It must have sounded like a great publicity stunt at the time.
In April 1983, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of King Kong, the owners of the Empire State Building decided to hoist an 84-foot inflatable replica of the lovestruck mega-gorilla to the top of the building, anchoring it to the mooring mast for a week.
A little tawdry, perhaps. But the Empire State Building was losing ground to newer, more fashionable skyscrapers. The owners, Harry and Leona Helmsley, thought the inflatable King Kong would keep the building in the public eye, wrote Mitchell Pacelle in his book Empire.
Of course, things didn’t go as planned. “The 3,000 pound balloon arrived deflated and folded into a crate,” explains Pacelle. “But the measurements had been bungled, and the crate wouldn’t fit into the elevator.”
Kong was unpacked, squeezed into the elevator to the 86th floor, then brought manually to the mooring mast to be inflated in front of a pack of media reporters.
Kong’s shoulder popped during the inflation, and that, along with 100 mile an hour winds, postponed the unveiling, though two hired biplanes continued to fly around, mimicking the action in the movie (right).
“The next morning, with the winds subsided, Kong was hastily inflated,” said Pacelle. But he sprang another leak, the winds whipped up, and he was brought down forever.
Tags: Empire State Building in movies, famous New York movie scenes, King Kong Balloon Empire State Building, King Kong Empire State Building, King Kong in New York, King Kong inflated on Empire State Building, Leona Helmsley, New York in the 1980s