On this Day in Movie History, August 8, 2004: Fay Wray Passes

It was on this day, August 8, 2004, the screen’s first “scream queen” Fay Wray, “…just kind of drifted off quietly as if she was going to sleep…” as her friend Rick McKay accounted. “She just kind of gave out.” She was 96 years old. Wray was buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

Born Vina Fay Wray, September 15, 1907, a Canadian-American actress most noted for playing the female lead in King Kong, through an acting career that spanned 57 years, Wray attained international stardom as an actress in horror film roles.

After appearing in minor film roles, Wray gained media attention being selected as one of the “WAMPAS Baby Stars”. This led to Wray being signed to Paramount Pictures as a teenager, where she made more than a dozen films.

After leaving Paramount, she signed deals with various film companies, being cast in her first horror film roles among many other types of roles, including in The Bowery (1933) and Viva Villa (1934), both huge productions starring Wallace Beery.

In 1933 she starred in the film with which she is most identified, King Kong. After the success of King Kong, Wray appeared in many major film roles and on television, finishing her acting career in 1980.

In 2004, Wray was approached by director Peter Jackson to appear in a small cameo for the 2005 remake of King Kong. She politely declined the cameo, and claimed the original “Kong” to be the true “King”. Before filming of the remake commenced., Wray died in her sleep of natural causes.

Two days after her death, the lights of the Empire State Building were extinguished for 15 minutes in her memory.

1910 – Sylvia Sidney (Sophia Kosow) (actress: Beetlejuice, You Only Live Once, Les Miserables, Love from a Stranger; Fantasy Island [1998 series]; died July 1, 1999)

1919 – Dino De Laurentiis (producer: The Bible, Barbarella, Jaws IV)

1922 – Rory Calhoun (Francis Durgin) (actor: Angel, Apache Uprising, River of No Return, Treasure of Pancho Villa; died Apr 28, 1999)

1926 – Richard Anderson (actor: The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Escape from Fort Bravo, The Long Hot Summer, Hit the Deck)

1937 – Dustin Hoffman (Academy Award-winning actor: Rain Man [1989], Kramer vs. Kramer [1980]; The Graduate, Tootsie, Midnight Cowboy, Little Big Man, Dick Tracy, Hook, Search for Tomorrow, Outbreak, Sphere)

1947 – Larry Wilcox (actor: Lassie, CHiPs, The Dirty Dozen, Mission Manila, National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1)

1949 – Keith Carradine (actor: Pretty Baby, The Long Riders, The Moderns, Kung Fu, Will Rogers Follies, Nashville; singer: I’m Easy)

1953 – Don Most (actor: Happy Days, Stewardess School, Dead Man’s Island)

1977 – Lindsay Sloane (actress: Mr. Rhodes, The Wonder Years, Dharma & Greg, Working, My So-Called Life, Between Mother and Daughter)


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