Lanchester studied dance as a child and after the First World War began performing in theatre and cabaret, where she established her career over the following decade. She met the actor Charles Laughton in 1927, and they were married two years later. She began playing small roles in British films, including the role of Anne of Cleves with Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). His success in American films resulted in the couple moving to Hollywood, where Lanchester played small film roles.
Her role as the title character in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) brought her recognition. She played supporting roles through the 1940s and 1950s. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Come to the Stable (1949) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957), the last of twelve films in which she appeared with Laughton. Following Laughton's death in 1962, Lanchester resumed her career with appearances in such Disney films as Mary Poppins (1964), That Darn Cat! (1965) and Blackbeard's Ghost (1968). The horror film Willard (1971) was highly successful, and one of her last roles was in Murder by Death (1976).
- "First, she was not beautiful; though perkily attractive, she was small, with frizzy red hair and an oddly blunted nose." http://www.filmreference.com/Actors-an…/Lanchester-Elsa.html
- "Elsa Lanchester. (The Bride Of Frankenstein) Red hair; and it is this natural colour that was pulled over a wire frame in her most famous appearance." http://www.headlesshearseman.com/paint.html
|Portrait by Doris Clare Zinkeisen|