We suspect you know this: she was a remarkable beauty in her time and certainly comely by contemporary standards. Have there been many other actresses in movie history so identified with one single role?
We suspect not.
Born Vina Fay Wray on a farm in Alberta Canada, she actually made a fair number of pictures, some 123 credits spread over the early silent movie era right up to 1980. Wray live a long life, dying at 96 in New York City.
That last locale was fitting since her major opus, the beauty and the beast epic King Kong, opened in 1933 at the city’s two big showcases at the time — Radio City Music Hall and the Roxy Theater. And, of course, there is the Empire State Building from which the giant ape from Skull Island gently places her character (actress Ann Darrow) on a top ledge of the (then) 102-story skyscraper after which he furiously fights off bullets from fighter planes before plunging to his death.
Wray later wrote that when I’m in New York I look at the building and feel it belongs to me, or is it vice versa?
Ok, but there are more things to know about Fay Wrap than King Kong. Let’s see how much you know. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow.
1) Question: The success of King Kong led to several other Thirties movie roles in which her life or her virtue (or both) were under attack. Which of the following titles did she NOT appear in? a) Dr. X; b) The Mystery of the Wax Museum; c) The Vampire Bat; or d) The Most Dangerous Game.
2) Question: Wray was always a knockout onscreen, and drew more than her share of famous lovers offscreen. Which one of the following was NOT one of her lovers? a) Sinclair Lewis; b) Clifford Odets; c) screenwriter Robert Riskin; or d) Gary Cooper.
3) Question: Fay Wray and actor/director Erich von Stroheim shared something in common? What was it? a) A short term sexual affair; b) Both declared bankruptcy at the same time; c) The silent movie classic The Wedding March; or d) Both played roles in Sunset Boulevard.
4) Question: Although she “retired” from movies in 1942, Wray found took a leading role her financial ruin in the in an ABC tv series which ran from 1953 to 1954, and which also starred a very young actress who grew up to be a major movie star. Can you name the tv series, and who that teenage actress was?
5) Question: Wray’s first of three marriages was a disaster, and resulted in her financial ruin by the early 1940’s. a) True; or b) False.