August 09, 2004

Fay Wray -- RIP

Fay Wray died yesterday, something that seems terribly sad to me. She's probably best remembered for her famous co-star:

Fay1.jpg

I have in front of me The King Kong Story -- "US & Canada $1.95" -- published in 1976 by something called Phoebus Publishing Co. to hype the vastly inferior Dino di Laurentis remake of the 1933 classic. As a kid, I remember looking forward to the remake with such anticipation, and how disappointed I was -- the original, with its balky stop-motion animation, seemed far more "real" than the newer version. But I see I've already slipped into talking about Kong, rather than Fay Wray.

My little book informs us,

Fay Wray was forever to receive scripts that called for her to swoon in the face of danger, be dismissed in encyclopedias as "a great screamer" and remembered only as the girl whose clothes were peeled off by a monster ape.

That's a rather harsh epitaph; the Post notes that she was known for other films as well:

A major break came in 1928, with the release of Erich von Stroheim's hit epic "The Wedding March." The famed director said he did not even bother to test Ms. Wray for the part, citing her enormous sex appeal. He cast himself as a prince and her as a peasant girl.

She then worked with some of the most-renowned directors of the period, usually on fast-paced, action-oriented fare. Among them were Josef von Sternberg ("Thunderbolt," 1929), George Abbott ("The Sea God," 1930) and Frank Capra ("Dirigible," 1931).

The wonderful site Silent Ladies and Gents lists Fay Wray among the Vamps, and has a too small gallery of her photos there, from which I've lifted the following image.

Fay2.jpg

I haven't seen any of Wray's silent films, but I've added The Wedding March to my list of things to get around to -- it seems only fitting to see how a woman derided as being nothing more than a good screamer carried herself in a silent film.


Posted by Ideofact at August 9, 2004 11:33 PM
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