biography

Born Vina Fay Wray in Alberta, Canada, on September 15, 1907, actress Fay Wray's family moved to the US in 1910, eventually settling in Utah. Ill for much of her youth, her health improved into her teens when her mother, now divorced, relocated to southern California in the early 1920s. While a teenager Wray started in films, beginning in 1923. She acted in a number of shorts at Hal Roach Studios and initially acted in comedies that usually starred James Finlayson and were often directed by Stan Laurel. Wray also appeared in at least one Our Gang comedy short and also acted in westerns. By the time Wray was 20 years old, she was the star of Erich von Stroheim's The Wedding March (1928; with Zasu Pitts) and was under contract to Paramount. Fortunate enough to make the transition to talkies in the late 1920s, she developed a scream-queen reputation in the early 1930s starring in the early (2-strip) Technicolor horror films Doctor X (1932; with Lionel Atwill and Preston Foster) and Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933; with Lionel Atwill and Glenda Farrell). This horror rep was cemented with the release of The Vampire Bat (1933; with Lionel Atwill and Melvyn Douglas) and King Kong (1933; with Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot). Although she's best remembered for her horror films, in reality Wray acted in far more comedies and dramas. Fearing typecasting, she shied away from horror films and her career suffered as a result and began to fade in the mid 1930s, around the time she signed with Columbia, at the time a fledgling, struggling studio with a poverty row reputation. Starring in a number of second-feature B movies, Wray acted in such films as They Met in a Taxi (1936; with Chester Morris), Smashing the Spy Ring (1939; with Ralph Bellamy), and Not a Ladies' Man (1942; with Paul Kelly).

Fay WrayFay WrayFay Wray

LEFT: Late 1920s or early 1930s Paramount publicity photo of Fay Wray. CENTER: Intriguing early 1930s photo, possibly by Warner Bros. RIGHT: Glamorous Columbia promotional photo

Wray married screenwriter John Monk Saunders in 1928, but the marriage later soured due to Saunders' alcoholism. She gave birth to her first child, a daughter, in 1938, but the couple separated soon afterward, divorcing in 1939. Saunders committed suicide shortly thereafter. Wray remarried in 1942, this time to screenwriter Robert Riskin, and she retired from the screen to raise her growing family, as Wray eventually had a son and another daughter with Riskin.

the films of fay wray

The Wedding March (1928)

Fay Wray

From Erich von Stroheim's masterpiece The Wedding March, released by Paramount. LEFT: Wray as the tragic heroine Mitzi Schrammell.

The Conquering Horde (1931)

Fay Wray and Richard Arlen

With frequent costar Richard Arlen in the Paramount western The Conquering Horde

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

Fay Wray and Joel McCrea

With Joel McCrea in RKO's thriller The Most Dangerous Game

Ann Carver's Profession (1933)

Fay Wray, Gene Raymond, Arthur Pierson, and Claude Gillingwater

As lawyer Ann Carver, Fay Wray defends husband Gene Raymond in a murder charge in the Columbia drama Ann Carver's Profession. Also pictured are Arthur Pierson and Claude Gillingwater

The Bowery (1933)

George Raft and Fay Wray

With George Raft in the United Artists release The Bowery

King Kong (1933)

Fay WrayBruce Cabot, Fay Wray, and Robert Armstrong

RKO's King Kong saved the studio from bankruptcy in the early 1930s. LEFT: Wray as the beautiful actress Ann Darrow. RIGHT: Bruce Cabot was Wray's love interest and Robert Armstrong portrays Wray's director in the film.

One Sunday Afternoon (1933)

Neil Hamilton, Frances Fuller, Fay Wray, and Gary Cooper

Lobby card from Paramount's romantic comedy One Sunday Afternoon with Neil Hamilton, Frances Fuller, Fay Wray, and Gary Cooper

The Vampire Bat (1933)

Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, and Melvyn DouglasLionel Atwill and Fay Wray

From Majestic's low-budget horror flick The Vampire Bat. LEFT: With Lionel Atwill and Melvyn Douglas. RIGHT: With Lionel Atwill, with whom Wray costarred in three horror films in 1932 and 1933

Once to Every Woman (1934)

ralph Bellamy and Fay Wray

With George Raft in the United Artists release The Bowery

Park Avenue Dame (1937)

Fay Wray

Wray as the glamorous Lucky Cabot in the Columbia mystery Park Avenue Dame

Melody for Three (1941)

Andrew Tombes, Walter Woolf King, and Fay Wray

With Andrew Tombes and Walter Woolf King in the RKO second-feature drama Melody for Three

The Pride of the Family (1953-1955 ABC TV Series)

Bobby Hyatt, Fay Wray, Paul Hartman, and Natalie Wood

Wray starred as mom Catherine Morrison in the ABC-TV comedy series The Pride of the Family. Also pictured are Bobby Hyatt, Paul Hartman, and Natalie Wood

Summer Love (1958)

John Saxon, Fay Wray, and Edward Platt

From the Universal-International musical comedy Summer Love with John Saxon and Edward Platt

