King Kong

All posts tagged King Kong

In Retrospect: Ruby Dandridge

Published August 15, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

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While Dorothy Dandridge is recognized as one of the tragic goddesses of celluloid history, she was not the only accomplished performer in her family.

Ruby and DorothyDorothy’s mother Ruby was a highly regarded character actress, in her own right. Beginning her career as a dancer in the classic King Kong, Dandridge eventually became known for providing accomplished persona work in such mainstream MGM films as Saratoga Trunk and The Clock. In the ‘50s and early ‘60s, she was also a common fixture on a variety of television shows.

Unfortunately, like many of her contemporaries, Dandridge spent the majority of her career acting out the over the top antics of frazzled domestics or appearing as helpful shop keepers to such prominently billed performers as Ingrid Bergman and Judy Garland. Ruby Dandrige

Personally, the little information that is available about her online highlights her as woman obsessed with her career who had little time for Dorothy and her siblings. Instead, she left the bulk of the child rearing duties to her romantic partner, Geneva Williams. Williams was noted for treating her inherited offspring harshly while relentlessly training them for careers in show business.

Thus, as we crawl our way into more progressive times, it may be natural for one to wonder if Dandridge’s maternal instincts might have been more on cue if she actually was allowed to fully bloom as a performer and not have to stare down racism at every turn. While pondering this, we can also appreciate the professional glow and earnest determination she brought to the opportunities that she was given whenever she appears, magically young and full of life, on our late-night nostalgia strewn television screens.

Ruby Dandridge performing

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Randall Edwards

Published January 10, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

RandallGorilla.jpgA mad man was threatening to freeze frame the world. Fair ingénues were being buried alive. And over at Ryan’s Hope, the comically conniving Delia was kidnapped by a gorilla in a daytime television take on King Kong’s love struck antics. Such was the world of the early ‘80s soaps and the game and lovely Randall Edwards was a huge part of that zany atmosphere.

Taking over the role of Delia from the incredibly popular Ilene Kirsten, Edwards eventually made the role her own while simultaneously thrilling old school horror lovers with her best Fay Wray impression. Purposely grabbing a lion’s share of publicity, this attention seeking storyline surely prepared Edwards for some theatrical scrutiny that was soon to follow.RandallPeople

After a successful showing in Neil Simon’s critically acclaimed Biloxi Blues, Edwards was cast as sassy showgirl Kiki Roberts in the 1988 Broadway production of Legs Diamond. The show, nicely, gave her an ample chance to show off her singing and dancing talents in numbers such as I Was Made for Champagne and Only Steal From Thieves. Expensively produced and starring popular singer-songwriter Peter Allen, this production eventually went down in history as being one of show business’ most notorious flops, causing the permanent closing of the theater in which it debuted.

RandallLegsOf course, time has thankfully brought out kinder reactions to the project. Allen’ score has been favorably reexamined and several of the songs were included in The Boy From Oz, the popular retelling of his life starring Hugh Jackman. Nicely, a 30th anniversary concert recreation of the show even featured a still beautiful, dizzily potent Edwards.

Reportedly now a psychologist, it would definitely make her many fans “go ape” if this talented woman would continue to make occasional appearances in creative situations.

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Horror Mash-Up: Fay Wray and Farley Granger

Published March 23, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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As with many superstars, Mary Astor and Constance Bennett among them, King Kong’s expressive Fay Wray found herself playing mothers of grown daughters onscreen far too soon. Nicely, Wray finds plenty of moments to bring a sense of charm and joy to her Mrs. Gordon Kimbell – no first name given!!! – in the 1953 MGM musical Small Town Girl.

Mothering musical sensation Jane Powell as she romances Farley Granger’s society playboy (while simultaneously wrangling her way through the rest of her loved one’s strong personalities), Wray is able to show moments of exasperated tenderness over her brood’s foibles and eccentricities while providing evidence that she is the force that keeps her family on the right track. Small Farley

Terror celebrants, meanwhile, will be pleased to see Wray, whose other horror credits include Doctor X and Mystery in the Wax Museum, share a scene or two with Granger. Granger, who proves here that he was one of the most striking presences in the Golden Age of Hollywood, is well known for his work in Hitchcock’s homoerotic masterpieces, Rope and Strangers on a Train. Besides that amazing contribution to the legacy of dark cinema, this eclectic specimen appeared in a variety of Giallo enterprises (So Sweet, So Dead, Something Creeping in the Dark, What Have They Done to Your Daughters?) and enlivened the beloved 1981 slasher The Prowler, which is highlighted by Tom Savini’s gruesome effects work.

