Elsa Lanchester

Actor, Dancer
Gifted character actress, often in eccentric yet wistful parts, in the US from 1934. Perhaps best remembered for her dual roles in "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), as both the monster's mate and his "creator," author ... Read more »
Born: 10/27/1902 in Lewisham, England, GB

Filmography

Actor (45)

Die Laughing 1980 (Movie)

Sophie (Actor)

Murder By Death 1975 (Movie)

Jessica Marbles (Actor)

Arnold 1974 (Movie)

Hester (Actor)

Terror in the Wax Museum 1974 (Movie)

Julia (Actor)

In Name Only 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

Willard 1970 (Movie)

Henrietta Stiles (Actor)

Me, Natalie 1969 (Movie)

Miss Dennison (Actor)

Rascal 1969 (Movie)

Mrs Satterfield (Actor)

My Dog, the Thief 1968 (Movie)

Mrs Formby (Actor)

Easy Come, Easy Go 1967 (Movie)

Madame Neherina (Actor)

The John Forsythe Show 1965 - 1966 (TV Show)

Actor

Mary Poppins 1964 (Movie)

Katie Nanna (Actor)

That Darn Cat 1964 (Movie)

Mrs MacDougall (Actor)

Honeymoon Hotel 1963 (Movie)

Chambermaid (Actor)

Pajama Party 1963 (Movie)

Aunt Wendy (Actor)

Bell, Book and Candle 1958 (Movie)

Aunt Queenie (Actor)

Witness For the Prosecution 1958 (Movie)

Miss Plimsoll (Actor)

The Glass Slipper 1955 (Movie)

Widow Sonder (Actor)

Three Ring Circus 1954 (Movie)

Bearded Lady (Actor)

Buccaneer's Girl 1950 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Spiral Staircase 1945 (Movie)

(Actor)

Forever and a Day 1943 (Movie)

Mamie (Actor)

Bride of Frankenstein 1934 (Movie)

The Bride/Mary Shelley (Actor)

David Copperfield 1934 (Movie)

(Actor)

Naughty Marietta 1934 (Movie)

Madame d'Annard (Actor)

Day-Dreams 1927 (Movie)

(Actor)

Androcles and the Lion (Movie)

Megaera (Actor)

Blackbeard's Ghost (Movie)

Emily (Actor)

Come to the Stable (Movie)

Miss Potts (Actor)

Dreamboat (Movie)

Dr. Coffey (Actor)

Frenchie (Movie)

Countess (Actor)

In Name Only (Movie)

(Actor)

Ladies in Retirement (Movie)

Emily Creed (Actor)

Lassie Come Home (Movie)

Mrs. Carraclough (Actor)

Mystery Street (Movie)

Mrs. Smerrling (Actor)

Northwest Outpost (Movie)

Princess "Tanya" Tatiana (Actor)

Rembrandt (Movie)

Hendrickje Stoffels (Actor)

Son of Fury (Movie)

Bristol Isabel (Actor)

Tales of Manhattan (Movie)

Elsa Smith (Actor)

The Big Clock (Movie)

Louise Patterson (Actor)

The Ghost Goes West (Movie)

Lady Shepperton (Actor)

The Inspector General (Movie)

Maria (Actor)

The Petty Girl (Movie)

Dr. Crutcher (Actor)

The Private Life of Don Juan (Movie)

Maid (Actor)

The Private Life of Henry VIII (Movie)

Anne of Cleves (Actor)

Biography

Gifted character actress, often in eccentric yet wistful parts, in the US from 1934. Perhaps best remembered for her dual roles in "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), as both the monster's mate and his "creator," author Mary Shelley, Lanchester also brought her slightly dizzy, perennially scene-stealing charm to films as diverse as "Rembrandt" (1937), "Mystery Street" (1950), "Bell, Book and Candle" (1958) and "Murder by Death" (1976). Lanchester was married to actor Charles Laughton from 1929 until his death in 1962; besides working memorably together with him in "Rembrandt" she also played the nurse who endlessly fidgets over his misbehaving barrister (both of them received Oscar nominations) in Billy Wilder's delightful "Witness for the Prosecution" (1957).

