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Summary Article: Wray, Fay (1907 Cardston, Alberta, Canada-2004 New York City)
from Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930, An

Courtesy of Silents Are Golden at <SilentsAreGolden.com>

Fay Wray, best remembered as the woman who brought about King Kong's destruction, was raised in Arizona and Utah. After the influenza epidemic of 1918 claimed her older sister, Wray moved with her family to California and began to look for work in the film industry. Her first jobs were in the comedy shorts with Hal Roach's studio. Soon she moved to Universal to play leads in westerns while she honed her talents and learned the industry in which she worked.

Her big break came when she was chosen to play Mitzi Schrammell, the female lead in Erich von Stroheim's classic The Wedding March (1928). Two years earlier she had been chosen as a WAMPAS Baby Star and became Paramount's most publicized new star.

After her marriage in 1928, she continued her heavy filming schedule, appearing in twenty-five features in three years. In 1933 she appeared in the film that secured her place in film history, King Kong. As Ann Darrow in one of the most famous films of all time, King Kong was a variation of the “Beauty and the Beast” theme. It grossed $90,000 in its first four days. In 1998, King Kong was named one of “ 100 greatest films of all time” by the American Film Institute.

Wray starred in Viva Villa! opposite Wallace Beery in 1934; the film was nominated for Best Picture later that year. In 1938 Wray divorced her husband and began the task of raising their daughter, Susan, alone. Two years later her ex-husband killed himself and Wray was truly a single parent. In 1942 Wray again married, and this marriage proved happier than her first.

After a decade of retirement, Wray returned to films when her husband became too ill to work. When her second husband died in 1955, Wray again retired from films. By this time, however, she had already started working in television. In 1953 she was cast as the mother in the situation comedy The Pride of the Family (1953-1955). After the end of this series, she continued to appear in several episodes of both Perry Mason (1957-1966) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965).

In 1989 she published her autobiography, On the Other Hand. In August 1997, an autobiographical play that she had written, The Meadowlark, dealing with life in a copper-mining town in Utah was presented in New Hampshire and directed by her daughter.

She made a special appearance at the seventieth anniversary presentation of The Academy Awards in 1998 and was introduced by Billy Crystal as “the legendary Fay Wray."

Film Credits
1923 Gasoline Love
1925 Your Own Back Yard; Chasing the Chaser; Unfriendly Enemies; Moonlight and Noses; What Price Goofy; The Coast Patrol; Isn't Life Terrible?; Should Sailors Marry ?; Madame Sans Jane; No Father to Guide Him
1926 The Man in the Saddle; Don't Shoot; One Wild Time; Don Key, a Son of Burro; The Wild Horse Stampede; Lazy Lightning
1927 Loco Luck; A One Man Game; Spurs and Saddles
1928 The Legion of the Condemned; Street of Sin; The First Kiss; The Wedding March; The Honeymoon
1929 Thunderbolt; Pointed Heels; The Four Feathers
1930 Paramount on Parade; The Texan; The Border Legion; The Sea God; Captain Thunder; Behind the Make-Up
1931 The Conquering Horde; Three Rogues; Dirigible; The Lawyer's Secret; The Unholy Garden; The Slippery Pearls; The Finger Points
1932 Stowaway; Doctor X; The Most Dangerous Game
1933 Mystery of the Wax Museum; King Kong; Shanghai Madness; One Sunday Afternoon; The Woman I Stole; The Vampire Bat, Master of Men, The Bowery, The Big Brain, Below the Sea, Ann Carver's Profession
1934 The Countess of Monte Cristo; The Affair of Cellini; The Richest Girl in the World; Cheating Cheaters; Woman in the Dark; Once to Every Woman; Madame Spy; The Clairvoyant; Black Moon; Viva Villa!
1935 White Lies; Mills of the Gods; Come Out of the Pantry; Bulldog Jack
1936 When Knights Were Bold; They Met in a Taxi; Roaming Lady
1937 It Happened in Hollywood; Murder in Greenwich Village
1938 The Jury's Secret
1939 Navy Secrets; Smashing the Spy Ring
1940 Wildcat Bus
1941 Adam Had Four Sons; Melody for Three
1942 Not a Ladies' Man
1953 Treasure of the Golden Condor; Small Town Girl
1955 Queen Bee; Hell on Frisco Bay; The Cobweb
1956 Rock Pretty Baby
1957 Crime of Passion; Tammy and the Bachelor
1958 Summer Love; Dragstrip Riot
© 2005 by Denise Lowe

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