Edgar Wallace

Prolific English writer Edgar Wallace was born 1 April 1875 in Greenwich, London. Wallace’s family had been in show business and his mother worked in the theatre as a stagehand, usherette and bit-part actress until she married in 1867. His father Joseph was a Merchant NavyCaptain. When Mary was eight months pregnant, in January 1868, her husband, Joseph Richards died at sea. After the birth, destitute, Mary took to the stage, assuming the stage name “Polly” Richards. In 1872, Polly met and joined the Marriott family theatre troupe, managed by Mrs. Alice Edgar, her husband Richard Edgar and their three adult children, Grace Edgar, Adeline Edgar and Richard Horatio Edgar. Richard Horatio Edgar and Polly ended up having a “broom cupboard” style sexual encounter during an after-show party. Discovering she was pregnant, she stayed at a Boarding House, because unmarried mothers were frowned upon in those days. Her midwife introduced Polly to her close friend, Mrs Freeman, a mother of ten children, whose husband George Freeman was a Billingsgate fishmonger. Wallace, then known as Richard Horatio Edgar Freeman, had a happy childhood, forming a close bond with 20-year-old Clara Freeman who became a second mother to him. By 1878, Polly could no longer afford the small sum she had been paying the Freemans to care for her son and instead of placing the boy in the workhouse, the Freemans adopted him. His foster-father George Freeman was determined to ensure Richard received a good education and for some time Wallace attended St. Alfege with St. Peter’s, a boarding school in Peckham,however he played truant and left full-time education at 12.

Wallace had held down numerous jobs such as newspaper-seller at Ludgate Circus near Fleet Street, milk-delivery boy, rubber factory worker, shoe shop assistant and ship’s cook. A plaque at Ludgate Circus commemorates Wallace’s first encounter with the newspaper business. He was dismissed from his job on the milk run for stealing money.In 1894, he became engaged to a local Deptford girl, Edith Anstree, but broke the engagement, enlisting in the Infantry. Wallace registered in the army at 21 under the adopted the name Edgar Wallace, taken from the author of Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace. He was posted in South Africa with the West Kent Regiment. in 1896 He transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps, and transferred again to the Press Corps. Between 1898 and 1902 Wallace began publishing songs and poetry, inspired by Rudyard Kipling, whom he met in Cape Town in 1898. Wallace’s first book of ballads, The Mission that Failed! was published that same year. In 1899, he turned to writing full-time and became a war correspondent during the Second Boer War for Reuters and the Daily Mail. In 1901, while in South Africa, Wallace married Ivy Maude Caldecott sadly though Their daughter Eleanor Clare Hellier Wallace died from meningitis in 1903 and they returned to London, deep in debt. Wallace found work at the the Mail in London and began writing thrillers and detective stories in a bid to earn quick money. A son, Bryan, was born in 1904 followed by a daughter, Patricia in 1908. Unable to find a publisher, Wallace set up his own publishing company, Tallis Press, and published the thriller The Four Just Men (1905). Despite promotion in the Mail and good sales, the book was financially mismanaged and Problems were compounded when inaccuracies in Wallace’s reporting led to libel cases being brought against the Mail and Wallace was dismissed in 1907,

In 1907 Edgar travelled to the Congo Free State, to report on atrocities committed against the Congolese under King Leopold II of Belgium and the Belgian rubber companies, in which up to 15 million Congolese were killed. Wallace was invited to serialise stories inspired by his experiences. These were published as his first collection Sanders of the River (1911), which was adapted into a film with the same name, starring Paul Robeson. Wallace went on to publish 11 more similar collections (102 stories). They were tales of exotic adventure and local tribal rites, set on an African river. Between 1908 to 1932 Wallace wrote many more books including detective stories, adventure stories, science fiction and thrillers. The success of his books restored his reputation as a journalist. he then began reporting from horse racing circles. He wrote for the Week-End and the Evening News, becoming an editor for Week-End Racing Supplement and started his own racing papers Bibury’s and R. E. Walton’s Weekly. Unfortunately he lost thousands gambling and Ivy divorced him and moved to Tunbridge Wells with the children Wallace married his secretary Ethel Violet King, the daughter of banker Frederick King, in 1921 and their daughter Penelope Wallace was born in 1923.