The Eleventh Hour (1962-1964 NBC TV Series)

Fay Wray, Fabian, and Philip Ober

With Fabian and Philip Ober in a January 1964 episode of the TV drama The Eleventh Hour

later years

Some ten years after Fay Wray retired from the screen, her husband suffered a debilitating stroke; to support her family and seriously ill husband, Wray went back to work in films and in the then-new medium of television, taking supporting roles in such films as Treasure of the Golden Condor (1953; with Cornel Wilde), Rock, Pretty Baby (1956; with John Saxon) and Dragstrip Riot (1958; with Gary Clarke). Wray's second husband died in 1955. She also accepted a role in ABC's early situation comedy The Pride of the Family, which lasted for two seasons. And she guest-starred on a number of popular television programs, including Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Hawaiian Eye until her second retirement in the mid 1960s. In recent years she was an interview subject for countless documentaries about Hollywood's golden age. Sadly, Fay Wray passed away on August 8, 2004, at the age of 96; she was survived by two daughters, a son, and two grandchildren.

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filmography

FILM
Gideon's Trumpet (1980) with Henry Fonda, Jose Ferrer, John Houseman, Sam Jaffe, Dean Jagger, Nicholas Pryor, Dolph Sweet, and Ford Rainey
Dragstrip Riot (1958) with Yvonne Lime, Gary Clarke, and Connie Stevens
Summer Love (1958) with John Saxon, Rod McKuen, Jill St. John, Troy Donahue, Shelley Fabares, Edward Platt, and Beverly Washburn
Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) with Debbie Reynolds, Leslie Nielsen, Walter Brennan, Mala Powers, Sidney Blackmer, Mildred Natwick, Philip Ober, and Louise Beavers
Crime of Passion (1957) with Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, Raymond Burr, Virginia Grey, Royal Dano, and Stuart Whitman
Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) with Sal Mineo, John Saxon, Luana Patten, Edward Platt, Rod McKuen, and Shelley Fabares
Queen Bee (1955) with Joan Crawford, Barry Sullivan, Betsy Palmer, John Ireland, and William Leslie
The Cobweb (1955) with Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer, Gloria Grahame, Lillian Gish, Susan Strasberg, Oscar Levant, Tommy Rettig, and Adele Jergens
Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) with Alan Ladd, Edward G. Robinson, Joanne Dru, William Demarest, Nestor Paiva, and Willis Bouchey
Small Town Girl (1953) with Jane Powell, Farley Granger, Ann Miller, Bobby Van, Billie Burke, Nat 'King' Cole, and William Campbell
Treasure of the Golden Condor (1953) with Cornel Wilde, Anne Bancroft, George Macready, Leo G. Carroll, and Robert Blake
Not a Ladies' Man (1942) with Paul Kelly and Don Beddoe
Adam Had Four Sons (1941) with Ingrid Bergman, Warner Baxter, Susan Hayward, Richard Denning, and June Lockhart
Melody for Three (1941) with Jean Hersholt, Astrid Allwyn, and Irene Ryan
Wildcat Bus (1940) with Charles Lang
Navy Secrets (1939) with Grant Withers and Dewey Robinson
Smashing the Spy Ring (1939) with Ralph Bellamy, Regis Toomey, and Ann Doran
The Jury's Secret (1938) with Kent Taylor, Jane Darwell, and Nan Grey
Park Avenue Dame (1937) with Richard Arlen
It Happened in Hollywood (1937) with Richard Dix, Victor Kilian, and Franklin Pangborn
They Met in a Taxi (1936) with Chester Morris and Lionel Stander
Roaming Lady (1936) with Ralph Bellamy
When Knights Were Bold (1936) with Jack Buchanan
White Lies (1935) with Victor Jory, Irene Hervey, and William Demarest
Alias Bulldog Drummond (1935) with Jack Hulbert and Ralph Richardson
Come Out of the Pantry (1935) with Jack Buchanan
Woman in the Shadows (1934) with Ralph Bellamy and Melvyn Douglas
Cheating Cheaters (1934) with Cesar Romero and Minna Gombell
The Richest Girl in the World (1934) with Miriam Hopkins, Joel McCrea, Reginald Denny, and George Meeker
Black Moon (1934) with Jack Holt
The Affairs of Cellini (1934) with Constance Bennett, Fredric March, and Frank Morgan
Viva Villa! (1934) with Wallace Beery, Leo Carrillo, Stu Erwin, and Katherine DeMille
Once to Every Woman (1934) with Ralph Bellamy and Jane Darwell
The Countess of Monte Cristo (1934) with Paul Lukas, Reginald Owen, and Patsy Kelly
Madame Spy (1934)
The Clairvoyant (1934) with Claude Rains
Mills of the Gods (1934) with May Robson, Victor Jory, and Mayo Methot
Master of Men (1933) with Jack Holt
The Bowery (1933) with Wallace Beery, George Raft, and Jackie Cooper
One Sunday Afternoon (1933) with Gary Cooper, Roscoe Karns, Neil Hamilton, and Jane Darwell
The Big Brain (1933) with George E. Stone, Phillips Holmes, Minna Gombell, and Reginald Owen
Shanghai Madness (1933) with Spencer Tracy, Ralph Morgan, and Eugene Pallette
The Woman I Stole (1933) with Jack Holt, Donald Cook, Noah Beery, and Raquel Torres
Ann Carver's Profession (1933) with Gene Raymond
Below the Sea (1933) with Ralph Bellamy
King Kong (1933) with Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot
Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) with Lionel Atwill, Glenda Farrell, and Frank McHugh
The Vampire Bat (1933) with Lionel Atwill, Melvyn Douglas, George E. Stone, and Dwight Frye
The Most Dangerous Game (1932) with Joel McCrea, Robert Armstrong, and Noble Johnson
Doctor X (1932) with Lionel Atwill, Lee Tracy, Preston Foster, and Mae Busch
Stowaway (1932) with Leon Ames and Roscoe Karns
The Unholy Garden (1931) with Ronald Colman
The Lawyer's Secret (1931) with Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, Richard Arlen, and Jean Arthur
The Finger Points (1931) with Richard Barthelmess, Regis Toomey, and Clark Gable
Dirigible (1931) with Jack Holt and Roscoe Karns
Three Rogues (1931) with Victor McLaglen and Joyce Compton
The Conquering Horde (1931) with Richard Arlen
Captain Thunder (1930)
The Sea God (1930) with Richard Arlen and Eugene Pallette
The Border Legion (1930) with Jack Holt, Richard Arlen, and Eugene Pallette
The Texan (1930) with Gary Cooper
Paramount on Parade (1930)
Behind the Make-Up (1930) with William Powell and Kay Francis
Pointed Heels (1929) with William Powell, Helen Kane, and Eugene Pallette
The Four Feathers (1929) with Richard Arlen, William Powell, and Noah Beery
Thunderbolt (1929) with George Bancroft and Richard Arlen
The Wedding March (1928) with Erich von Stroheim and Zasu Pitts
The First Kiss (1928) with Gary Cooper
Street of Sin (1928) with Emil Jannings
The Legion of the Condemned (1928) with Gary Cooper
The Honeymoon (1928) with Erich von Stroheim and Zasu Pitts
Spurs and Saddles (1927)
A One Man Game (1927)
Loco Luck (1927)
Lazy Lightning (1926)
The Wild Horse Stampede (1926)
The Man in the Saddle (1926) with Hoot Gibson and Boris Karloff
Moonlight and Noses (1925) with James Finlayson
Your Own Back Yard (1925)
Should Sailors Marry? (1925) with Oliver Hardy
Unfriendly Enemies (1925) with James Finlayson; directed by Stan Laurel
Madame Sans Jane (1925) with James Finlayson
Chasing the Chaser (1925) with James Finlayson
Thundering Landlords (1925) with James Finlayson
Isn't Life Terrible? (1925) with Charley Chase and Oliver Hardy
Sure-Mike (1925)
The Coast Patrol (1925)
No Father to Guide Him (1925) with Charley Chase
Just a Good Guy (1924)
Gasoline Love (1923)

