Sunday, September 16, 2007

FAY WRAY'S 100TH BIRTHDAY AND A BIRTHDAY FOR ROBERT BENCHLEY

"The Reluctant Dragon" released in 1941 was the only motion picture to feature Walt Disney himself. In it, the great Robert Benchley is given a tour of the then new Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. What a hoot!


Robert Benchley at an NBC radio broadcast in 1940. Robert was the father of famous children's writer Nathaniel Benchley and the grandfather of Peter Benchley, the author of JAWS.

Perhaps only a true Hollywood fan like I am would ever enter a blog entry like this but I am that Hollywood affectionado of all time. Today would have been the 100th birthday of a true Hollywood legend: Miss Fay Wray: the girl who answered the question: What could you possibly give a four hundred pound gorilla that he'd appreciate. Who doesn't remember King Kong's FAMOUS climb of the Empire State Building with the character of Jean Darrow clutched in his mighty hands? It was the role of a lifetime-- "one for the angels-- as I like to say. Fay was going to play a cameo in the latest version of King Kong released just a few years ago, but she died in her sleep the night before she was going to film her scene. In honor of her demise, the lights of the Empire State Building were extinguished for fifteen minutes in her honor. Fay probably did more promotion of that New York landmark that anything else in the world. It is also the birthday of the great humorist and comedian, Robert Benchley. Benchley was simply an amazing guy: a great writer , humorist and one hell of a funny actor. Even Walt Disney knew this when he hired Robert to star in "The Reluctant Dragon" --one of my all time favorite Disney films. Ward Kimball, Pinto Colvig, Clarence Nash (the voice of Donald Duck) and even the very young Alan Ladd star in this picture. Casting efforts continue for Seven. John and I are receiving some incredible resumes from some really talented young people: some with singing ranges of three and four octaves-- the Internet is where we receive most of these replies and their singing voice is right there to hear. I also entered for myself and Tim Doran The Edward Kleban Award Contest under the librettist category. They have a lyric contest as well, but you can only win in one category-- so with time constraints, I felt it was better to focus where there might be less competition. Many more people attempt to write lyrics then attempt the book of a Broadway type musical. My 60th birthday approaches quickly-- it does seem very strange. Well more later!

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