Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bride of Frankenstein - born in Lewisham

At Transpontine we have uncovered various South London monster connections, incuding most recently Shaun of the Dead.

Thanks to Captain Normal, we can now reveal that Elsa Lanchester, who played both Mary Shelley and the Bride of Frankenstein in the 1935 film of the same name, was born Elizabeth Sullivan in 1902 at 48 Farley Road, Lewisham. She came from an interesting background - her parents, James Sullivan and Edith Lanchester 'were militant socialists, pacifists, and vegetarians who caused a scandal when, true to their free love beliefs, they decided to live together in 1895 without marrying. Edith's family was so outraged that they kidnapped her in collusion with a psychiatrist who committed her to a lunatic asylum. Her cause was taken up by fellow members of the Social Democratic Federation (she had been secretary to Eleanor Marx) and her release was secured when she was found not to be insane'. Elsa Lanchester maried Charles Laughton and moved to Hollywood. She died in 1986.

Dracula has been seen locally in various guises, with Gary Oldman (who played the Count in Bram Stoker's Dracula) born in New Cross, and parts of Interview with a Vampire filmed at St Pauls Church in Deptford. Bela Lugosi himself played Dracula at The Hippodrome, Lewisham in May 1951. We have also heard that the old library building in Lewisham Way (now the Arthouse) was used in one Dracula film, but we don't know which one - any ideas?


Scott Wood said...

Oh, I used to have, as a lonely and morbid teenager stuck in Sandhurst, a picture of Elsa Lancaster on my bedroom wall.

I think the picture rather informed my own taste in girls (mad hair, starey eyes).

ian said...

Just come across this. Worth noting that Boris Karloff was born in Forest Hill. One wonders what the on set conversations were like.
The Vampire movie filmed in the Old Deptford Library (the Arthouse)was Tale of a Vampire (1992)starring Julian Sands, Suzanna Hamilton and Kenneth Cranham.
Some of the old library crown went to see the premiere at Leicester Square. I remember watching a body slumped in the downstairs toilet and thinking, 'that was most of my Monday mornings'.