TELEVISION SERIES
The Pride of the Family, 1953-1955 ABC TV series. Wray portrayed Catherine Morrison

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Fatal Fetish, originally aired March 4, 1965
The Eleventh Hour, episode You're So Smart, Why Can't You Be Good?, originally aired January 22, 1964
Wagon Train, episode The Cole Crawford Story, originally aired April 11, 1962
General Electric Theater, episode Money and the Minister, originally aired November 26, 1961
The Islanders, episode Flight from Terror, originally aired October 9, 1960
Hawaiian Eye, episode The Bequest of Arthur Goodwin, originally aired March 9, 1960
77 Sunset Strip, episode Who Killed Cock Robin?, originally aired February 5, 1960
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Watery Witness, originally aired October 10, 1959
Playhouse 90, episode The Second Happiest Day, originally aired June 25, 1959
The David Niven Show, episode The Promise, originally aired May 5, 1959
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode The Morning After, originally aired January 11, 1959
Perry Mason, episode The Case of the Prodigal Parent, originally aired June 7, 1958
Alfred Hitchcock Presents, episode Dip in the Pool, originally aired June 1, 1958
Kraft Television Theatre, episode Eddie, originally aired January 22, 1958
General Electric Theater, episode The Iron Horse, originally aired November 24, 1957
Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, episode Killer's Pride, originally aired January 29, 1957
Studio 57, episode Exit Laughing, originally aired April 1, 1956
The 20th Century-Fox Hour, episode In Times Like These, originally aired February 22, 1956
Screen Directors Playhouse, episode It's Always Sunday, originally aired January 11, 1956
Studio 57, episode My Son Is Gone, originally aired October 1, 1955
Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, episode Holiday in Autumn, originally aired September 20, 1955
Damon Runyon Theater, episode There's No Forever, originally aired August 20, 1955
Cavalcade of America, episode One Nation Indivisable, originally aired December 22, 1953

fay wray film now showing

Watch Fay Wray's 1933 horror film The Vampire Bat

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