Wallace signed with publishers Hodder and Stoughton, and organising his contracts, instead of selling the rights in order to raise funds. This allowed him advances, royalties and full scale promotional campaigns for his books. He became know as the, ‘King of Thrillers’, writing across many genres including science fiction, screen plays, a non-fiction ten-volume history of the First World War. He went on to write over 170 novels, 18 stage plays and 957 short stories. Wallace also served as chairman of the Press Club, which continues to present an annual ‘Edgar Wallace Award’ for excellence in writing. Following the great success of his novel The Ringer, Wallace was appointed chairman of the British Lion Film Corporation. Wallace was the first British crime novelist to use policemen as his protagonists, rather than amateur sleuths as most other writers of the time did. Most of his novels are independent stand-alone stories; he seldom used series heroes. In 1923, Edgar Wallace became the first British radio sports reporter, when he made a report on the Epsom Derby for the British Broadcasting Company. In the 1920’sWallace wrote a controversial article entitled “The Canker In Our Midst” about paedophilia and the show business world. Wallace also joined the Liberal Party and contested Blackpool in the 1931 general election as one of a handful of Independent Liberals, who rejected the National Government, and the official Liberal support for it, and strongly supported free trade.

In 1931 he went to America and wrote the screenplay for the first sound film adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1932) produced by Gainsborough Pictures.Moving to Hollywood, he began working as a “script doctor” for RKO. His play, The Green Pack opened to excellent reviews, boosting his status even further. Wallace wanted to get his own work on Hollywood celluloid, adapting books such as The Four Just Men and Mr J G Reeder. Wallace’s play On the Spot, written about gangster Al Capone, also became a huge success and launched the career of Charles Laughton who played the lead Capone character Tony Perelli. In December 1931, Wallace was assigned work on the RKO “gorilla picture” (King Kong, 1933) for producer Merian C. Cooper. However he started having sudden, severe headaches and was diagnosed with diabetes. Unfortunately His condition deteriorated within days and Edgar slipped into a coma and died of the condition, combined with double pneumonia, on 10 February 1932 in North Maple Drive, Beverly Hills.

Patrick Troughton

Actor Patrick Troughton was born on 25 March 1920 in Mill Hill, Middlesex, England. Troughton attended Mill Hill School and continued to live in Mill Hill for most of his life. While at Mill Hill School, he acted in a production of J.B. Priestley’s Bees on the Boat Deck in March 1937. His brother A.R. (‘Robin’) Troughton shared the 1933 Walter Knox Prize for Chemistry with the future Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick, who also attended Mill Hill School Troughton later attended the Embassy School of Acting[1] at Swiss Cottage, studying under Eileen Thorndike. After his time at the Embassy School of Acting, Troughton won a scholarship to the Leighton Rallius Studios at the John Drew Memorial Theatre on Long Island, New York. In 1939, he joined the Tonbridge Repertory Company.

When the Second World War began, he returned home on a Belgian ship which struck a sea mine and sank off the coast of Great Britain, Troughton escaping in a lifeboat. In 1940, he joined the Royal Navy and was commissioned as a lieutenant with the RNVR, being first employed on East Coast Convoy duty from February to August 1941, and then with Coastal Forces’ Motor Gun Boats based at Great Yarmouth from November 1942 to 1945. During his service with the M.G.B.’s, he was on one occasion involved in an action against Kriegsmarine E-boats which resulted in one of the enemy craft being destroyed by ramming, whilst Troughton’s boat and another destroyed two more with their gunfire. His decorations included the 1939-45 Star, and Atlantic Star, and he was mentioned in dispatches. He used to wear a tea cosy on his head in cold weather in the North Sea.

