Fay Wray’s career and life is being celebrated in an excellent new book written by her daughter Victoria Riskin, Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir. I personally came to know Fay much later in our mutual lives and she was so gracious and kind to come to events honoring my father, Gary Cooper. Her husband, Robert Riskin, had written two of my father’s very important films, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Meet John Doe. A personal connection I share with her in a tangential way is the story that came out of the original movie King Kong in which she starred with Robert Armstrong. The mighty gorilla Kong has been captured but while in New York City, Kong breaks loose from his confinement and is scaling the Empire State Building. A young budding actress named Sandra Shaw is sleeping in one of its hotel rooms and in sheer terror as Kong is devastating everything in its path, the actress leaps from her bed and rushes, arms flung wide and screaming, out the window as the great ape approaches.
Well, Sandra Shaw happened to be my mother - Veronica (Rocky), later Mrs. Gary Cooper - in her very brief film career. Acting was not her “thing” and she laughingly used to say, “I was so bad they even had to dub my scream. Gary saved me from a horrible fate - a totally failed actress.” Fay and my family stayed in touch through the years and I’m so glad this book by her daughter will give a contemporary audience the pleasure of learning about her personal and professional life.