October 28, 1902 - December 26, 1986
Born Elizabeth Sullivan in London, England
Married to actor Charles Laughton
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A Lot of Favorite Memories of Elsa Lanchester
- As "Anne of Cleves," managing to keep her head through all the hubbub in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), directed by Alexander Corda.
Elsa's husband Charles Laughton won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in the title role, with a fine supporting cast including
Robert Donat, Franklin Dyall, Miles Mander, John Loder, Claud Allister, Merle Oberon and Wendy Barrie.
- As "Clickett" in MGM's star-studded adaptation of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield (1935), directed by George Cukor.
With Freddie Bartholomew, W. C. Fields, Basil Rathbone, Lionel Barrymore, Una O'Connor, E. E. Clive, Roland Young and Lewis Stone.
- As "Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley" and "The Monster's Mate" in the classic horror film Bride of Frankenstein (1935), directed by James Whale.
Elsa in in great company with the brilliant cast, including Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger, Dwight Frye, O. P. Heggie and Una O'Connor.
- In a cameo as a dinner guest, "Miss Shepperton," in the romantic fantasy-comedy about a Scottish spook shipped to America
with his dissassembled family castle, The Ghost Goes West (1935), directed by RenÚ Clair.
With Robert Donat in a dual role, Jean Parker and Eugene Pallette.
- As the artist's last love, the maid "Hendrickje Stoffels," in Rembrandt (1936), directed by Alexander Korda.
Starring Charles Laughton and Gertrude Lawrence, with a large supporting case including Roger Livesey, Raymond Huntley,
Abraham Sofaer, Evelyn Ankers (uncredited) and Wilfrid Hyde-White.
- As "Martha Jones," the spinster missionary trying to reform a shiftless character in Vessel of Wrath
(1938, US title: The Beachcomber), directed by Erich Pommer,
based on W. Somerset Maugham's novel.
Starring Charles Laughton, with Robert Newton and Tyrone Guthrie.
- As "Emily Creed," one of the two dependant sisters of the murderess in the suspenseful Ladies in Retirement (1941), directed by Charles Vidor.
Starring Ida Lupino, with Louis Hayward, Evelyn Keyes, Edith Barrett, Isobel Elsom and Emma Dunn.
- As streetwalker "Bristol Isabel" in the period adventure Son of Fury (1942) directed by John Cromwell.
Starring Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, George Sanders and Frances Farmer, with
John Carradine, Harry Davenport, Dudley Digges, Roddy McDowall, Halliwell Hobbes, Pedro de Cordoba,
Lester Matthews, Dennis Hoey, Harry Cording, Ethel Griffies and Olaf Hytten.
- As "Elsa Smith" in her husbands touching musical segment of the all-star episodic comedy-drama about successive owners of a custom-made tailcoat,
Tales of Manhattan (1942), directed by Julien Duvivier.
With Charles Boyer, Rita Hayworth, Ginger Rogers, Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton, Edward G. Robinson, Paul Robeson, Ethel Waters,
Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Thomas Mitchell, Eugene Pallette , Cesar Romero, Roland Young, Victor Francen, George Sanders, James Gleason, Harry Davenport,
J. Carrol Naish, Sig Arno, Morris Ankrum, Clarence Muse, Don Beddoe, E.E. Clive, W.C. Fields and Rondo Hatton!
- As "Mamie, Hotel Maid" in Forever and a Day (1943)
- Starring as "Ella Muggins," a charwoman planning to assassinate Hitler, protected by a lucky ring owned by her late husband
(Charles Laughton in prop photo!) in the wartime fantasy Passport to Destiny (1944).
With Gordon Oliver, LÚnore Aubert, Lionel Royce, Fritz Feld, Gavin Muir, Lloyd Corrigan, Lumsden Hare and Olaf Hytten.
- As "Mrs. Oates," the cook, in the suspense classic The Spiral Staircase (1946), directed by Robert Siodmak.
- As "Matilda" the maid in The Bishop's Wife (1947).
- As "Louise Patterson," an oddball artist involved in a murder investigation in the classic film noir mystery in The Big Clock (1948).
- As "Martha" in The Secret Garden (1949).
- Nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar (first time) in her role as "Amelia Potts," a dotty artist helping nuns build a childrens' hospital, in
Come to the Stable (1949), directed by Henry Koster.
Starring Loretta Young and Celeste Holm, with Hugh Marlowe, Thomas Gomez, Dooley Wilson, Regis Toomey and Mike Mazurki.
- As "Maria" in The Inspector General (1949).
- As "Mrs. Smerrling," attempting to blackmail a murderer in the grim forensic-detective story Mystery Street (1950), directed by John Sturges.
Ricardo Montalban, Sally Forrest, Bruce Bennett, Marshall Thompson, Jan Sterling, Edmon Ryan, Betsy Blair,
Wally Maher, Ralph Dumke, Willard Waterman and Walter Burke.
- As "Madame Magloire" in Les Miserables (1952), directed by Lewis Milestone, based on Victor Hugo's novel.
Starring Michael Rennie as Jean Valjean and Robert as Javert, the policeman pursuing him.
With a fine cast including Debra Paget, Edmund Gwenn, Sylvia Sidney, Cameron Mitchell, James Robertson Justice,
Joseph Wiseman, Rhys Williams, Merry Anders, John Dierkes, Norma Varden, Olaf Hytten, Lester Matthews and Ian Wolfe.
