Being known as "The Bride of Frankenstein" is an unusual form of fame, but for Elsa Lanchester the unusual came naturally. Born to radical socialist parents who made civil disobedience a way of life, Elsa attended a Summerhill-like all-boys school and later "studied" in Paris with Isadora Duncan. She returned to London at age thirteen to dance and give lessons in the new sBeing known as "The Bride of Frankenstein" is an unusual form of fame, but for Elsa Lanchester the unusual came naturally. Born to radical socialist parents who made civil disobedience a way of life, Elsa attended a Summerhill-like all-boys school and later "studied" in Paris with Isadora Duncan. She returned to London at age thirteen to dance and give lessons in the new style. At seventeen, she opened her own theater. The Cave of Harmony, which was frequented by people such as H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and Evelyn Waugh. She began performing with and then fell in love with an up-and-coming young actor named Charles Laughton. Soon after their marriage he revealed his homosexuality. Though it made their union shaky at times, it did not overshadow their common love of art, music, and nature, and their marriage endured for thirty-six years until Laughton's death. Elsa and Charles were paired in many plays, including Peter Pan and The Tempest. They began to appear in films and soon Hollywood beckoned. After making two films for MGM, Elsa was loaned to Universal Studios in 1935 for the role that would win her the most enduring fame: The Bride of Frankenstein. Elsa Lanchester, Herself presents the story of a woman ahead of her time: independent, iconoclastic, liberated. It is the chronicle of a life filled with famous people from Bertolt Brecht to Henry Fonda, and of a career that spanned almost seven decades, encompassing stage, screen, television, nightclubs, recordings, and books. It is also a warm, truthful account of a very special marriage. Witty and wise, Elsa Lanchester's account of her life and times is a delight....
|Title||:||Elsa Lanchester, Herself|
|Number of Pages||:||327 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Elsa Lanchester, Herself Reviews
A really very heartfelt autobiography by one of the great, yet mostly forgotten English actresses. This was written in her 80s and looks back on her life in film, two world wars, stage acting in London, her dance career and her marriage to actor Charles Laughton. A large portion focuses on her husband's struggle with his own homosexuality and his career, and her own philosophy on it and her decisions to support him are most touching. Her early bohemian lifestyle is a very magical read,especially if you are a Londoner and it counterpointed by the later exhausting toll the American acting world had on her.
Elsa's writing style is a bit scattered, like she had ADHD or something. That said, she knew everyone and did everything! Her creative being/performer's high strung personality was offset by compassion and ability to love unconditionally.Be ready to hear of the many profound personalities she met from the first half of the 20 the century (the list goes on and on, Bernard-Shaw, Pound, DH Lawrence, Brecht, Weill Olivier and later the Hollywood people), altho Elsa is not a name dropper. She really was friends with these people.This book also made me consider the compromises people make to stay married for a long time. Charles Laughton liked to have the occasional dalliance with a man, and Elsa, contrary to what Charles deeply desired, did not want any children and wouldn't have any. Yet together they stayed and together performed for decades. Ironic, as her own parents never married, on general principle (iconoclastic socialists in turn of the century London).
Fascinating at first, but sadly kind of tedious by the end, as it kind of degenerated into a lot of score-settling, and I didn't care about any of it. Not sure why I finished it, but I did. Anyway, the first part, about her parents and her childhood and youth is really good, well worth reading. After they move to Hollywood, there's a fair amount of fun show-biz gossip. I was hoping she'd have more to say about the 3 gay men she worked with at the Turnabout Theater in LA (one of whom was the author of an early gay novel with a happy ending, that was basically their story), but she's only focused on the fun she had working with them. Given that she was married to the closeted actor Charles Laughton, maybe she felt that discretion was called for? The oddest thing about this book is the weird way she writes about her marriage: She seems to be accepting of his homosexuality as a need, and feels sorry for him that he is so guilt-ridden about meeting the need, but then relates all these incidents without commentary that make you wonder what the heck was going on with them. She clearly loved him, and felt protective of him, but the situation also seems to have been hard for her, too. Yet she is either incapable or unwilling to enlarge on the topic, instead merely reporting as if what we really need to know is who said what to whom on which occasion. So if you are curious at all, I highly recommend the first part of the book, but if and when you get bored, give up, don't keep going, you really don't need to finish the whole thing.
More about her husband than her.
Elsa's began her autobiography with a delightful voice in which she described her parents and her own early lives. The Lanchester family was intriguingly counter-culture, creative and socialist-minded. I was delighted and inspired by Elsa's early life - she very much embodied the "Bohemian" in all that she did. And then she met Charles Laughton - at which point, the book seemed to detail more of Charles's life than anything else. At one point, she commented on a female acquaintance who didn't work and how frustrated this talented woman must be - living under her husband's shadow. But, Lanchester - for all her cinematic accomplisments - seemed to have written her memoir under similar circumstances. After the promising first few chapters, the book became a vague but sometimes witty collection of observations - mostly highlighting Charle's career and life. I imagine it would be incredibly difficult to be married to Laughton - aside from the fact he had male lovers throughout their marriage - he seemed quite self-centred. She barely discusses her film roles and even omits roles (no mention of Bell, Book & Candle film, for example). The book warrants a read simply because she was such a unique and talented person but sadly I think the book is also a sign of the times in which she lived.
Stuff You Missed in History Class did two podcast segments on Ms. Lanchester, and kept referring to this out of print book. Lucky for me that I can hit John K. King Books and pick up these out of print darlings! The book was very interesting, but I felt like it was a lot more about her husband, Charles Laughton, in many places; his death scene dragged on forever. Still, her early story was fascinating--her parents, especially her mother, were definitely not typical. Elsa sure could drop a lot of names--she was exposed to many of the movers and shakers of the art world. My best memory of her was as the crazy lady from the Twilight Zone who kept growing new versions of herself out in the garden--they all had little roots sticking out. Scared the heck out of me. Now I know "the rest of the story."
The lady led a fascinating life.
That took a lifetime. What a sad story. . . I thought, anyway.