A really big star came for tea

King Kong has  a cup of tea whilst guarding Blackpool Tower
1984
King Kong has a cup of tea whilst guarding Blackpool Tower 1984
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The Blackpool version of the King Kong story didn’t involve expeditions to remote islands or even a beauty and the beast twist.

The very big – 85ft in fact – star did come to town... for the 90th birthday of a special lady, the Tower, in August 1984.

With his 3ft long teeth, 80ft waist, wrists with a 30ft circumference, and weighing in at a massive 2,500lbs, the giant ape must have been quite a sight, peering down on the people below – and no doubt distracted one or two motorists along the Promenade.

Unlike his New York counterpart, this huge nylon inflatable version of King Kong was not going to go walkabout across town. He was secured to the Tower with strong rigging, connected to the iconic structure in a dozen places.

Then owners of the Tower, First Leisure, had gone big-game hunting for an attraction to draw the crowds to mark the special anniversary and imported the beast from California.

The nation’s newspaper, TV and radio reporters had been given a sneak preview of King Kong – all 22,750ft of flame resistant vinyl-coated nylon – at a special preview in the Tower Ballroom. But the 64ft high room could not contain the mighty animal. Ceiling windows had to be removed to give the fellow a little breathing space.

King Kong’s visit had even received Government approval. The Department of the Environment saw no reason to stand in the way of Blackpool Council giving permission for the feat – one of the most spectacular seaside stunts the resort had seen.

The great ape’s appearance isn’t the only connection King Kong has with Blackpool. He was in part created by the legendary thriller writer, Edgar Wallace. A man who very nearly became Blackpool’s first celebrity MP.

Tragically, Wallace didn’t live to see the success of the first film, although his name appears on the screen-writing credits.

Wallace died of pneumonia within a few months of arriving in Hollywood ... but not before setting the scene for the mighty King Kong.

The debonair British writer enjoyed a lifestyle stranger than fiction. He developed a love of Blackpool during a visit to the Grand to see his play The Calendar. He had also visited the resort in 1915 when, as a journalist, he reported on the trial of George Joseph Smith – the Brides in the Bath Murders.

In 1931, he decided to stand as a Liberal MP for Blackpool. But he gained just 29 per cent of the vote and lost.

He left the town and was invited to Hollywood to take up the post of screen writer. It was there he worked on the script for King Kong, from a story originally conceived by producer Merian C Cooper.