King Kong remake debuts - HISTORY
Year
2005

King Kong remake debuts

On this day in 2005, King Kong, a remake of the classic 1933 film of the same name about a fictional giant ape who climbs New York City’s Empire State Building, opens in theaters.

The original King Kong, starring Fay Wray as the great ape’s love interest, as well as Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot, turned the larger-than-life gorilla into one of Hollywood’s most enduring icons. The 1933 film, which contains the now-famous line, “It was beauty killed the beast,” earned particular notice for its pioneering special effects. The film spawned a series of sequels, including Son of King Kong (1933), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), King Kong Escapes (1967) and King Kong Lives (1987).

Born on September 15, 1907, in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, the actress Fay Wray appeared in some 90 movies during her career, but was best known for her role as Ann Darrow, an out-of-work actress who travels to Skull Island, where King Kong falls in love with her. When the giant ape is later captured and taken to New York City, he snatches Wray and climbs up the Empire State Building. Wray was reportedly asked to make a cameo in 2005’s King Kong; before that could happen, however, she died at the age of 96 on August 8, 2004.

In 1976, the producer Dino DeLaurentis released an updated, Oscar-nominated version of King Kong, featuring Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin. Lange, born on April 20, 1949, in Cloquet, Minnesota, made her big-screen debut as Dwan, an updated version of Ann Darrow, and was panned for her performance by some critics. Lange shook off the criticism and went on to appear in such well-received films as 1979’s All That Jazz and 1981’s The Postman Always Rings Twice with Jack Nicholson; she earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for 1982’s Frances. Lange won another Oscar for her supporting role in 1983’s Tootsie, with Dustin Hoffman. More Best Actress nominations followed, for 1984’s Country, 1985’s Sweet Dreams and 1989’s Music Box. She took home her first Best Actress Oscar for 1994’s Blue Sky, co-starring Tommy Lee Jones.

Directed by Peter Jackson (the filmmaker behind the multiple Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy), the 2005 King Kong remake starred Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody and Jack Black. The film was a box-office success and won three Academy Awards, for Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. Watts, who played Ann Darrow, was born September 28, 1968, in Shoreham, England, and raised in Australia. She gained notice in Hollywood with David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001) and the 2002 hit horror film The Ring. Among Watts’ other credits are 21 Grams (2003), with Sean Penn, for which she received a Best Actress Oscar nomination; The Painted Veil (2006), with Edward Norton; and Eastern Promises (2007), with Viggo Mortensen.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The birth of quantum theory

German physicist Max Planck publishes his groundbreaking study of the effect of radiation on a “blackbody” substance, and the quantum theory of modern physics is born.Through physical experiments, Planck demonstrated that energy, in certain situations, can exhibit characteristics ...read more

George Washington dies

George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old.George Washington was born in 1732 to a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His first ...read more

Indy “Brickyard” is completed

On this day in 1909, workers place the last of the 3.2 million 10-pound bricks that pave the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana (a town surrounded by the city of Indianapolis). Since then, most of that brick has been buried under asphalt, but one yard remains ...read more

Amundsen reaches South Pole

Norwegian Roald Amundsen becomes the first explorer to reach the South Pole, beating his British rival, Robert Falcon Scott.Amundsen, born in Borge, near Oslo, in 1872, was one of the great figures in polar exploration. In 1897, he was first mate on a Belgian expedition that was ...read more

Operation Barrel Roll begins

In Laos, Operation Barrel Roll, the name given to the first phase of the bombing plan approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson on December 1, begins with U.S. planes attacking “targets of opportunity” in northern Laos.This operation was initiated in response to a Pathet Lao ...read more

Stan Smith is born

On this day in 1946, the American tennis champion Stan Smith is born in Pasadena, California. A three-time All-American at the University of Southern California (USC), Smith captured the NCAA singles title in 1968 and the doubles title in 1967 and 1968. With his USC doubles ...read more

George Washington dies at Mount Vernon

A major landholder and promoter of western settlement, George Washington dies on this day in 1799 at his Mount Vernon home along the banks of the Potomac.From an early age, the future first president of the United States had a passionate interest in the vast unsettled territories ...read more

Aphra Behn is baptized

On this day in 1640, Aphra Behn is baptized at Harbledown, near Canterbury, England. A successful playwright and novelist, Behn has been called the first Englishwoman to make her living as a writer.Behn’s origins are unclear, but historians believe she was probably the daughter ...read more

Blizzard ravages Navajo reservation

On this day in 1967, record snow continues to fall in New Mexico in a blizzard that eventually kills 51 people. In December of that year, snow fell almost constantly in the northern part of the state for two weeks, piling up to five feet in some areas.Particularly hard hit by the ...read more

An unsatisfactory end to a kidnapping

A botched burglary attempt further clouds one of the earliest kidnap-for-ransom cases. As he was about to go to bed, wealthy New Yorker Holmes Van Brunt heard burglars breaking into his brother’s house next door. After rounding up three other men to help him surprise the ...read more

Lincoln pardons his sister-in-law

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announces a grant of amnesty forEmilie Todd Helm, his wife Mary Lincoln’s half sister and the widow of a Confederate general. The pardon was one of the first under Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which he had ...read more

USSR expelled from the League of Nations

On this day, the League of Nations, the international peacekeeping organization formed at the end of World War I, expels the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in response to the Soviets’ invasion of Finland on October 30.Although the League of Nations was more or less the ...read more