Monday, August 8, 2011

Sylvia Sidney, Fay Wray

Who was born on this date:

Actress Sylvia Sidney was born on August 8, 1910 in The Bronx, New York. In 1926, she was seen by a Hollywood talent scout and made her first film appearance later that year. During the Depression, Sidney appeared in a string of films, often playing the girlfriend or the sister of a gangster. Her famous film credits include An American Tragedy, City Streets and Street Scene (all 1931), Sabotage and Fury (both 1936), You Only Live Once, Dead End (both 1937).

After what seemed to be a promising second phase of her career playing opposite the likes of James Cagney in films like Blood on the Sun (1945) with a considerably more glamorous screen persona, her career diminished somewhat during the 1940s. In 1952, she played the role of Fantine in Les Miserables, and her performance was widely praised and allowed her opportunities to develop as a character actress.

In 1973, Sidney received an Academy Award nomination for her supporting role in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams. As an elderly woman Sidney continued to play supporting screen roles, and was identifiable by her husky voice, the result of a lifetime cigarette smoking habit. Her final role was in Mars Attacks!. Sidney died from throat cancer in New York City on July 1, 1999. Her remains were cremated and final disposition is unknown.

Who died on this date:

On August 8, 2004, actress Fay Wray died. She was born on September 15, 1907in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. She is most famous for playing the lead in King Kong. Through an acting career that spanned 57 years, Wray attained international stardom as an actress in horror film roles, leading to many considering her as the first "scream queen.” 

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 Studios 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). At RKO Pictures, she starred in the film with which she is most identified, King Kong (1933).

After the success of King Kong, she continued to star in various films, but by the early 1940s, her appearances became sporadic. She retired from acting in 1942, after her second marriage. However, due to financial problems she had to continue acting, and over the next three decades, Wray appeared in minor film roles and also frequently on television. Wray died in her sleep of natural causes on August 8, 2004, in her Manhattan apartment and is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Two days after her death, the lights of the Empire State Building were extinguished for 15 minutes in her memory., author of Fade to Black: Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950

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