She wanted us to feel we were above everyone in the town. She really did tell us that we were related to Chief Justice John Marshall, and that may have been true. I never did bother to find out.
Well, the Empire State was about 40′ high in the studio. King Kong was a little model about 2′ high, and the scenery that he worked in was in proportion to his size.
Paul Lucas had a particularly amusing accent, so I chuckled. That was terrible; I shouldn’t have done that, but he took it too big. He got up and said he couldn’t work with people who laughed at him!
Crawford washed her hands a lot. She washed her arms all the way up past her elbows. She just couldn’t get enough done in that direction. She was compulsive about being clean, clean, clean!
The producers who wanted me to do it liked me and trusted me, and more than one scene was only one take, because I’d plan ahead what I thought would be appropriate for that scene-so one take was enough.
Actually, the camera was never overhead at any time. It was always a side view of me. Subsequently, after the picture was released, I saw some scenes from above and my clothes being pulled-and I think that was added later.
Cary Grant was wonderful to work with on stage. He would move downstage, so that as he looked at me the audience had to look at me, too. He knew a lot about the theater and how to move around. He was very secure.
When we were making KONG, I went into the sound room and made an aria of horror sounds. I was in charge of it; there was no one there to listen to me. I was totally in charge of what I wanted to do.
Sometimes I worked with just a background of a rock or a tree or black velvet, and just had to imagine the whole thing.
My children didn’t when they were little because I thought that they had to be of a certain age. I hoped they liked me well enough not to want to see me in that sort of a spot.
I don’t know why Sinclair Lewis fell in love with me. He didn’t get even the slightest response from me. But his letters were lovely. And the poems he wrote me were lovely. I used some of them in my book.
That was’ one time when my technique absolutely deserted me, I must admit. There was a wax face that he had created himself to cover his own ugliness. I was in his clutches and I had to hit him in the face.
He was just trying to tease me – I knew that later – but he said he’d have to leave because it wasn’t fair to have anyone in the room who was going to make fun of what he had to say. He had a good sense of humor, really.
I would say the secret is to be enthusiastic about everything that comes into your life. To care, to care about people. To be excited about everything that comes close to you. I love to read. And I love to write, mostly.
It was good for us, I suppose. Those kinds of times produce qualities in us that make us better for having had them. My parents were not getting along. My mother was quite intolerant of friendships that were being developed.
I thought I saw him for what he was-or what I thought he was. And he was talented, no doubt about that. But, he thought his talent was based on misery and that if he became happy it would just go. He believed that.
It was so satisfying for me – a great reward, just to see it done well. And it was beautifully directed by my daughter Susan Riskin. Imagine, a play about my mother directed by my daughter?!
When the picture was finished, they took me into the sound room and then I screamed more for about five minutes just steady screaming, and then they’d cut that in and add it.
Cary Grant and I were doing a play in New York. He had a crush on me. Whenever we went to a party, he would always sit on the floor beside me. I thought that was kind of beautiful, like that’s where he wanted to be.
So I was asked to do horror film after horror film, a series of about five, after that, and some of those were a little too gruesome. I wasn’t too comfortable all the time in those. I didn’t really care for them.
I think the studio gave me that series on purpose, because they knew perfectly well that Robert Riskin was ill and that I needed to go to work. They gave me that series to do.
My next book is Scene by Scene: as Seen by Fay Wray. It’ll be about different incidents. Just my feelings about quite a few people. Attitudes. My thoughts about the universe and simple things like that.
When it was over my daughter said, ‘Oh, I felt so sorry for him – he didn’t want to hurt you, he liked you.’ That was Victoria. When you visualize him up there on top of the Empire State Building, you do feel sorry for him.
There were shots of Kong pulling at my clothes, but only in horizontal and never from above. Never from above.
Lillian Gish thought that there should be a cabinet position for the arts and I think she was right. I think she was right.
I think to have done ‘Titanic’ would have been a tortuous experience altogether. I feel good about where my life is, now. I feel free and joyous and happy and more liberated than I have ever been.
They were very considerate, I must say. Every time I felt I was about to slip out of these fingers and would yell for help, they’d let me down and re-organize things.
I went to Washington to ask for a little residual payment for the people who had written films in the early, early days, people who never got any residuals on tapes or anything at all.
As far as advice, that will be in my next book, my next collection. I certainly never like to instruct anyone, but just say as I feel. That’s the same as advice, isn’t it?