Fay Wray got her start in silent movies in 1923 and performed in more than 70 films during an extensive acting career. But it was her role in King Kong that immortalized her as the giant ape’s beautiful object of affection. Nine months after the film’s premier, Wray joined the four-month-old Screen Actors Guild on November 10, 1933.
Just days earlier founding member Arthur Vinton, head of the Guild’s Membership Committee, received this excited letter from actor Kenneth Thomson, Guild Secretary: “Dear Arthur: I have just been informed that Fay Wray is on Stage 12 at Universal, and that she wants to join the Guild. So do your stuff!” Years later, on May 1, 1968, she was made a Life Member of Screen Actors Guild, along with Mae West and Robert Young.
In 1994, Fay expressed her gratitude for the Guild’s creation: “I gained a lot, didn’t I? I gained protection from working those particular long hours. And it wasn’t only the Kong picture, but everything that one did. On Saturdays, you didn’t get home until after 12 o’clock at night, because they knew they were supposed to let you rest a little on Sunday. They took advantage of everybody, I think, to keep things going as late as they possibly could. And so we worked – six days, full days a week plus late night on Saturday. If you hadn’t loved your work, you would have been mighty unhappy. The Guild made a difference about all those things, and it’s just a good feeling to know they soon came to the rescue. Yes, it was a strong, good feeling to have the Guild. And still is. ”