Here are 10 things you should know about Audrey Totter, born 103 years ago today. Few women excelled in the genre of film noir as did Totter. As she stated in 1999, “The bad girls were so much fun to play. I wouldn’t have wanted to play…good-girl parts.”
Here are 10 things you should know about Ann Rutherford, born 101 years ago today. She appeared in more than 60 movies, nearly one-fifth of which were Andy Hardy pictures.
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!
We thought we’d mark the occasion by sharing this recording of a 1936 radio broadcast featuring a recollection of the events of that tragic night by Second Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller, who was the most senior officer to survive the disaster. This broadcast, nearly 76 years old, was at the time looking back at a relatively recent event, a sea disaster that had occurred just 24 years earlier.
Would that we had similar accounts from witnesses to all of history’s memorable events.
I Was There: Commander C. H. Lightoller (23 min.; Nov. 1, 1936)