After the war, Troughton returned to the theatre. He worked with the Amersham Repertory Company, the Bristol Old Vic Company and the Pilgrim Players at the Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate. He made his television debut in 1947. In 1948, Troughton made his cinema debut with small roles in Olivier’s Hamlet, the Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed Escape (one of the stars of which was William Hartnell), and a pirate in Disney’s Treasure Island. In 1953 he became the first actor to play Robin Hood on television, His grandson Sam Troughton played one of Robin’s colleagues in the 2006 BBC TV series of the same name, and Patrick himself made an appearance in The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene. He appeared as the murderer Tyrrell in Olivier’s film of Richard III (1955). He was also Olivier’s understudy on the film and appears in many long shots as Richard.

Troughton’s other notable film and television roles included Kettle in Chance of a Lifetime, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Vickers in the episode entitled “Strange Partners” in The Invisible Man, Phineus in Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop, Paul of Tarsus, Dr. Finlay’s Casebook. He voiced Winston Smith in a 1965 BBC Home Service radio adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four and appeared in numerous TV shows, including The Count of Monte Cristo, Ivanhoe, Dial 999, Danger Man, Maigret, Compact, The Third Man, Crane, Detective, Sherlock Holmes, No Hiding Place, The Saint, Armchair Theatre, The Wednesday Play, Z-Cars, Adam Adamant Lives! and Softly, Softly. Troughton was offered the part of Johnny Ringo in the Doctor Who story The Gunfighters but turned it down.

In 1966, Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd looked for a replacement for William Hartnell in the series’ lead role. Lloyd chose Troughton because of his extensive and versatile experience as a character actor. After he was cast, Troughton considered portraying the Doctor as a “tough sea captain”or a piratical figure in blackface and turban before Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman suggested that the Doctor could be a “cosmic hobo” in the mould of Charlie Chaplin. In the story The Enemy of the World, Troughton played two parts – as the protagonist (The Doctor) and the antagonist (Salamander).

Troughton gave away the secret of what Jamie (Frazer Hines) wore underneath his kilt – “khaki shorts”. Troughton was popular with both the production team and his co-stars. Producer Lloyd credited Troughton with a “leading actor’s temperament. He was a father figure to the whole company and hence could embrace it and sweep it along with him”. Troughton also gained a reputation on set as a practical joker. Unfortunately Many of the early episodes in which Troughton appeared were among those discarded by the BBC however some missing episodes have been replaced by animation- such as The Invasion.

Troughton found Doctor Who’s schedule gruelling, and was afraid of being typecast so he decided to leave in 1969, after three years in the role. However he returned to Doctor Who three times after formally leaving the programme, firstly in The Three Doctors, then For the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors in 1983 following the request by producer John Nathan-Turner and finally in The Two Doctors alongside sixth Doctor Colin Baker. He also attended many Doctor Who conventions including the show’s 20th anniversary celebrations at Longleat in 1983. In 2013, the BBC commissioned a docudrama about the early days of Doctor Who, as part of the programme’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Troughton appears as a character in the production, called An Adventure in Space and Time, portrayed by actor Reece Shearsmith. In 2014’s “Robot of Sherwood”, a still image of Troughton from 1953 appears among the future depictions of Robin Hood displayed by the Twelfth Doctor to the outlaw.

After Troughton left Doctor Who in 1969, he appeared in various films and television roles. Film roles included Clove in Scars of Dracula, a bodysnatcher in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Father Brennan in The Omen and Melanthius in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Television roles included the recurring role of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk in five of the six episodes of The Six Wives of Henry VIII, the villainous Nasca in The Feathered Serpent. He also appeared in The Goodies, Paul Temple, Dr. Finlay’s Casebook, Doomwatch, The Persuaders!, A Family at War, Coronation Street, Softly, Softly: Taskforce, Colditz, Play for Today, Z-Cars, Special Branch, Sutherland’s Law, The Sweeney, Jason King, Survivors, Crown Court, Angels, Warship, Van der Valk, Space: 1999, The Onedin Line, All Creatures Great and Small, Only When I Laugh, Nanny and Minder The Box of Delights and the Two Ronnies” Christmas Special. He featured in the 1974 radio adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour. He also appeared In in 1986, sitcom The Two of Us alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst and guested in an episode of Super Gran. Troughton also appeared in the first episode of Inspector Morse “The Dead of Jericho”. His final television appearance was in Knights of God,

