Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fay Wray

"At the premiere of King Kong I wasn't too impressed. I thought there was too much screaming . . . I didn't realize then that King Kong and I were going to be together for the rest of our lives, and longer . . ."

The Queen of Scream.

The Queen of the Bs.

She drove a car into her nineties.

Saved RKO from bankruptcy with the movie King Kong.

Described Kong as her "little man".

She is regarded as Hollywood's first "scream queen".

And a fellow Canadian? Yup, this girl's got it all.

The legend was born Vina Fay Wray near Cardston, Alberta, Canada, on September 15, 1907. She came from a large family that included five siblings. She moved to Arizona when she was still small in order for her father to find better work than what was offered in Alberta. After moving again to California, her parents divorced, which put the rest of the family in hard times. Being in entertainment-rich Los Angeles, there was ample opportunity to take advantage of the chances that might come her way in the entertainment industry. At the age of 16, Fay played her first role in a motion picture, albeit a small one. GASOLINE LOVE.

Fay Wray first graced the silver screen during the silent movie era, but it was the talkies that truly made her famous.

"Those horror pictures were the parts I was being offered at the time, and the scream came into play in almost all of them. People today call them classics; that amuses me a little, because I had so many reservations about them when I made them. I thought they were much too gruesome."

As the gorgeous blond whose feminine wiles captured the heart of a massive gorilla, Fay belted out screams earning her a place in horror movie history as the very first Scream Queen. Fay was a natural brunette and sported a blond wig for the role.

And although she spent most of the film as a helpless victim, more apt to use her vocal cords than her wits or physical strength, she braved the open sea unsure of her destination, for a chance to be famous –and that takes guts. At the time, she had no idea that the role would be her most famous of all time.

Up against an ape that could scale the empire state building, Fay only screamed until help arrived, but she paved the way for future leading ladies and luckily women have since gone on to kick ass in horror movies giving the moniker of Scream Queen a more modern, updated definition.

KING KONG was the only big horror movie Fay was ever in though she did star in a few lesser known early entries into the genre, including DOCTOR X, THE VAMPIRE BAT, MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, and THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME.

"I was known as the queen of the Bs. If only I'd been a little more selective."

Fay’s career never again reached the heights she attained while on top of the Empire State Building with Kong, but she will always be remembered for her contributions to horror movie history.

"Every time I'm in New York I say a little prayer when passing the Empire State Building. A good friend of mine died up there."
Fay passed away at 96 in 2004, on August 8th.

On August 10, 2004, two days after her death, the lights on the Empire State Building in New York City (scene of the climax from her most popular film, "King Kong") were dimmed for 15 minutes in her memory.


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