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Vintage Scream Queens: Fay Wray

Fay Wray in King Kong

Fay Wray is perhaps the most famous of all the early scream queens because of her role as Ann Darrow in King Kong.

She began her career aged just 19 in 1926 as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars (actresses who the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers thought were on the threshold of movie stardom). Despite making some 30 movies during this period and successfully making the transition from silent movies into talkies she didn’t truly gain A list status until the early 1930s.

She began acting in Horror movies where she excelled in the role of the sexy woman in peril and really made her name when she starred in King Kong in 1933.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Fay Wray and King Kong:

  1. While she was shooting King Kong, she was also shooting scenes for The Most Dangerous Game on the same set. The jungle scenes were used for King Kong during the daytime and The Most Dangerous Game at night.
  2. Jean Harlow was RKO’s original choice for the lead role in King Kong. Ginger Rogers was also considered for the part.
  3. King Kong was a huge commercial success and saved RKO from bankruptcy.
  4. Fay Wray was offered a cameo in the 2005 remake of King Kong, but she declined to take part.
  5. Wray wasn’t naturally blonde and wore a blonde wig to play the part as Ann Darrow in King Kong. The RKO board decided a blonde would provide contrast against the darkness of the gorilla.
  6. All of her screams were recorded in one afternoon session – I bet she had a sore throat that evening!
  7. When Fay Wrap passed away in 2004 the lights on the Empire State building were dimmed for 15 minutes in her memory.
Fay Wray in Most Dangerous Game

The Most Dangerous Game (film, 1932) depicting Fay Wray and Joel McCrea, which was shot at the same time on the same set as King Kong

Fay Wray

Publicity photo of Fay Wray for Argentinean Magazine, October 1933.

Fay Wray

Cesar Romero, Fay Wray, director Richard Thorpe, and cinematographer George Robinson (behind them) on the set of Cheating Cheaters 1934

Image source and copyright: 1, 2, 3, 4, This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed.

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