna Fahey.
Francis Edward “Mickey” Fahey married Olevia Newcomb on 1 January 1927 in Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine. She was the daughter of Clyde Allen Newcomb and Laura J. Ingraham. Her Newcomb ancestors were in Maine for some generations, then her ancestors go back to Colonial Massachusetts. Although I do not share Newcomb ancestors with her mother, my ancestors did live in the same places in Colonial Massachusetts , and I am related via marriage to her Newcomb ancestors.
But I do share Hopkins ancestors with Olevia Newcomb! We are both descended from Mayflower Pilgrim Stephen Hopkins and his first wife Mary. Making me a 10th cousin 1x removed to Myrna Fahey’s mother Olevia Newcomb. Which is how I am both Myrna Fahey’s 3rd cousin 1x removed and also her 11th cousin!
Francis Edward “Mickey” Fahey married Olevia Newcomb had three children:
- Michael Newcomb Fahey born 30 May 1927 in Carmel, Penobscot County, Maine, and died 29 October 2001 in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida. He served in the US Navy during WWII.
- Charles Francis Fahey born 8 June 1930 in Carmel, Penobscot County, Maine, and died 29 June 2010 in Bar Harbor, Hancock County, Maine. He married/1 to (Living) Usiak and m/2 to (Living) Trask Davisson.
- Myrna Elizabeth Fahey born 12 March 1933 in Carmel, Penobscot County, Maine, and died 6 MAY 1973 in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California. She never married.
Myrna Fahey is probably known best for her role as Maria Crespo in Walt Disney’s Zorro and as Madeline Usher in The Fall of the House of Usher.
She was a former cheerleader and beauty pageant queen. She was an avid skier and stock investor and was known for insisting that her dressing rooms be equipped with a stock ticker.
She appeared in episodes of 37 television series from the 1950s into the early 1970s, including Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Time Tunnel with Robert Colbert, Maverick with James Garner, 77 Sunset Strip with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Laramie, Gunsmoke with James Arness, The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Daniel Boone with Fess Parker, Perry Mason with Raymond Burr, and Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward. (1)
In 1961, Myrna took a starring role in the TV series Father of the Bride, based on the acclaimed film of the same name. She was cast based solely on her striking resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor, a comparison that Myrna did not appreciate, revealing to one interviewer “the fact that I’m supposed to look like Elizabeth What’s-Her-Name had nothing to do with my getting [the part], because we don’t really look alike, I don’t think.” Myrna fought to be released from her contract with the show, citing that too much emphasis was put on the “father” character and not enough on her “bride” character. the series lasted one season.
It was reported in December 1955 that she was at the Coconut Grove night club with Frank Sinatra associate Nick Sevano. (3) Myrna briefly dated Yankees baseball star Joe DiMaggio. In 1963, both Joe and Myrna received a series of anonymous death threats. Several messages threatened her with facial disfigurement with acid and Joe with the killing of his son, Joe Jr. As per the FBI interviews, the two only dined together once during a work visit to Rome in June 1962 – but columnists had recycled this alleged romance throughout the end of 1962 and 1963, to dramatic results. The FBI eventually traced those letters to an obsessive Marilyn Monroe fan and patient in a psychiatric institution in San Jose, California. In addition to briefly dating baseball player Joe DiMaggio, she also dated actor George Hamilton. (1 & 2)
In the early 1970’s, Myrna’s workload slowed, as she was diagnosed with cancer. She appeared in one episode of the medical drama Marcus Welby, MD and played a beauty pageant chaperone in the TV movie The Great American Beauty Contest. The producers devised her bit part solely to help her maintain her industry health benefits during her final illness. It would prove to be her final role. Myrna lost her long battle with cancer, at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, on 6 May 1973 at the age of 40. She was buried at Mount Pleasant Catholic Cemetery in Bangor, Maine. (1)
- Myrna Fahey. wikipedia.org.
- Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio: A Retrospective – Part I. Blog on tumblr.com.
- Carroll, Harrison, syndicated columnist (December 21, 1955). “Behind the Scenes in Hollwood”. Greenburg Daily News. Greenburg, Indiana. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.
If you’d like to learn more about the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project, please visit here:
Or join the Facebook group Generations Cafe.
If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source, please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2022. All rights reserved. Thank you.