Fay Wray Overview:

Legendary actress, Fay Wray, was born Vina Fay Wray on Sep 15, 1907 in Cardston, Canada. Wray died at the age of 96 on Aug 8, 2004 in New York City, NY and was laid to rest in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA.

Early Life and Career

Vina Fay Wray was born on September 15th, 1907 in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. She was one of six children born to Mormon parents Elvina and Joseph Wray. Her formative years were  living on a ranch in Canada before moving to the United States while a small child. Her family packed and moved to the Salt Lake City Utah in 1942 before relocated to the smaller city of Lark Utah. They eventually settled in Hollywood where Wray would spend her high school years.

Wray's acting career began while she was still in High School, after being cast in an independent short film titled Gasoline Love. Although the film wasn't particularly successful, Wray found the work enjoyable and began doing extra work when not in school. She appeared in her first leading role in the 1925 short film The Coat Patrol, while also playing small roles at Hal Roach Studios.  In 1926 she was chosen as one of the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers "WAMPAS Baby Stars," a group a of bourgeoning actresses on their way to certain stardom. That year she shared the title with fellow actresses Mary Astor and Janet Gaynor.

Rising Film Career

After completing her contract at Universal studios in 1927, Wray signed on with Paramount Pictures. She was quickly noticed by notorious director, Erich von Stroheim, who cast her as the female lead in his romantic drama The Wedding March. Although the film was praised for it's high production value and Wray was noted for her performance, The Wedding March was nonetheless a financial failure. She remained at Paramount for the next few years, continuing to play leading roles in films like Thunderbolt, The Four Feathers and The Texans. During her time at Paramount she also made the success leap from silent to talkies, surviving a period many of Wray's peers would fail.

After leaving Paramount in the early 1930s, Wray went on work with varying studios on Hollywood. During this time she was cast in series of horror films, including Doctor X, The Vampire Bat, and Mystery of the Wax Museum. Her popularity grew when she signed on with RKO pictures, producing some of her most known work. In 1932 she worked starred opposite Joel McCrea in the silver screen adaption of the The Most Dangerous Game. While she filmed The Most Dangerous Game in the day, she returned to those same jungle sets at night to film another thriller, King Kong.

King Kong and Decline

Although Wray was not the first choice to play Ann Darrow in 1933's King King (it was Jean Harlow that director Merian C. Cooper wanted), it has nonetheless became her most memorable role. Thanks to Wray's natural sex appeal, vulnerability and powerful scream, the image (and sounds) of King Kong carrying Ann Darrow up the Empire State Building has since become on of the memorable scenes in Hollywood history: a true icon of the silver screen. The film was wildly successful, making over 2.8 million at the box office - a hefty sum for the time and saved the fledging RKO studios from bankruptcy. Despite it's popularity with the film going public, it failed to receive a single Oscar nomination.

Immediately following King Kong, Wray maintained a busy schedule, appearing in 11 films in 1934. She also was still assigned so some choice roles in films like Once to Every Women, Viva Villa and Alias Bulldog Drummond. However, by the late-1930s, her career began a steady decline and by the 1940s it was dead in the water. After appearing in the subpar 1942 Lew Landers film Not a Ladies Man, Wray would disappear from the silver screen for over a decade.

Later Career and Life

Due to some financial troubles Wray reentered the acting world in 1953, taking a supporting role in the adventure flick Treasure of the Golden Condor. That year she also began to appear on the growing medium of television when she was cast as the matriarch Catherine Morrison in the early sitcom The Pride of the Family. Although she continued to act in subpar films throughout the 1950s, she found herself guest starring on a myriad of successful television shows such as Kraft Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock, and The David Niven Show. She remained a stable on TV into the next decade series like The Real McCoys, General Electric Theater, and Perry Mason. However, by 1965 she once again retired from the screen, both big and small. She would return to the one last time in 1980 for the made for TV film Gideon's Trumpet.

Later in life Wray wrote an autobiography, On the Other Hand and would go on to make public appearance in her later years. In 1991 Faye was crowned Queen of the Beaux Arts Ball presiding with King Herbert Huncke and then was the guest of honor at the 60th anniversary of the Empire State Building. In 1998 she was a special guest at the Academy Award and made her final public appearance in 2004 an after-party at the Sardi's restaurant in New York City, following the premiere of the documentary film Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There.

Faye Wray died on August 8th, 2004 in New York City. She was 96 years old. 

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).



She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. In addition, Wray was inducted into the Canadian Walk of Fame . Wray was never nominated for an Academy Award.

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Fay Wray Quotes:

Ivan Igor: You know I might have felt a little discouraged tonight, but now everything is exactly as it should be.
Charlotte Duncan: I'm glad.

Alice Pope: You said, "Bill, you better go right out and get your lunch because I've just driven up Mrs Pole's telephone Pope".

Carl Denham: [just before he instructs Ann on how to act in front of the camera] I see you've put on the "Beauty and the Beast" costume!
Ann Darrow: Uh, huh... it's the prettiest!

read more quotes from Fay Wray...

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Fay Wray on the
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Fay Wray Facts
Third husband, Dr. Sanford Rothenberg, was a brain surgeon.

Was guest of honor in 1991, at the 60th birthday of the Empire State Building in New York City.

She had a daughter, 'Susan Riskin', by her first marriage to the writer John Monk Saunders and two children, 'Robert Riskin Jr' and Victoria Riskin, by her second marriage to the writer Robert Riskin.

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Canadian Hall of Fame

Also on the Canadian Walk of Fame

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