- As "The Bearded Lady" in the zany Big Top comedy 3 Ring Circus (1954), directed by Joseph Pevney.
Starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, with Joanne Dru, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Wallace Ford, Sig Ruman, Gene Sheldon,
Nick Cravat, Douglas Fowley, Kathleen Freeman, George E. Stone, Billy Curtis and Harry Monty.
- As "Widow Sonder," the evil stepmother in MGM's musical romance "Cinderella," The Glass Slipper (1955), directed by Charles Walters.
Starring Leslie Caron and Michael Wilding, with Keenan Wynn, Estelle Winwood, Barry Jones, Amanda Blake, Lisa Daniels, Lurene Tuttle,
Robert Dix and Bud Osborne.
Narrated by Walter Pidgeon.
- Nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar (second time) in her role as "Miss Plimsoll,"
nurse of an aging barrister (Charles Laughton) defending a man accused of murder in the surprising courtroom mystery
Witness for the Prosecution (1957), directed by Billy Wilder, based on a play by Agatha Christie.
Best Actor Oscar nomination for Laughton, and Best Supporting Actress nomination for Lanchester.
Co-starring Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich, with superb support from John Williams, Henry Daniell,
Ian Wolfe, Torin Thatcher, Norma Varden, Una O'Connor, Francis Compton, Franklyn Farnum and Ottola Nesmith.
- As "Queenie," the matchmaking witch in the romantic comedy about witchcraft, Bell Book and Candle (1958), directed by Richard Quine.
Starring bewildered James Stewart and bewitching Kim Novak, with Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs and Hermione Gingold.
- As herself, interviewed on local California TV station KCBS's live morning show Panorama Pacific on April Fool's Day (April 1), 1964.
During the show she was chased offstage by the surprise appearance of legendary "Monster Kid" Bob Burns in Mummy makeup,
and later picked up and carried away by Bob in his famous "Kogar" gorilla outfit.
For more information about this show, including great photos, see Bob's fabulous, award-winning book
"Monster Kid Memories" (co-written with Tom Weaver), available at his Web site.
- As "Aggie McGregor" in "The McGregor Affair" episode of the TV mystery/suspense series The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (November 23, 1964).
- As "Katie Nanna," the nanny replaced by the title character in Disney's family favorite Mary Poppins (1964).
- As "Aunt Wendy" in Pajama Party (1964).
- As the villainous "Dr. Dabree" in "The Brain Killer Affair" on the TV secret-agency series Man from U.N.C.L.E. (March 8, 1965).
- As "Mrs. MacDougall" in That Darn Cat! (1965).
- As the yoga teacher, "Madame Neherina," in the Elvis Presley musical comedy Easy Come, Easy Go (1967).
- As "Emily Stowecroft," a descendant of the famous pirate, in the Disney comedy Blackbeard's Ghost (1968).
With Peter Ustinov, Dean Jones and Suzanne Pleshette.
- As "Henrietta Stiles," nagging mother of Willard (1971).
- As "Lydia Bowen" in the "Green Fingers" segment of the TV fantasy/horror series Night Gallery (January 5, 1972).
- As "Hester", eccentric sister of the title character (Norman Stuart) in the dark mystery/comedy Arnold (1973).
With Stella Stevens, Roddy McDowall, Shani Wallis, Farley Granger, Victor Buono, John McGiver, Bernard Fox, Patric Knowles and Jamie Farr.
- As "Julia Hawthorn," taking over murdered John Carradine's museum in Terror in the Wax Museum (1973).
With Ray Milland, Maurice Evans, Mark Edwards, Louis Hayward, Patric Knowles, and Broderick Crawford.
- As "Miss Jessica Marbles" in playwright Neil Simon's hilarious spoof of detective fiction characters, Murder by Death (1976).
Directed by Robert Moore.
With Peter Falk (Sam Diamond), Eileen Brennan (Tess Skeffington), James Coco (Inspector Milo Perrier), James Cromwell (Marcel, Perrier's secretary);
Estelle Winwood (Miss Withers, Miss Marbles' nurse), David Niven and Maggie Smith (Dick and Dora Charleston), Peter Sellers (as Inspector Sidney Wang),
Richard Narita (as Willie Wang, #3 son), Truman Capote (as their host, Lionel Twain), Alec Guinness (as Jamesir Bensonmum, Twain's blind butler),
and Nancy Walker (Yetta the maid).
- As "Sophie," one of the characters involved with a
monkey, a cab driver framed for murder and a plutonium bomb formula in the comedy Die Laughing (1980), directed by Jeff Werner.
With Robby Benson, Linda Grovenor, Charles Durning, Bud Cort, Peter Coyote, Charles Fleischer and Carel Struycken.
- As the author of two revealing volumes of memoirs, Charles Laughton and I (1938) and Elsa Lanchester, Herself (1983).
- As a talented performer of bawdy Cockney songs, released on several long-playing record albums including Songs For A Shuttered Parlor,
Songs for a Smoke-filled Room and Cockney London: Songs by Elsa Lanchester.
Go Back to BOOS WHO Classic Horror Players Directory List
Last revised August 22, 2005 by George "E-gor" Chastain.
Maintained by George "E-gor" Chastain