Fey Sommers (November 15, 1958 - August 28, 2006) is a fictional character in the American dramedy series Ugly Betty ;and is believed to be based on Anna Wintour. She is played in some TV clips clips by Christine Jones and in others by another actress, who also appeared as Fey in still photographs, like the one in Fey's crypt. In the second season, series regular Becki Newton, who plays Fey's daughter Amanda Tanen, also played Fey in flashback scenes. On her tomb, there is a French sentence La Mode ne meurt jamais which could be translated as Mode never dies. The sentence is also a play on words as "mode" means fashion in French.
Fey Sommers was the previous and much-revered editor-in-chief of Mode magazine. She died before the series in a bizarre accident, in which her car was burned in a mysterious hit-and-run.
However, her death raised more questions than answers; when Bradford Meade went to her funeral, he said the casket was closed; meanwhile, suspicions were cast over Wilhelmina Slater, whose visits to a clinic to see "The Masked Lady", swathed in bandages, fueled speculation Sommers had survived the crash and was plotting to resume control of Mode magazine.
When Bradford visited Fey's gravesite, a person who fitted Fey's description showed up. Bradford chased her, but hours later his private detective, Steve, advised him the camera caught no footage of Fey Sommers and hinted Bradford might be losing his mind.
However, Bradford's theory about Fey not being in the casket was proved right -- not only was the casket empty, but Steve was indeed working with the Mysterious Bandaged Woman to confuse Bradford and make him believe he may be going crazy and would pay for it with his life. Bradford believed Fey survived the crash and brought in an associate named Mr. Green to find her at any cost. Mr. Green provided Bradford with a file allegedly proving Fey had died after all and a relative identified the remains, leading to more questions about the mystery woman's true involvement and intentions.
In the episode "I'm Coming Out" Bradford was arrested for Fey's murder, after he was set up by the Mysterious Bandaged Woman, revealed to be his own post-op transsexual daughter Alexis Meade, formerly Alex Meade. Alexis used Fey's murder to get back at her father for disowning her after she told Bradford about wanting to become a woman. However, in the episode "Brothers", Claire Meade, the family matriarch, confessed to Betty that she was Fey's actual murderer.
In the episode Icing On the Cake, Claire described Fey as "a conniving and manipulative bitch who got what she deserved." Grace Chin (played by Lucy Liu), formerly the lawyer to defend the Meades, said she could convince the jury and judge Claire believed Fey would have killed her, had Claire not killed her first.
Later, in Punch Out, trash author Quincy Jones revealed secrets from "Fey Sommers' Diaries", such as the fact Bradford (who she called "B") was a foot fetishist who she kept interested with via daily pedicures, Dead Sea salts and paraffin treatments. The diaries also contained information on Bradford's treatment of Alex(is), and a secret hideaway at MODE called "The Love Dungeon", located in Christina McKinney's workspace, the Mode closet, where she and Bradford carried out their romance. Marc St. James and Amanda Tanen later stumbled upon the hideaway, where they discover sex toys and fetish gear among goodies Fey left behind.
When Amanda and Christina got locked inside the Love Dungeon, they found Fey's safe. Inside the safe was Fey's missing diaries and photos of Amanda as a child as well as Amanda's birth certificate saying Fey was Amanda's real mother. This revelation led to Amanda trying to discover her real father. She learns from Wilhelmina, who during the early eighties was Fey's assistant (then known by her real name, Wanda), Fey conceived Amanda with a mysterious man with a Tweety Bird tattoo during a drunken party at Studio 54. When she found out, Wanda promised to keep it a secret so long as Fey would pay for her transformation into supermodel, Wilhelmina Slater.
A tradition of hers included attending Mode's Black and White Ball in a stunning red gown, remarking, "Black and White Ball? I guess I didn't get the memo!"
In the episode "Odor in the Court", as Claire went to trial for Fey's murder, evidence surfaced in the Love Dungeon, along with a bottle of perfume Claire gave to Betty for safekeeping during the trial. Fey's diary revealed in an attempt to kill Claire, Fey had sent a bottle of poisoned perfume to Bradford to give to Claire as a 'souvenir' that would drive her to madness and kill her. By a stroke of fate, Claire's insanity resulted in Fey's own death instead. Amanda chose to withhold this evidence as she blamed Claire for killing her mother. After Betty nearly killed herself with the perfume, Amanda handed over the evidence and Claire was found not guilty and freed. MODE returned to Claire's control.
The mystery about Fey's death continues to leave a lot of unanswered questions. In a press release, Executive Producer Silvio Horta announced although Wilhelmina and Alexis were trying to convince Bradford he was going insane, this sub-plot failed. Horta stated, in response to an inquiry made as to whether Fey was truly dead, "Um, no?"
As of 2009, Horta revealed to "Ugly Betty" fans a hint of minor details Fey's "death" might have been staged all along, leading to indications in the upcoming fourth season, her presence will really be felt in more ways than one. In the season 3 finale, Wilhelmina Slater dropped her glass and said 'What are you doing here?'. Could that've been Fey Sommers?
Bradford Meade - Employer; Owner of Meade Publications; Fey had a 25-year affair with Bradford, who tampered with the steering on her car at the time of her death.
Claire Meade - Bradford's wife; Fey's rival; Fey attempted to kill Claire by secretly poisoning her, but her plan backfired when Claire (in a fit of jealous psychotic rage) cut the brakes on Fey's car, resulting in her death.
Wilhelmina Slater - Personal assistant in 1981; Wilhelmina (known as "Wanda" at the time) witnessed Fey's one-night stand at Studio 54 , and in exchange for keeping her pregnancy a secret, Fey agreed to pay for Wanda's transformation into supermodel Wilhelmina.
Mr. Tanen - Accountant; Amanda's adopted father; Fey was a close friend of the Tanen family and when Amanda's acting career went downhill in 2005, Mr. Tanen persuaded Fey to find Amanda a job working at Mode. Mr. Tanen and his wife Rosemary agreed to adopt Amanda because they couldn't have children of their own.