Relationships

Edith Lanchester

Mother
never married Lanchester's father home-schooled Lanchester

Waldo Lanchester

Brother
born in 1897

Charles Laughton

Husband
moved in together c. 1927 married from February 9. 1929 until his death became US citizen in 1950

James Sullivan

Father
never married Lanchester's mother

EDUCATION

Morris School of Dance and Drama

classmates included Angela and Hermione Baddeley

Isadora Duncan's Bellevue School

Paris
attended at age 11; forced to drop out when WWI began

Milestones

1998

Portrayed by Rosalind Ayres in Bill Condon's award-winning fictional biography of James Whale, "Gods and Monsters"

1983

Suffered a stroke that left her incapacitated

1980

Final film, "Die Laughing"

1976

Reteamed with Estelle Winwood in the Neil Simon-penned spoof of detective fiction "Murder By Death"; played Dame Jessie Marbles

1970

Played Bruce Davison's nagging mother in "Willard"

1967

Dueted with Elvis Presley in "Easy Come, Easy Go"

1964

Returned to acting after Laughton's 1962 death with guest appearance on the TV show "Burke's Law"

1964

Appeared in the Disney feature "Mary Poppins"

1959

Debuted one-woman show "Elsa Lanchester in Person", staged by Laughton

1958

Returned to the stage opposite Laughton in "The Party"

1958

Supported Kim Novak and James Stewart in "Bell, Book and Candle"

1957

Earned second Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for "Witness for the Prosecution"; Laughton also nominated as Best Actor

1955

Acted in a TV musical version of "Heidi" (NBC)

1955

Played the stepmother in "The Glass Slipper", a musical retelling of the Cinderella story; Estelle Winwood also in cast

1954

Cast a circus bearded lady in the Martin & Lewis vehicle "Three-Ring Circus"

1949

Received first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for "Come to the Stable"; played an artista who allows a group of nuns to use her stable as a dispensary

1947

Played a maid in "The Bishop's Wife", starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven

1946

Appeared as a spinster secretary opposite Tyrone Power in "The Razor's Edge"

1946

Cast the cook in the thriller "The Spiral Staircase"

1943

Played leading role in the RKO film "Passport to Destiny"

1940

Acted on Broadway in "They Walk Alone"

1938

Had what she felt was her best her screen role in "The Beachcomber/Vessel of Wrath", playing a spinster missionary

1936

Starred with Laughton in "Rembrandt"

1935

Portrayed author Mary Shelley and the titular "The Bride of Frankenstein"; film reunited her with James Whale who directed; role eventually became her best known

1934

Immigrated to USA

1934

Played the maid Clickett in "David Copperfield"; Laughton had originally been offered role of Mr. Micawber but withdrew and was replaced by W C Fields

1933

Acted in several plays with Laughton at the Old Vic in London

1933

Offered courtesy contract by MGM

1932

Appeared as Anne of Cleves to Laughton's Tudor king in "The Private Life of Henry VIII"

1931

Played Laughton's 12-year-old daughter in the London stage play "Payment Deferred"; made Broadway debut in the role, although neither production was successful

1928

Starred in three short films written by H G Wells, "Bluebottles", "The Tonic" and "Daydreams"

1927

Acted on stage opposite Laughton in "Mr. Prohack"

1927

Made screen acting debut in the silents "One of the Best" and "The Constant Nymph"

1926

Appeared in the musical revue "Riverside Nights"

1923

Stage acting debut alongside John Gielgud in "The Insect Play

1919

At age 16, organized the Children's Theatre (date approximate)

Worked with the L.A. theater company The Turnabout

Had recurring role on the ABC sitcom "Nanny and the Professor"

Founded The Cave of Harmony, a theatrical group whose members included James Whale, H G Wells and Charles Laughton

Had recurring role as the school principal on the NBC sitcom "The John Forsythe Show"

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