Troughton’s health was never entirely robust and later in his life he refused to accept his doctor’s advice that he had developed a serious heart condition through overwork and stress. He suffered two major heart attacks, in 1979 and 1984. Then On 27 March 1987, two days after his 67th birthday, Troughton was a guest at the Magnum Opus Con II science fiction convention in Columbus, Georgia, USA. Although he had been warned by his doctors before leaving the UK not to exert himself because of his heart condition, Troughton appeared to be in good spirits and participated vigorously in the day’s panels,and was looking forward to a belated birthday celebration, as well as screenings of all of his surviving complete Doctor Who stories, including The Dominators, which Troughton was particularly eager to see again. Sadly Troughton suffered a third and final heart attack and was certified dead at the Midwest Medical Centre in downtown Columbus. From the Medical Centre he was transferred to the Striffler-Hamby Mortuary & Funeral Home on Macon Road, which is about 4.8 miles away. After resting there he was then transferred to the Southern Cremations Services, at Dothan in Alabama (about 119 miles away). His ashes were then shipped back to the UK . In true ‘Doctor Who mystery’ style, Patrick’s ashes got mislaid on the transit home, delaying his funeral by a few weeks. They finally made it home with little time to spare. Having found his ashes His second wife, Sheila, scattered his ashes beneath a newly planted tree in his favourite Bushy Park in Teddington, London.

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Prolific Adventure & Science Fiction Novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs sadly passed away on March 19, 1950 after suffering a Heart Attack. He wrote almost seventy novels during his career and created many popular enduring characters but he is perhaps best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter.

Edgar Rice Burroughs was born on September 1, 1875, in Chicago, Illinois (he later lived for many years in the suburb of Oak Park). he was educated at a number of local schools, and during the Chicago influenza epidemic in 1891, he spent a half year at his brother’s ranch on the Raft River in Idaho. He then attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and then the Michigan Military Academy. Graduating in 1895, and failing the entrance exam for the United States Military Academy (West Point), he ended up as an enlisted soldier with the 7th U.S. Cavalry in Fort Grant, Arizona Territory. After being diagnosed with a heart problem and thus ineligible to serve, he was discharged in 1897. Some drifting and ranch work followed in Idaho.

In 1899, Burroughs found work at his father’s firm and married childhood sweetheart Emma Hulbert (1876-1944) in January 1900. In 1904 he left his job and found less regular work; some in Idaho, later in Chicago.By 1911, after seven years of low wages, he was working as a pencil sharpener wholesaler and began to write fiction. By this time, Burroughs and Emma had two children, Joan (1908–72), who would later marry Tarzan film actor James Pierce, and Hulbert (1909–91).During this period, he had copious spare time and he began reading many pulp fiction magazines. In 1929 he recalled thinking that …if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I Read in those magazines.

So he wrote The exciting science-fiction exploits of Barsoom which debuted in 1912 and featured a Confederate American Civil War veteren from Virginia named John Carter, who inexplicably finds himself transported to the planet Mars and discovers that far from being dead, Mars, which is known as “Barsoom” by the locals) is actually inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians called Tharks, Intelligent & scientifically minded red skinned people from the neighbouring City of Helium, villainous Warlords, Pirates, Giant White Apes and vicious thugs named Warhoons. Carter discovers that the land is in turmoil and the various inhabitants are at war with each other over th planets dwindling resources and the situation is being manipulated by shadowy forces. So he undertakes a perilous journey across Barsoom, encountering many dangers along the way, in order to unite the population against a common enemy and fairly soon he finds himself in the midst of all-out war between the forces of civilization on Mars and those of destruction and the outcome will determine the fate of everyone on Barsoom.

