Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sidekick: Elsa Lanchester

I’m sorry it’s been awhile since I last posted. Life has been extremely hectic for me. Classes are winding down which means all those giant papers I learned about at the beginning of the semester will be due soon. Being the procrastinator that I am, I’ve barely even started any of them. I’ve pretty much been doing homework from the time I get out of class until I go to bed. This means I have absolutely no time to work on my little blog here which makes me sad. I’m sick of homework so I’m taking a little bit of a study break to write this. It might be quite a while before I can get another post out.

Anyways, I’ve been kind of neglecting my sidekick series so I thought it was time for a new sidekick to spotlight. A really long time ago, I had a poll which was won by Ralph Bellamy. Second place went to Elsa Lanchester so I think she deserves a post as well. If you have any suggestions please let me know!

Elsa Lanchester

The daughter of James Sullivan and Edith Lanchester, Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was born on October 28, 1902 in London, England. Her parents were rather unconventional and refused to give in to societal expectations that said they should get married. Because of this, her mother was placed in an asylum for a while.

At the age of ten, she began studying dance under the famous Isadora Duncan, but left after a few years to become a dance teacher. After World War I, she founded the Children’s Theater and began dabbling in acting. While performing in a play, she met another actor by the name of Charles Laughton, who she married a few years later.

Around the time that she met her husband, she began working in films. One of her best known early performances was as Anne of Cleves in The Private Life of Henry VIII which starred her husband Laughton. However, in 1935 she starred in The Bride of Frankenstein, which has become her best remembered film. Although she played the title role in the film, she was denied top billing.

The remainder of Lanchester’s career was spent in small supporting roles or in her own words, her career consisted of “large parts in lousy pictures and small parts in big pictures”. With large, expressive eyes and a lilting voice, she could play a myriad of characters, from a simple maid to a ditzy witch and everything in between.

As the 1960’s rolled in, her film roles decreased so she worked mostly in television. On December 26, 1986, Lanchester died of pneumonia and her ashes were scattered at sea.

Recommended Films:
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The Spiral Staircase (1945)
The Bishop's Wife (1947)
The Secret Garden (1949)
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Bell, Book, and Candle (1958)
That Darn Cat! (1965)


Kate Gabrielle said...

I love Elsa Lanchester; what a great post! That is so sad about her billing in Bride of Frankenstein! I never noticed that before.

Good luck with the end of your classes-- I've been procrastinating with mine, too, and it's beginning to catch up with me! I will heave a giant sigh of relief when the semester is over and done with!

Sebina said...

I too love Elsa, and I wish you good luck with the end of the semester :)

Nicole said...

It's always great to see her in a movie, I loved her performance in the spiral staircase. Great post on her and looking forward to when you get to write more on here. Good luck with your classes!

DKoren said...

What great timing, because I was just about to go look up more on her. My little 16 mo. old nephew is obsessed with Mary Poppins, and of course Elsa Lancaster is the first nanny in the film and my sister and I love her role. I was telling her about all the roles Elsa has done over the years, etc. So, now I have some more info to share with her! Thank you!

Genevieve said...

Kate: I know, I feel so bad for her! She was great nonetheles!

Thanks a bunch. I definitely can't wait for the semester to end. I bit off more than I could chew. Good luck to you as well!

Sebina: Thank you so much! : )

Nicole: I loved her in the Spiral Staircase as well. Thanks, I can't wait to get some more writing done too!

Dkoren: Wow, I guess I do have pretty good timing! She is wonderful in Mary Poppins. I'm glad I could provide you with some more info about her : )

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