In 1928, director Erich von Stroheim cast Wray as the main female lead in his troubled production of The Wedding March, which sent Hollywood in a buzz for its high budget and production values. It was a financial failure, but it gave Wray her first lead role.
She is best remembered for her role as Ann Darrow, the blonde seductress of the gigantic gorilla in the classic horror/adventure film King Kong (1933). She wore a blonde wig over her naturally dark hair for the role.
She continued in films but by the early 1940s her appearances grew sporadic. She appeared frequently on television making her final appearance in 1980.
Her autobiography, On the Other Hand, was published in 1988.
In the later years of her life, Wray continued to make public appearances, and was a guest at the 70th Academy Awards, where the show's host, Billy Crystal introduced her and paid tribute to her film legacy.
Wray was approached to appear in a small cameo for the 2005 remake of King Kong, and also met with Naomi Watts who was to play the Ann Darrow role. Before filming commenced, however, Wray died in her sleep on August 8, 2004, in her Manhattan apartment of natural causes (writers of the remake did honor her, however, with a comical mention in that film). She was 96 years old, only 38 days short of her 97th birthday. Wray was interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. After her death was announced the lights on the Empire State Building were extinguished for 15 minutes in her memory.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Fay Wray has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6349 Hollywood Blvd. She received a posthumous star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto on June 5, 2005. A small park near Lee's Creek on Main Street in Cardston, Alberta, is named "Fay Wray Park" in her honor. The small sign at the edge of the park on Main Street has a silhouette of King Kong on it. In May 2006, Wray became one of the first four entertainers to ever be honored by Canada Post by being featured on a postage stamp.
She had three children: Susan Saunders, Victoria Riskin, and Robert Riskin Jr.
She became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1935.
Fay Wray was an icon ambition held by The Rocky Horror Picture Shows Frank n Furter which he hoped to achieve by emulating her satin draped frame.