Birthdate: Tuesday, October 28th, 1902
Location: Lewisham, London, UK
Died: Friday, December 26th, 1986
Location: California, USA
Cause of death: Bronchopneumonia
Best known for: Elsa will forever be associated with the iconic role of the bride of Frankenstein in the 1935 film of the same name. She was nominated for an Oscar twice - for Best Supporting Actress in Come to the Stable (1949, losing to Mercedes McCambridge) and in Witness for the Prosecution (1958, losing to Miyoshi Umeki).
In 1929, years before Elsa came to recognition as the fright-haired bride, she married fellow actor Charles Laughton, and they remained married for the rest of Charles's life, until he died in 1962. The pair appeared in no fewer than 12 movies together during this time.
|Elsa as Katy Nanna in Mary Poppins|
As the 1960s wore on she found herself appearing more and more on TV, such as Burke's Law (1963/64), The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1964), The Man from UNCLE (1965) and regularly in The John Forsythe Show (1965-66), but film roles did not die out completely - they included That Darn Cat! (1965), Blackbeard's Ghost (1968) and Willard (1971).
|Elsa was 74 when she played Miss|
Marbles in the comedy Murder By Death
Elsa's final screen appearance was in April 1980, aged 77, in a woeful film called Die Laughing, in which a San Francisco cab driver finds himself in possession of a monkey that is carrying the formula for turning atomic waste into a plutonium bomb. Cue lots of capering about the city pursued by various characters intent on getting their hands on the formula. I've no idea what it means, but the film's tagline is classic: "As a singer, he's a killer. As a lover, he's a killer. As a killer, he's a lovely singer"! The film starred Robby Benson as our hero Pinsky, and Elsa played his guardian Sophie, who helped him in his bizarre quest.
|In her final acting role in|
1980's Die Laughing, aged 77
Not long after the release of her autobiography, Elsa's health took a turn for the worse and during the mid-1980s she suffered two strokes, becoming completely bedridden and needing 24-hour care. In March 1986 the Motion Picture and Television Fund filed to become conservator of Elsa and her estate, valued at $900,000. Elsa passed away, aged 84, at the Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, on Boxing Day, 1986, of bronchopneumonia: she had requested no funeral or memorial service. She was cremated on January 5th, 1987 at the Chapel of the Pines in Los Angeles and her ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
A bit of fun: Here's an interview Dick Cavett did with Elsa (or should that be Flossie Floozy?) in August 1970, when she was 68, talking about her late husband Charles Laughton, as well as Isadora Duncan (who she describes as an "untalented bag of beans"!).