October 28, 1902 - December 26, 1986
Elsa the Exotic!
An early student of Isadora Duncan, the mother of modern dance, Lanchester began her career as a dancer and singer in Britain's iconic music halls.
"Don't Tell My Mother I'm Living in Sin"
In pretty short order she transitioned into silent films; her first credited role was as Beatrice de Carolle in the 1925 film, The Scarlet Woman.
|Looking like a proper starlet|
A pretty safe assumption is that Lanchester's most iconic role is that of Mary Shelley/ The Monster's Bride in the 1930's classic, horror film, Bride of Frankenstein.
|Bride of Frankenstein (1935)|
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Don't you love the hiss?
In an effort to maintain full disclosure, I will admit that I have never seen Bride of Frankenstein in its entirety! My first exposure to Lanchester was actually her hilarious portrayal of Edna Grundy in the "Off to Florida" episode of I Love Lucy. In this episode, Lucy and Ethel mistake Grundy for escaped convict and "gray-haired hatchet murderess, Evelyn Holmby."
|"I love buttered grass."|
I Love Lucy, "Off to Florida" (original air date 10/12/56)
Mary Poppins (1964)
Lanchester had a long (spanning seven decades) and storied career, to say nothing of her infamous marriage to star of stage and screen, Charles Laughton. But we know her best for her eccentricity, her charisma, and her outstanding contributions to wacky tacky film festivals.
|Bell, Book and Candle (1958)|
I've never been a Kim Novak fan, but Lanchester, as spooky
Aunt Queenie, definitely makes the film watchable.
|Pajama Party (1964)|
In my VERY favorite of all the AIP beach party movies,
Lanchester played eccentric Aunt Wendy
|That Darn Cat! (1965)|
As part of the 1960's obsession with nosey neighbors (see Gladys Kravitz),
Lanchester played the indignant Mrs. MacDougall.
|That Darn Cat! (1965)|
Mrs. MacDougall, herself.
Blackbeard's Ghost (1968)
As zany as ever, Lanchester plays pirate progeny,
Emily Stowecroft, in this classic tale of cursed pirate haunting the living
and saving the homestead of old ladies from a dubious mob head by
fixing the big track meet, thereby saving his eternal soul and
bringing love to faculty member at the local college!
I LOVE this movie!
I really enjoyed watching these excerpts from her 1970 appearance on "The Dick Cavett Show." One really gets a sense of her upbringing, her relationship with her husband, and her weirdness. Dig that crazy medallion/talisman!
"The Dick Cavett Show" (1970) - pt.1
"The Dick Cavett Show" (1970) - pt. 2
Thanks for your indulgence. We haven't featured a wacky tacky icon in a long time and having just recently reviewed Blackbeard's Ghost, I have been on an Elsa Lanchester high!