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Elsa Lanchester

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Having studied with Isadora Duncan as a child, Elsa Lanchester entered the theatre at the age of 16. She became an actress and a singer in night clubs and music halls and was popular in the revue show Riverside Nights in London with such songs as ‘I’ve Danced With the Man Who Danced With the Girl Who Danced With the Prince of Wales’.

She began working on the stage with the actor Charles Laughton in 1927 and they were married two years later. Their first talking film together was The Private Life of Henry Vlll in which she played Anne of Cleves.

She continued her classical stage work, particularly at the Old Vic. while appearing in films. She made her Hollywood debut in David Copperfield and followed that successful film with possibly her most famous performance in The Bride of Frankenstein, in a dual role as Mary Shelley and the woman made for the monster. In 1938 she moved permanently to Hollywood with Laughton and in 1950 became an American citizen.

She worked as a character actress in films and TV until her death in 1986.

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Key films
1927: One of the Best
1928: The Constant Nymph
1931: Potiphar’s Wife
1933: The Private Life of Henry VIII
1935: David Copperfield (USA); The Bride of Frankenstein (USA): Naughty Marietta (USA); The Ghost Goes West
1936: Rembrandt
1938: Vessel of Wrath (USA: The Beachcomber)
1941: Ladies in Retirement (USA)
1957: Witness for the Prosecution (USA)
1976: Murder by Death (USA)


Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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