Burroughs also produced works in many other genres including The Land That Time Forgot (1918),and had his first story, “Under the Moons of Mars”, serialized in All-Story Magazine in 1912. Burroughs soon took up writing full-time and by the time the run of Under the Moons of Mars had finished he had completed two novels, including Tarzan of the Apes, which was published from October 1912 and which went on to become one of his most successful series. Burroughs also wrote popular science fiction and fantasy stories involving Earthly adventurers transported to various planets (notably Barsoom, Burroughs’ fictional name for Mars, and Amtor, his fictional name for Venus), lost islands, and into the interior of the hollow earth in his Pellucidar stories, as well as westerns and historical romances. Along with All-Story, many of his stories were published in The Argosy. Many of his novels have also been adapted from film including Tarzan of the Apes, Land that time Forgot and John Carter (which was made by Disney but did not do as well as I thought it would for some reason, I still think it is possible to do an Epic Barsoom series of films

Thanks to the enduring popularity of the Barsoom and Tarzan series of novels Burroughs set up his own company, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc In 1923 and began printing his own books throughout the 1930s.Then In 1941 At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Burroughs was a resident of Hawaii and, despite being in his late sixties, he applied for permission to become a war correspondent. This permission was granted, and so he became one of the oldest war correspondents for the U.S. during World War II. After the war ended, Burroughs moved back to Encino, California, where, after many health problems, he died of a heart attack on March 19, 1950, having written almost 80 novels.

Sir Terry Pratchett

Popular English novelist Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, Sadly passed away on 12 March 2015 at the age of 66 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. Born 28th April in 1948. He is best known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre In particular the popular and long-running Discworld series of comic fantasy novels. Pratchett’s first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971, and his first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic was published in 1983. Since then he has been very prolific, writing on average, two books a year . After finishing the fourth Discworld novel, Mort, he decided to focus fully on hs novels and make his living through writing and published his fifth book Equal Rites soon after. Since then He has written many other discworld Novels including, Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Monsterous Regiment, Hogfather, Small Gods, Soul Music, Interesting Times, The Truth, The Fifth Elephant, Maurice & his Educated Rodents, Carpe Jugulum, Hatful of Sky, Wee Free Men, Making Money, Wintersmith, Thud!, Night Watch, Unseen Academicals, I shall Wear Midnight, Raising Steam, Dodger, Snuff and The Shepherds Crown. He has also collaborated with many other authors including Neil Gaiman on Good Omens and Small Gods and Stephen Baxter on Long Earth, Long Mars and Long Cosmos. The Discworld novels all had distinctive cover art by Josh Kirby and Since Kirby sadly passed away in October 2001, the covers have been designed by Paul Kidby.

Many of Pratchett’s books have also been adapted for Radio and Television, the BBC’s Woman’s Hour broadcast The Colour of Magic as a serial in six parts and Truckers was adapted as a stop motion animation series for Thames Television by Cosgrove Hall Films in 1992. Johnny and the Dead was also made into a TV serial for Children’s ITV on ITV, and in 1995. Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music were adapted as animated cartoon series by Cosgrove Hall for Channel 4 in 1996. In January 2006, BBC One also aired a three-part adaptation of Johnny and the Bomb. A two-part, feature-length version of Hogfather starring Michelle Dockery, David Jason and featuring the voices of Christopher Lee and Ian Richardson, was first aired on Sky One in the United Kingdom in December 2006, and on ION Television in the U.S. in 2007. A two-part, feature-length adaptation of The Colour of Magic and its sequel The Light Fantastic aired during Easter 2008 on Sky One. A third adaptation, Going Postal was aired at the end of May 2010. The Sky adaptations also feature the author in cameo roles. A BBC Program entitled Back in Black, featuring Paul Kaye as Terry Pratchett, also aired in 2017. A television adaptation of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant is also being made.

He remains a hugely popular author to this day and many of his books have occupied top places on the best-seller list. According to the Bookseller’s Pocket Yearbook from 2005, in 2003 Pratchett’s UK sales put him in 2nd place behind J. K. Rowling and in the paperback sales list Pratchett came 5th, behind James Patterson, Alexander McCall Smith, John Grisham and J. R. R. Tolkien). His sales in the UK alone are more than 2.5 million copies a year. In 1998 Pratchett was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to literature” he was also knighted in the 2009 New Year Honours. In 2001 he won the Carnegie Medal for his children’s novel The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. In December 2007, Pratchett publicly announced that he was suffering from posterior cortical atrophy, a variation of Alzheimer’s disease and, subsequently, made a substantial public donation to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust. He also filmed a programme chronicling his experiences with the disease for the BBC and His last novel “The Shepherd’s Crown” was published posthumously in 2015.

International Games Masters Day

International Games Master’s Day takes place anuually on 4 March. GM’s Day was born on EN World in December 2002. Originally a simple messageboard post by EN World member Spunkrat (later renamed Heathen72), the idea quickly gained popularity, championed by Mark Clover of Creative Mountain Games and, of course, EN World itself.

GM’s Day is an annual day to show your GAmes Master, DUngeon Master, Storyteller, or Referee) how much you appreciate them. Publishers and retail outlets across the world now join in GM’s Day, offering discounts, sales, and other cool stuff. From a single messageboard thread, GM’s Day now includes hundreds of publishers, websites, bloggers, such as RPGNow/DriveThruRPG’s who host a massive GM’s Day sale. Marth 4th is also the anniversary of the sad passing of Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax who sadly died 4 March 2008.

Toy Soldier Day

The name of Toy Soldier Day is a bit deceiving. Rather than collecting or displaying plastic toys or replicas, Toy Soldier Day is actually intended to unite fans of various role-playing activities. Toy Soldier Day was orignally started as a fan club by The Army of Toy Soldiers to give recognition to talented street performer, including musicians and the internet personality Dr. Steel who started his career in 1999 in Los Angeles, Putting on shows combining puppetry and video projections to help his audience better understnd the meanings of his steampunk songs. countless fans of stage persona Dr. Steel celebrate Toy Soldier Day annually Including nurses, scouts and soldiers) one of the primary goals of Toy Soldier Day is to collaborate, compare and share costume ideas.

More International, National events and Holidays happepning on 4 March

International Scrapbooking Industry Day
March Forth Day
National Day of Unplugging
National Grammar Day
National Poundcake Day
National Snack Day
Old Inauguration Day

The original classic American monster movie King Kong opened 2 March 1933. It is Based on the novel by Edgar Wallace and stars Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and Robert Armstrong, and has been ranked as the greatest horror film of all time. King Kong is especially noted for its stop-motion animation by Willis O’Brien and a groundbreaking musical score by Max Steiner. In 1991 it was deemed “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. It has been remade twice: in 1976 and in 2005 by Peter Jackson and a sequel Skull Island Was released in 2017.

The film features renowned wildlife film-maker, Carl Denham, chartering Captain Englehorn’s ship Venture for his new project, however he cannot find an actress for a female role he reluctantly added. Denham searches the streets of New York for a suitable woman. Then He meets penniless Ann Darrow and convinces her to join him for the adventure of a lifetime. The Venture quickly gets underway. The surly first mate, Jack Driscoll, gradually falls in love with Ann. After weeks of secrecy, Denham finally tells Englehorn and Driscoll that their destination is Skull Island, an uncharted island shown on a map in Denham’s possession. Denham speaks of something monstrous there, a legendary entity known only as “Kong”.

When they find the island and anchor off its shore, they can see a native village, separated from the rest of the island by an enormous stone wall. A landing party, including the filming crew and Ann, witnesses a group of natives about to sacrifice a young maiden as the “bride of Kong”. The intruders are spotted and the native chief offers to trade six of his women for Ann. The crew refuse and return to the Venture. However later that night, a band of natives secretly kidnap Ann from the ship and sacrifice her to Kong during a ceremony.

The crew of the Venture realise Ann is missing and set off in pursuit encountering the angry natives and many prehistoric hazards including a Stegosaurus and a Brontosaurus Before eventually finding Kong, who tries to stop them from crossing a ravine by shaking them off a fallen tree leaving only Driscoll and Denham, alive. Then A Tyrannosaurus attacks Ann, but is confronted by an angry Kong who is becoming increasingly protective and has started to develop feelings for Ann. Then Upon arriving in Kong’s lair in a mountain cave, Ann is nearly killed by a snake-like Elasmosaurus, then a Pteranodon tries to fly away with Ann. Driscoll finally reaches Ann and tries to rescue her. However this enrages Kong who pursues them through the jungle back to the natives village where Denham, Englehorn and the surviving crewmen are waiting. However this does not stop Kong, who then breaks open the gate and rampages through the village.

Denham suddenly realises that making a film about Kong could make him a fortune, so despite everyone else’s serious misgivings Denham, then decides to bring Kong back alive to New York and present him to Broadway theater audiences as “Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World”. However Once back in New York Kong Understandably decides he doesn’t particularly like Captivitity and decides to break loose causing absolute Carnage as he rampages through the city in pursuit of Annie Darrow. Then While looking for a place of safety, he decides to climb the Empire State Building however this has tragic results

Willis O’Brien

American motion picture special effects and stop-motion animation pioneer, Willis O’Brien was born in Oakland, California on March 2, 1886. When he was eleven he left home to work on cattle ranches, and at thirteen he took on a variety of jobs including farmhand, factory worker, fur trapper, cowboy, and bartender. He also competed in rodeos and developed an interest in dinosaurs while working as a guide to palaeontologists in Crater Lake region. He spent his spare time sculpting and illustrating and his natural talent led to him being employed first as draftsman in an architect’s office and then as a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Daily News. During this time he also became a professional boxer, winning his first nine bouts but retiring after an unsuccessful tenth. He subsequently worked for the railroad, first as a brakeman and later a surveyor, as a professional marble sculptor, and was assistant to the head architect of the 1915 San Francisco World’s Fair, where some of his work was displayed. He also made models, including a dinosaur and a caveman, which he animated with the assistance of a local newsreel cameraman. San Francisco exhibitor Herman Wobber saw this 90-second test footage and commissioned O’Brien to make his first film, The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy.

Willis O’Brien was subsequently hired by the Edison Company to animate a series of short films with a prehistoric theme, these included R.F.D. 10,000 B.C. and Prehistoric Poultry. He also worked on Sam Loyd’s The Puzzling Billboard and Nippy’s Nightmare which were the first stop-motion films to combine live actors with stop motion models. These films led to a commission from Herbert M. Dawley to write, direct, co-star and produce the effects for another dinosaur film, The Ghost of Slumber Mountain. However Herbert Dawley claimed credit for O’Brien’s pioneering effects work, which combined realistic stop-motion animated prehistoric models with live action. Dawley used the cut effects footage in a sequel Along the Moonbeam Trail (1920) and the documentary Evolution (1923), but again O’Brien received little financial reimbursement from this success.

Willis O’Brien then worked on Harry O. Hoyt’s The Lost World. For his early, short films O’Brien created his own characters out of clay, although for much of his feature career he employed Richard and Marcel Delgado to create much more detailed stop-motion models (based on O’Brien’s designs) with rubber skin built up over complex, articulated metal armatures. The models contained a bladder inside the skeleton model that could be inflated and deflated to give the illusion of breathing. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, showed a reel of O’Brien’s animation from the film to his friends, claiming it was real footage of living dinosaurs And try to convince them that his story was based on fact.

O’Brien also worked with Hoyt on a number of other projects included Atlantis, Frankenstein, and Creation. However The studio’s head of production, Merian C. Cooper, cancelled O’Brien’s projects, although he was impressed by the effects work and saw great potential in O’brien’s Giant gorilla and dinosaur models which were later used for the film King Kong. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) awarded O’Brien an Oscar for his technical effects on King Kong but Willis insisted that each of his crew receive an Oscar statue also, which the AMPAS refused to do, so O’Brien refused to accept the Oscar award for himself. However This act of refusing his Oscar hurt O’Brien’s reputation in the Hollywood establishment, forever making him a semi-“outsider” in the industry. The success of King Kong led to the studio commissioning a hurried sequel Son of Kong (also 1933), which O’Brien described as cheesy. With a limited budget and a short production schedule O’Brien chose to leave the animation work to his animation assistant, Buzz Gibson, and asked the studio not to credit him on the project.