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Cherrelle

Published August 19, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

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The union of Fay Wray and King Kong was so popular that they are even included in TCM’s Leading Couples book. Naturally, this tragic romance between beautiful human and hirsute simian has been praised and parodied multiple times. One of the most ‘80s celebrations of this partnership has to be the fun video for Cherrelle’s dynamic version of I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On.

Later reaching pop-rock heights with Robert Palmer’s stylized version and ascending to diva-like glories with Mariah Carey’s appreciation of it, many believe that Cherrelle’s upbeat original is the best – or perhaps beast – of the lot.

This sweetly sassy diva, whose second release High Priority was also full of era friendly pop and soul tunes, is still being honored by Tabu (the company who released her recordings) with an official page at https://www.facebook.com/Cherrelleofficial/.

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Peggy Lee

Published January 7, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Peggy Lee

Irreplaceable writer-director George Romero was always adding surprises into his cinematic universes. He added political undertones to his zombie epics, a gay couple to the testosterone driven Knight Riders and…he added a number of Peggy Lee songs to the animal gone wild thriller Monkey Shines.

Wisely, along with such well known standards like That’s All and Ain’t We Got Fun, he utilized a number that Lee herself wrote, the melancholy yet hopeful There’ll Be Another Spring.

Nicely, Lee, who famously wrote many of the numbers for Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, has also had songs that she sang featured in other such genre projects as Exorcist: The Beginning, (the television show) Nightmare Café and the 2005 version of King Kong.

…and if that doesn’t give you fever, I don’t know what will! 

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Fay Ray

Published February 14, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

fay-raySupposedly named after artist William Wegman’s dog, obscure New Wave band Fay Ray’s moniker naturally conjures up images of America’s first queen of scream.

In fact, the spookily effective Love is Strange, featured on their only major label release Contact Me, definitely seems to recount how the theatrically inclined Fay Wray’s Ann Darrow must have felt about her biggest co-star, King Kong!

H-m-m…I guess that’s art influencing art, for those keeping score!

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Triumvirate of Horror: Queen Bee (1955)

Published September 10, 2015 by biggayhorrorfan

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Once upon a time, a former goddess of scream met two future contenders to her throne and they all played, very bitchily, together!

Years after facing down the likes of Leslie Banks in The Most Dangerous Game (1932), Lionel Atwill in Doctor X (1932) and Kong in King Kong (1933), the versatile Fay Wray dealt with her most monstrous adversary of all – Joan Crawford’s malevolent Eva Phillips in 1955’s woman-centric noir Queen Bee. Wray

As the addled, childish Sue McKinnon, Wray strikes an incredibly sympathetic pose here. Years earlier, Crawford’s Phillips stole McKinnon’s beau out from underneath her wedding slippered feet and McKinnon has never been the same. On a visit to the Phillips’ Southern mansion, McKinnon is tenderly awash in false memories, lovingly tended to by Eva’s sister-in-law, Carol Lee, warmly played by Betsy Palmer. But when Eva enters the picture, Wray, expertly, falters as McKinnon, hurriedly, rushes away. It is a powerful sequence and one that sets up the twisted, future paths that Eva will wander down – including driving the increasingly fragile Carol Lee to suicide.

Queen Bee 2Naturally, for horror fans this scene is an exquisite treat. Obviously, Wray, lovingly referred to as the original Scream Queen, and her co-stars had no idea what gothic paths their careers would go down. By the early 60s, Crawford would find her steadiest employment in such thrillers as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Berserk and Strait-Jacket. Palmer, of course, would find joyous infamy as one of the slasher era’s most endearing serial killers, Mrs. Voorhees, in 1980’s seminal Friday the 13th.

Here, though, they are three pros, lovingly, excising all the heightened drama out of the lurid circumstances at hand – terror projects, past and future, be damned.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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