- 24 September 1892
- Richmond, Virginia, USA
Julia Faye's career is inextricably linked to director Cecil B. DeMille. He was her mentor, while she was for many years his mistress (a liaison which was tolerated by De Mille's long-suffering wife Constance Adams). Julia was born in Richmond, Virginia, of French-American parentage. She had a Southern drawl which she never lost. When she was six months old her family moved to St. Louis, MO, where she spent most of her early childhood. She was educated at Illinois State University. Her parents intended for her to have a teaching career, but Julia had other ideas. She started out as a model for fashion magazines, touted as "the girl with the perfect legs" and "the prettiest feet and ankles in America". Her photo shoots did not escape the attention of De Mille, who summoned her for an audition (though, according to author Charles Higham, it was actor Wallace Reid who first introduced Julia to De Mille at a party). Her "pegs" certainly passed muster and Julia was fast-tracked to the silver screen, initially appearing in a few small roles at Fine Arts=Paramount. Casting directors were also eager to utilize her as a "leg model", doubling for actresses deemed less endowed in that department. In 1916 Julia moved to Keystone as one of Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties and knockabout comediennes, occasionally as leading lady and at times performing her own stunts. Despite limitations to her acting ability, Julia was possessed of sophistication, wit and charm. which contributed to her having a pretty good career for the better part of the 1920s. She was featured in billed supporting roles in a number of De Mille's big-budget extravaganzas, including The Ten Commandments (1923) (as Pharaoh's wife), The Volga Boatman (1926) (as a gypsy) and The King of Kings (1927) (as Martha). Dynamite (1929), co-scripted by another De Mille protégé and mistress (not to mention fierce rival), Jeanie Macpherson, gave Julia her best opportunity to shine in a meatier role. However, by the early 1930s her career was already in decline. Perhaps hoping to emulate Macpherson, she proceeded to study screenwriting for three years under De Mille's tutelage, but, in the end, to little avail. Eventually, offers from Hollywood dried up and her money ran out. To his credit, De Mille continued to support Julia by putting her on the payroll as one of his regular stock players. She went on to appear in cameos and bit parts in his films for another two decades, usually without dialogue. Her last film role was as a dowager in The Buccaneer (1958). Julia Faye died in April 1966 at the age of 72. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.