[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 9 August, 2004, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
King Kong heroine is dead at 96
Fay Wray
Fay Wray is renowned as the damsel in distress in King Kong
Fay Wray, who played the screaming girl kidnapped by the giant ape in the 1933 film King Kong, has died aged 96.

A spokesman said the Canadian-born actress had died on Sunday in New York.

Wray appeared in more than 70 films. She shot to fame in the 1928 silent classic, The Wedding March, and often played damsels in distress.

She said she had not realised at the time "that King Kong and I were going to be together for the rest of our lives, and longer".

'Not too impressed'

Fay Wray with animator Ray Harryhausen
Fay Wray (left) at the Empire State building earlier this year

She recalled how King Kong Director Merian C Cooper "called me into his office and showed me sketches of jungle scenes, and told me 'You're going to have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood'."

"Naturally, I thought Clark Gable.

"But then he showed me this sketch of a giant ape up the side of the Empire State Building, he said, 'There's your leading man'."

She admitted that at the premiere of the movie, said she had not been "too impressed". Wray was born in 1907 on a farm in Alberta, Canada, but emigrated to Los Angeles with her mother when her parents separated.

She hunted for work in Hollywood and from the age of 16 began picking up parts as an extra in various films.

King Kong

She made her name in horror movies like Doctor X (1932) and The Vampire Bat (1933), and went on to appear with such stars as Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy.

But it was King Kong that secured her immortality on the silver screen.

In April this year film experts voted King Kong the most terrifying movie monster of all time in UK film magazine Empire.

In 1991 Wray was the guest of honour at a ceremony marking the 60th birthday of the Empire State Building.

She said that if she were the mayor of New York, "I would want to run the city from this building... and get up every morning to see the sun rise."

She just kind of drifted off quietly as if she was going to sleep... She just kind of gave out
Friend Rick McKay

Rick McKay, a friend, and the director of her last film, the documentary Broadway: The Golden Age, said she had died at her apartment in Manhattan.

He did not say what the official cause of death was.

"She just kind of drifted off quietly as if she was going to sleep," he said. "She just kind of gave out."

Wray was married three times. She had a daughter, Susan, from her first marriage, and a daughter and son, Victoria and Robert Jr, from the second.

Obituary: Fay Wray
10 Aug 04  |  Entertainment
King Kong tops movie monster poll
03 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
Gollum actor to 'play' King Kong
11 Jun 04  |  Entertainment
Actor Black 'for King Kong role'
30 Mar 04  |  Entertainment
Rings director eyes King Kong
01 Apr 03  |  Entertainment


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific