The Celebrated Thanksgiving Ape

Lot464 King Kong

Intro by James H. Burns: For a generation of New Yorkers and indeed, folks all around the country, Thanksgiving became not just about family and friends, and the Macy’s parade (and football!), and early dreams of mistletoe, but a journey alongside Carl Denham, and Ann Darrow, and Captain Englehorn, through what remains one of the finest celluloid fantasies….!

(Besides, it’s also a chance to remember, again, my good friend, Chris Steinbrunner, who helped program that Thanksgiving wonderment, and was responsible for all so much else in the worlds of imagination!)

A Trilogy of Kong by Mike Glyer: James H. Burns’ trilogy of fine articles at The Thunder Child recalls the era when a New York City TV station persuaded whole families to park in front of the set on Thanksgiving and watch King Kong for the zillionth time.

King Kong in the City: A Thanksgiving Tradition: Burns tells about his father’s affinity for the famous ape movie, and his personal memory of discovering the film on Saturday morning TV in the Sixties. The station was New York’s channel 9 (the former WOR-TV) and in the next decade it broadcast the movie every Thanksgiving, before long adding the sequel, Son of Kong, and 1949’s Mighty Joe Young, another stop-motion animation picture from Kong’s creators. The annual tradition lasted until 1985.

Chris Steinbrunner: A Renaissance of Fantasy: Chris Steinbrunner, an executive with WOR-TV, is according to Burns “one of the great unsung heroes of fandom, who helped run many of his era’s conventions, was an Edgar-award winning author, wrote one of the very first books on science fiction and fantasy movies, published many books (with Centaur Press)… and produced what may well be a lost 007 special!…”  Burns says, “My old pal was a pretty neat guy, and a while ago, I was stunned that save for a short Wikipedia entry, there was virtually none of Chris’ history on the web.” Articles like this surely will keep him from being forgotten.

One of the great times Chris and I were together came early one morning in 1983 when we ran into each other high atop the Empire State Building, gathered on the Observation Deck for a special press party commemorating King Kong’s fiftieth anniversary. With the men in suits and the ladies elegantly attired, champagne was poured as we looked towards the bi-planes in the distance, booked especially for the event, that buzzed as though in a dream, above the shores of Manhattan.

When someone asked Chris about Kong Thursdays, he replied, as he almost always did, with a quick pause, a sudden smile, and said:  “King Kong on Thanksgiving…? Whoever would have thought of such an odd idea?”

Meanwhile, At the Empire State Building: The third installment is about the Empire State Building and Fay Wray.

2 thoughts on “The Celebrated Thanksgiving Ape

  1. Pingback: On the Friday After Thanksgiving: Enchanting Chances, And Cosmic Dances | File 770

  2. I am glad James H. Burns’ excellent “King Kong in the City” trilogy remains available on The Thunder Child website.

    The episode of MAUDE that Jim references in part one is “Vivian’s Party.” Maude’s husband Walter (Bill Macy) is ecstatic when he learns Fay Wray may be attending a party hosted by their friends next door. Walter claims to be the “only man in the world who has seen KING KONG 153 times.”

    Coincidentally, the MAUDE segment originally aired on a Monday night in November 1974, just ten days prior to Thanksgiving!

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