Joey Faye was an American comedian and actor, probably best known for his long association with burlesque and vaudeville. His most popular films include "Once Upon a Time in America," "That Touch of Mink," "The Tender Trap" and "The Front" with the Grissom Gang which showed the range of his abilities as a dramatic actor and comedian.
Faye was born Joseph Antony Palladino on July 12, 1909 in New York City, the son of a barber. He attended several different high schools, most of the time, playing hooky to go to the vaudeville shows where he memorized the sketches to perform them later in the amateur nights contests at the local theaters, winning most of the prizes. His popularity in comedy led to his long career in vaudeville and burlesque. He has long claimed that he created two of vaudeville's more renowned pieces of business, "Floogle Street" (a.k.a. "Susquehana Hat Company") and "Slowly I Turned," both often performed by Abbott & Costello and the Three Stooges. In addition to an active career in vaudeville and the legitimate theater, later appearing in many movies and TV shows. His first known credits were the shorts "Merrily We Sing," "Hats and Dogs" and "Cactus Caballeros" in the Late Thirties.
Faye managed to make his way up to the Catskills where he got his feet wet in the Borscht Belt, entertaining the vacationers from the city. He met director and playwright Moss Hart there, who gave Joey the name of" Faye." Joey ended up working in the Catskills with many of the greats of the era. He worked often with Ben Bernie, the great bandleader of the Waldorf Astoria, who thought Joey's talents would be better served in burlesque. Bernie made arrangements for Joey to see Billy Minsky, who had discovered and made made of the creat burlesque and vaudeville stars of the time. He hired Faye to become the house comic at the Old Republic Theater on 42nd Street in New York city, where he spent a decade rehearsing writing and working the routines of the women and comics, helping to create the biggest names of the Golden Age of Comedy.
In his career, Faye also performed as "second banana" to well-known comedian Phil Silvers in two Broadway shows, "High Button Shoes" and "Top Banana" and the 1954 film, "Top Banana." He also partnered with Gypsy Rose Lee, Sherry Britton, Georgia Sothern, and Margie Hart. He also ended up partnering with Mandy Kaye, Robert Alda, Johnny Silver and Jack Diamond and several others. He also wrote for and starred on radio with Kate Smith and Bert Lahr of "Wizard Of Oz" fame. Faye also discovered Jackie Gleason, Red Buttons, Joe DeRita, Henny Youngman, and put the columnist, Ed Sullivan on the stage for his debut in a burlesque skit.
In his career, Faye starred in over seventeen shows on Broadway from the 30s to the 90s, including "Room Service," "The Tender Trap," "Guys And Dolls" and "Little Me." His television career includes appearances on "The Phil Silvers Show," "The Thin Man," "77 Sunset Strip," "Perry Mason," "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," "The Detectives," "Make Room for Daddy" "The Red Skelton Hour," "Car 54, Where Are You?," "The Munsters," "The Joey Bishop Show" and "Maude" along with roles in more feature films, such as "That Touch of Mink," "Diary of a Bachelor," "The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock" with Lou Costello, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" and "Once Upon A Time In America."
Working with Jack Albertson of "Willie Wonka" fame for over several decades, Faye and Albertson were chosen to play in Samuel Beckett's renowned work, 'Waiting For Godot," in Los Angeles. Joey won the critics award in 1959, for his portrayal of Estragon. He would later play the same role with Tom Ewell as Didi at the Herald Square theater in New York City.
In a career that spanned sixty-five years in every phase of showbiz, he took his final bow on stage in the Lyceum production of "Three Men on a Horse" with Tony Randall, Jack Klugman and Jerry Stiller. The play had been produced by George Abbott, the same man who gave Faye his first break on Broadway.
His last appearance was in Benny Hill's World Tour: New York, playing a bum in the opening sequence, the owner of a sports car and a mobster who roughs up Benny Hill in the closing sketch. He passed away from a heart attack in Englewood, New Jersey on April 26, 1997, leaving behind a long successful career. He was 87 years old. He was survived by his third wife.