In 1925 O’Brien married Hazel Ruth Collette and had two Sons However O’Brien was reportedly forced into and rebelled against with drinking, gambling, and extra-marital affairs. The couple divorced by 1930 and the two boys remained with their mother. Sadly By 1931 Hazel had been diagnosed with cancer and tuberculosis, then O’brien son William also contracted tuberculosis resulting in blindness in one eye and then the other. O’Brien, remained close to his two sons after his separation from his estranged wife, invited Willis Jr. and the now completely blind William with him to handle the Kong and dinosaur models. A few weeks after this visit O’Brien’s ex-wife, Hazel Ruth Collette, shot and killed William and Willis Jr. before turning the gun on herself. The suicide attempt failed and by draining her tubercular lung actually extended her life by another year. A publicity photo of O’Brien taken around this time shows the anguish on his face. Hazel Ruth Collette remained in the Los Angeles General Hospital prison ward until her death in 1934. On November 17 that same year O’Brien married his second wife Darlyne Prenett with whom he would remain until his death.

O’Brien continued to work with Merian C. Cooper at RKO on a number of projects including the epic The Last Days of Pompeii, Dancing Pirate and War Eagles which features a race of Vikings riding on prehistoric eagles fighting with dinosaurs. However this project was cancelled when Cooper re-enlisted as a colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces at the outset of World War II. O’Brien went on to do some special effects work, re-using one of the mattes from Son of Kong, on Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941) and George Pal’s Oscar-nominated animated short Tulips Shall Grow (1942), as well as developing his own project, Gwangi, about cowboys who encounter a prehistoric animal in a “lost” valley,

O’Brien then worked as Technical Creator, on The film Mighty Joe Young (1949), which won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1950. O’Brien was assisted by his protege (and successor), Ray Harryhausen and Pete Peterson on this film. O’Brien and his wife then unsuccessfully developed Emilio and Guloso (aka, Valley of the Mist), about a Mexican boy and his pet bull who save their town from a dinosaur called “Lagarto Grande”. O’Brien then went to work at the new Cinerama corporation on a remake of King Kong using the new wide-screen techniques but ended up contributing a matte for the travelogue This Is Cinerama (1952) when this project also fell through. O’Brien also worked with Harryhausen on the acclaimed dinosaur sequence for Irwin Allen’s nature documentary The Animal World. O’Brien’s story ideas for Gwangi and Valley of the Mist were developed into Edward Nassour and Ismael Rodríguez’s The Beast of Hollow Mountain, for which O’Brien wrote the script. This combined stop-motion and live-action in a color film. O’Brien also worked with Peterson again on The Black Scorpion (1957) and Behemoth, the Sea Monster (aka “The Giant Behemoth”). Irwin Allen hired O’Brien as the effects technician on his remake of The Lost World, but he was given little to do as the producer opted for live lizards instead of stop-motion animation for the dinosaurs. One of his story ideas King Kong vs. Frankenstein was developed into Ishirō Honda’s King Kong vs. Godzilla but O’Brien was once again not involved in the production. Shortly before his death, he animated a brief scene for Linwood G. Dunn’s “Film Effects of Hollywood” company in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World featuring some characters dangling from a fire escape and ladder.

O’Brien died in Los Angeles on November 8, 1962. He was survived by his second wife, Darlyne. In 1997, he was posthumously awarded the Winsor McCay Award by ASIFA-Hollywood, the United States chapter of the International Animated Film Society ASIFA (Association internationale du film d’animation). The award is in recognition of lifetime or career contributions to the art of animation. His interment was located at Chapel of the Pines Crematory.

The 1969 film The Valley of Gwangi, was completed by Ray Harryhausen seven years after O’Brien’s death. O’Brien’s work was celebrated in March 1983 with the appearance of his wife, Darlene at a 50th anniversary event commemorating the day of the first screening of the film at Graumann’s (later Mann’s) Chinese theater on Hollywood Blvd, complete with a screening of a new print of King Kong and a new recreation of the full-scale bust of Kong that appeared 50 years apart at both events in the outdoor lobby of the theater. Ray Harryhausen also continued to keep the memory of O’Brien films and life alive for fantasy-cinema fans around the world until his death in 2013.