MAJORCA, Spain -- American actress Faye Emerson, daughter-in-law of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a sexy star of early television, has died after a long illness, friends said Thursday. She was 65.
Miss Emerson died Wednesday of stomach cancer at her home, a modernized stone farmhouse in Deya, an artists village perched on cliffs towering above the sea. She lived most of the last 20 years on the sunny Mediterranean island.
'She was a person everbody knew and liked around here,' said a Deya hotel manager. 'She used to come here for years.'
After her six-year marriage to President Roosevelt's son Elliot ended in divorce in 1950, the shapely blonde married Skitch Henderson, a pianist and orchestra leader.
They appeared together on the television shows that made her one of the early stars of the medium. Often referred to as 'The First Lady of Television,' she was credited with inspiring the nickname for the Emmy Awards statuette, whose classic profile and figure resembled hers.
An Emmy award winner, she also was named to the 10 best dressed list. At one point during her television career, the V-shaped necklines of her gowns prompted the suggestion that she put the 'V' in 'TV.'
It was after she divorced Henderson in 1958 that her television career faded, robbing audiences of the sight of her classical facial features and her dresses cut low to accentuate her bosom.
During television's early years, Miss Emerson appeared as a guest on shows hosted by Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. She sat in for Edward R. Murrow on 'Person to Person' and frequently for Dave Garroway on the 'Today' show. She was the award-winning moderator of 'Ladies of the Press' and 'Author Meets the Critics' and a panelist on 'I've Got a Secret,' among other panel shows.
Her first Broadway role was in Molnar's 'The Play's the Thing.' She did four plays with Eva LeGallienne, one of which, 'An Evening with William Shakespeare,' raised money to help build the theater in Stratford Connecticut.
Miss Emerson first acted in so-called 'B' movies in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Among her better films were 'Destination Tokyo,' 'Murder in the Big House,' 'Blues in the Night,' and 'Lady Gangster.'
Miss Emerson, when she first came to Majorca in the early 1960s, lived near the island capital of Palma. She moved on to the tranquil town of Deya about 6 years ago.
The actress was born in Elisabeth, La., July 8, 1917. Her family moved to California and she was brought up in a Roman Catholic convent in San Diego.
A movie scout saw her in an amateur theater performance and signed her to her first contract, with Warner Bros.
She interrupted her career in 1944 to marry Elliott Roosevelt, to whom she was introduced by recluse millionaire film producer Howard Hughes. The marriage prompted wide press coverage, as did their trip to Russia to interview Stalin, the first Westerners allowed in after World War II.
In addition to her other work, Miss Emerson wrote a syndicated column and occasional magazine articles.
Miss Emerson starred in her last film -- 'Guilty Bystander' -- in 1950, but she appeared in a cameo role in 1953 in 'Main Street to Broadway.'
In addition to Roosevelt and Henderson, Miss Emerson was married to William Crawford.
She is survived by her son, William Crawford of Cape Cod, Mass., her mother and two brothers. Private family services were held in Spain.