Elsa Lanchester

On this date in 1902, actress Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was born In London to atheist parents. She studied to be a dancer with Isadora Duncan, then turned to acting as a teenager, debuting in films in 1924. Routinely described as a “dedicated nonconformist,” she married Charles Laughton in 1929, with whom she had an unorthodox marriage.

Her splashy American debut was as the “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935). She played Anne of Cleves in “The Private Life of Henry VIII” (1933). Her many other films include: “Lassie Come Home” (1946), “The Spiral Staircase” (1947), “The Big Clock” (1949), “Come to the Stable” (1949), “Les Miserables” (1955), “The Glass Slipper” (1958), “Witness for the Prosecution” (1957), “Bell, Book & Candle” and “Mary Poppins” (1964), “Pajama Party” (1965), “That Darn Cat” (1968), “Murder by Death” (1976) and “Die Laughing” (1980).

She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her roles in “Come to the Stable” and “Witness for the Prosecution.” She wrote two autobiographies: Charles and I (1938) and Elsa Lanchester Herself (1983). Ultra-religious actress Maureen O’Hara, in her own autobiography, mentioned twice that Lanchester did not believe in God. D. 1986.

Photo: Lanchester in 1935 in “Naughty Marietta.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation