Here are 10 things you should know about Fay Wray, born 111 years today. We have a special fondness for Ms. Wray, given that, some years ago, we enjoyed a brief but memorable encounter with her, which you can read about here.
Fay Wray was born Vina Fay Wray 109 years today in Cardston, Alberta. We have a special fondness for Ms. Wray, given that, some years ago, we enjoyed a brief but memorable encounter with her. Here are 10 FW Did-You-Knows:
- Though born in Canada, Wray grew up in Utah and Southern California and began working as an extra in pictures as a teen. Her first credited roles were in westerns made at Universal.
- In 1926, The Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers chose her as one of thirteen young actresses most likely to be stars in Hollywood (Janet Gaynor and Mary Astor were among the other twelve chosen that year).
- After early success in westerns, Wray became known as a scream queen, due to a run of horror pictures she made in the early 1930s, among them King Kong, Doctor X, Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Vampire Bat and The Most Dangerous Game.
- Wray was paid $10,000 for her work in King Kong, a picture that was so successful it is said to have saved RKO Pictures from bankruptcy.
- Wray valued her writing abilities over her acting career. She published an autobiography—On the Other Hand: A Life Story—and saw one of her plays, The Meadowlark, produced. (She collaborated with Sinclair Lewis on another play, Angela Is Twenty-Two.)
- She was offered the role of Rose in Titanic (1997), but turned it down, leaving the role open for Gloria Stuart.
- Though she lived there only a few years, there is a fountain in Cardston that is named after Wray.
- In the 1950s, Wray worked frequently on television, appearing twice on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and in three episodes of Perry Mason, among many others.
- Peter Jackson had hoped to have Wray speak the final line in his 2005 remake of King Kong, but she passed away, aged 96, before the picture finished filming.
- Two days later, the lights on the Empire State Building were dimmed for 15 minutes as a tribute to her.
Happy birthday, Fay Wray, wherever you may be!
Big news! We’re holding a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive this one-of-a-kind hardbound book that collects the wit and wisdom of 20 actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and it’s available only through Cladrite Radio! If you’ve enjoyed the Hollywood quotes we’ve shared with you in the past, you’ll want to own this volume! Ann Sheridan, Fay Wray, Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck—they’re all here, and many more of your favorite actresses are represented, too!
To enter for your chance to win, just follow us on Twitter and retweet one of the giveaway announcements we’ll be posting through April 11. That’s all there is to it! But hurry—you only have until 6pm ET on Monday, April 11, to follow us and retweet one of our announcements!
Former acrobat Archie Leach, who would go on to worldwide fame as the suave leading man Cary Grant, was born 112 years ago today in Horfield, a suburb of Bristol, England.
Grant was born into a troubled family. His father was an alcoholic and his mother was placed in a mental institution, though young Archie was first told she’d gone off to a seaside resort and later that she’d passed away (she hadn’t), and he wouldn’t see her again for some 20 years.
Archie was active in theatrics as a child, performing with a group of acrobats known as the Bob Pender Stage Troupe. He traveled extensively with the troupe, eventually landing in NYC where the troupe performed on Broadway. When the show closed, Grant decided not to return to England, instead remaining in NYC and touring as a vaudeville performer before eventually moving up to the legitimate theatre. He signed with Paramount Pictures in 1932, and after selecting a new name (with the input of Fay Wray, with whom he’d appeared in a Broadway play called Nikki), he debuted in This Is the Night (1932), opposite Thelma Todd and Lili Damita. Grant wasn’t happy with that film, but the critics praised his performance and he was off and running on his way to a legendary career.
Cary Grant is one of our favorites (and surely one of yours, too), and we wish him a happy birthday, wherever he may be.
We’ve had the good fortune to meet a few stars from the Cladrite Era—Esther Williams, Gloria Stuart, Margaret Whiting, Cab Calloway, Kitty Carlisle—and we’ve enjoyed relatively close encounters (but not personal meetings) with others, among them Benny Goodman, Richard Widmark, Fay Wray, Dickie Moore, Jane Powell, Farley Granger and Francis Dee.
Our greatest regret in this area involves Claudette Colbert, who was born 112 years ago today. In 1985, we got see Ms. Colbert, costarring with Rex Harrison, in a Broadway revival of Frederick Lonsdale‘s 1923 drawing-room comedy Aren’t We All? It was an enjoyable production, and Ms. Colbert, whom we greatly admire, was delightful. So what was the issue?
For some reason, we didn’t wait by the stage door following the show to meet Ms. Colbert. As we said, we’re big fans, and we honestly don’t know what we were thinking in passing up that opportunity, but we’ve regretted it ever since, and ever more so as we became more and more immersed in the cinema of the 1930s and ’40s, when Ms. Colbert was in her glorious prime.
Perhaps in the next life, Ms. Williams or Ms. Carlisle will help us to rectify this misstep and introduce us to Ms. Colbert. But in the meantime, we’re thinking of Claudette Colbert on her birthday. Here’s hoping it’s a happy one, wherever she may be.