Thursday, May 27, 2021

William Fay, writer and family man

 by Jack Seabrook

In my introduction to the series of posts on William Fay, I wrote:

William Cullen Fay (1918-1981) wrote 14 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He was an editor at Popular Publications starting in 1935 and he wrote over 160 short stories that were published from 1938 to 1962. His stories appeared mostly in mainstream popular fiction magazines such as Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, and Liberty. Fay also worked as a sports writer for the Chicago Tribune and, as of 1948, he was the sports editor for Collier's. He wrote for television from 1954 to 1967 and he wrote the screenplay for Kid Galahad, a 1962 film starring Elvis Presley.

However, I have since learned that there were two writers named William Fay, both of whom were writing at about the same time. I corresponded with William Fay, an attorney in Chicago, whose grandfather was William Cullen Fay. This William Fay was not the person who wrote short stories for popular magazines and later wrote teleplays for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and other TV shows. William Cullen Fay was a sports writer and editor, who was the sports editor at Collier's magazine before moving to Chicago to become the sports editor for the Chicago Tribune. He seems to have signed magazine articles as William Cullen Fay in the early 1940s and by the late 1940s he had switched to signing them as Bill Fay, which continued thereafter.

The other William Fay worked for Popular Publications, wrote numerous short stories, and wrote teleplays. He moved to Los Angeles in 1957 to write for television. Part of the confusion between the two William Fays stems from the fact that William Cullen Fay was a sports editor and writer, while William Fay's short stories and teleplays often dealt with sports, especially boxing. IMDb lists his dates of birth and death as 1918 to 1981, but these may be the dates for the sports editor, William Cullen Fay, since a birth year of 1918 would mean that William Fay (the TV writer) became an editor at Popular Publications at the age of seventeen.

If anyone knows more about the William Fay who wrote short stories and teleplays, please contact me. He had eight children, as pictured in the photo below.

The University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center holds an archive of the William Fay papers, which are indexed here. Most of the collection consists of short stories or teleplays by Fay, but there are also some photographs, a short article, letters to and from the author, and a handwritten list of short stories that covers the period from 1938 to 1960.

Here is an article about short-story and teleplay writer William Fay (referred to as Bill Fay) and his family, from The Saturday Evening Post, August 27, 1955:

Here is a photo of Fay with his family:

Good Housekeeping, December 1955

Two miscellaneous photos:

Europe, 1950-Researching for article on
"Shrines of Europe"-Fatima, Portugal

Radio interview, Sardi's, New York
(Rocky Graziano is on the right)

This is a letter Fay wrote that references boxing:

Here is his handwritten list of his work from 1938 to 1960:

These documents were provided courtesy of The University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center and I am grateful for their help in preparing this post. If any of the images above are under copyright, the rights belong to the copyright holders.


Peter Enfantino said...

Amazing detective work, Jack. It's so tough these days gleaning any info on long-dead writers. Except for relatives and the rare magazine bio, it's mostly guess work, isn't it?

Jack Seabrook said...

Yes, it's a matter of cobbling together bits and pieces from any source we can find and hoping a relative pops up with more information.