World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

D–E Entries
  Johnny Depp
  Meyer Dolinsky
  Faith Domergue
  James Doohan
  David Duchovny
  David Duncan
  Harlan Ellison
  Roland Emmerich
  Maurice Evans
(1924–1999). American actress.

Acted in: It Came from Beneath the Sea (Robert Gordon 1954); Cult of the Cobra (Francis D. Lyon 1955); This Island Earth (Joseph NEWMAN and Jack ARNOLD, uncredited 1955); The Atomic Man (Ken Hughes 1956); Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (Curtis HARRINGTON 1965); The Man with Icy Eyes (Alberto de Martino 1971); Psycho Sisters (Reginald LE BORG 1972); The House of the Seven Corpses (Paul Harrison 1974); Legacy of Blood (Carl Monson 1978).
Yes, it would be nice to present a biographical film encyclopedia that was nicely balanced in its attention to men and women; however, when you are dealing with science fiction film, it turns out to be practically impossible. For, if you are looking for women working behind the camera as writers, directors, and producers, these are few and far between before the 1990s, and they remain a distinct minority today. As for women working in front of the camera, their careers all too often follow the same dreary pattern: for a few years, an attractive young actress finds that she is the belle of the ball, offered starring role after starring role; then, another young actress comes along to take her place, and nobody in Hollywood will return her calls. It takes an actress of rare smarts and determination, like Beverly GARLAND, to cling to the spotlight long enough to make a difference.

Here, then, is the short, sad story of Faith Domergue. She was already at the advanced age of thirty when she started appearing in science fiction films, but this was briefly advantageous, as her visible maturity and trim haircut made her marginally credible in the role of Beautiful Woman Scientist, an occasional replacement for the more common Old Scientist's Beautiful Daughter as an object of affection for the Handsome Male Scientist. She was merely competent as such in It Came from Beneath the Sea, but she was truly the heart and soul of the bizarre and fascinating This Island Earth; portraying the world's second-greatest atomic scientist, Domergue was the only member of the cast who seemed to care about what was going on, the only one who responded to events like a human being instead of a high school freshman reciting his lines in the school play. It can be termed a great performance only in the context of its competitors, but the film did suggest that, with a few more films under her belt, Domergue might develop into a real asset to science fiction films, since she was visibly able to maintain her dignity and project a sense of class even amidst ridiculous monsters and senseless plots.

However, she never had that opportunity, since her period of science fiction stardom involved only two other films: she did her best as the sinister, seductive leader of the silly Cult of the Cobra, traveled to England for an inconsequential contribution to The Atomic Man, then seemingly vanished from the scene. Suddenly considered, it seems, too old to appear in science fiction films, Domergue moved to television for a ten-year run of guest appearances, mostly in westerns, where she could still garner romantic roles. In the 1960s, when director Curtis HARRINGTON sought a mature companion for Basil RATHBONE in the new footage he was adding to Planeta Burg to construct the Frankensteinian Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, Domergue answered the call to made her big science fiction comeback, gaping in awe at the unseen wonders to be spliced in during the editing process. Understandably, she and her film failed to make much of an impression.

The story of her film career ends where the stories of beautiful young actresses often end-in horror movies, about the only genre where Women of a Certain Age can always find a home. But when you find yourself starring alongside John CARRADINE in a film called The House of the Seven Corpses, you don't need to be told that your career has hit rock bottom. A final abomination, Legacy of Blood, reunited Domergue not only with Carradine but also with her co-star from This Island Earth, Jeff MORROW, but people who enjoyed her performance there will find themselves unable to sit through this one.

However, even if audiences and the film industry drive an aging actress into such humiliating circumstances, life can sometimes provide her with other consolations; sometimes, a man who watched and admired her in her prime will later come along to provide her with support and companionship in her declining years. In Domergue's case (as I can now explain, enlightened by a correspondent), the rescuing knight in shining armor was Paolo Cossa, a former assistant director who had become a wealthy jeweler and could provide his new bride with a nice home in Switzerland and many opportunities to travel in Europe. As so, after he died in 1996 and Domergue returned to America to live in Santa Barbara, California for her final years, she at least had something more pleasant to remember than the way that she, like so many actresses in science fiction film, had been so unkindly treated in Hollywood.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2018 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art