Who was the frightfully pretty Bride of Frankensteirn you ask? She was given the name Elsa Sullivan Lanchester born on October 28, 1902 in London, England. Her parents James Sullivan and Edith Lanchester were a tad 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 by her parents.
At the age of ten Elsa 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. How sad right?!
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 at her home in Woodland Hills, California and her ashes were scattered at sea.