For generations, Canadian actors have followed the road to fame and fortune in Hollywood. Canada Post is honouring their accomplishments in film and television with a set of four domestic rate (51¢) stamps featuring memorable Canadian actors who became stars. The first of these extraordinary stamps celebrates the life and achievements of Fay Wray.
"Today, some of the biggest stars in Hollywood are Canadians, but actors such as Fay Wray blazed the trail for other talented individuals," says Danielle Trottier, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. "Canadians have had a tremendous creative influence in film and television, and these stamps recognize their success as part of our heritage."
Canadian Walk of Fame inductee Fay Wray is pictured against a scene from the movie that defined her career - the landmark 1933 film King Kong. Wray was born in Cardston, Alberta, in 1907, and moved to the United States with her family when she was a child.
According to Wray's daughter Victoria Riskin, her mother "always felt this love of the majesty of the country she was born in. She had very vivid memories - even though she left when she was very young - of events that took place when she was living outside of Cardston."
Wray began acting in her teen years, and eventually appeared in more than 70 films, alongside famous leading men such as Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy. But her most famous co-star was the enormous ape King Kong, pictured on the stamp atop New York's Empire State Building. Wray's character famously screams in terror as she struggles in his giant fist, an iconic scene that inspired countless horror and disaster movies.
For designers John Belisle and Kosta Tsetsekas of Vancouver's Signals Design, the challenge was to -create a consistent style for four stamps that would encompass four very different actors and screen eras.
"We selected images for each individual, but the quality of the photographs varied too much to -reproduce them," says Tsetsekas. Custom portraits appeared to be the ideal solution. Montréal illustrator Neal Armstrong was invited to paint likenesses of Fay Wray - and the yet-to-be-announced other three actors - against backgrounds that capture the character of both the individuals and their era. Wray's image, for example, has a bold, 1930s look reminiscent of Hollywood's silver-screen days.
The design techniques have yielded masterful results for each star's likeness, capturing each indi-vidual's true essence. Viewed together as a series, "they have a unified look, with a real soft-focus charm," says Tsetsekas.
For film and television buffs, and for the many viewers who grew up watching these stars on large screens and small, there's no question that these stamps will be valued collectibles. The big question is, "What famous Canadians in Hollywood will grace the remaining three stamps in the series?"
For more information about this set, including prepaid postcards and booklet cover images, look for a special Details Extra to come your way in May.
For more information about Fay Wray, visit http://www.canadaswalkoffame.com/inductees/2005/05_fay_wray.xml.htm.