Vina Fay Wray was born on 15 September 1907 in Alberta, Canada. Her family moved to Arizona when she was 3, and then to Salt Lake City when she was 5. Surviving childhood hardships such as the influenza epidemic of 1918 (during which she lost a sister), Fay left for Los Angeles and started appearing in some films.
Before she was 19 she appeared in a number of films, mainly westerns, under contract with Universal for $75 a week. She was nominated to be WAMPAS (Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers) Baby Star of 1926 along with other young actresses like Mary Astor, Joan Crawford, Dolores Costello, Marceline Day, Dolores Del Rio, and Janet Gaynor. In 1928 she rose to instant stardom after starring in Erich von Stroheim's "The Wedding March". She went on to play leads in many films through the early 40s. She is best known for portraying the frightened girl carried to the top of the Empire State Building in "King Kong" (1933).
From the mid 30s, she appeared mostly in low-budget action features. From 1928-39 she was married to playwright John Monk Saunders. In 1942 she married screenwriter Robert Riskin and retired from films; after Riskin's death she returned to films in 1953, going on to appear in a number of character roles throughout the next five years. Wray has written numerous plays and stories, including "The Meadowlark", and authored an autobiography, "On the Other Hand", in 1989.
Update (2004-08-10): Fay Wray passed away on Sunday, August 8th, at the age of 96.