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The Bride of Frankenstein

  • Object:

    Prop

  • Place of origin:

    United States (made)

  • Date:

    1935 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    West, Vera (designers)
    Universal International Pictures (Made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood, foam padding and painted details. Wool based garments.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the British Film Institute

  • Museum number:

    S.1703:1-2015

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

British stage actor Boris Karloff (1887 – 1969) is remembered today for a series of iconic ‘monster’ roles in the 1930s. Born William Henry Pratt in London, Karloff began his acting career in Canada, touring with the Jeanne Russell Company. When Karloff arrived in Hollywood in the 1920s, he made a series of silent films but often worked as a labourer between acting roles to make ends meet.

Karloff’s break-through came in 1931 when he appeared as Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931). The film was an instant box office success, its popularity ignited the horror genre within Hollywood film-making and its influence is still felt today. The film spawned a series of sequels including The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939) in which Karloff reprised the role of the monster. Much of the success of the films was in part credited to Karloff’s portrayal of the creature and the sympathy that he evoked in his performance.

Karloff returned to the stage in the 1940s appearing in the comedy Arsenic and Old Lace (1941) and as Captain Hook in Peter Pan (1950). In a sixty year career, he appeared in over 150 films, and yet Frankenstein’s monster remains his most enduring creation.

The British Film Institute (BFI) acquired its costume collection for display at the Museum of the Moving Image, which existed on the South Bank in London between 1988 and 1999. The collection is made up of British, European, American and Chinese films and covers the period from the silent film era to the mid-1990s. It contains a wealth of historic and significant film costumes worn by major performers and designed by some of the 20th century’s most important film costume designers. The collection was transferred to the V&A in 2015.

Physical description

Clothed wooden dummy with padding, and costume consisting of black coat, knitted round neck jumper and trousers, matching that worn by Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster in the film The Bride of Frankenstein,1935.

Place of Origin

United States (made)

Date

1935 (made)

Artist/maker

West, Vera (designers)
Universal International Pictures (Made)

Materials and Techniques

Wood, foam padding and painted details. Wool based garments.

Dimensions

Length: 204 cm Top of head to end of 'poles' (base of mount missing) approximate, Width: 58 cm Widest point approximate

Descriptive line

Clothed wooden mannequin with padding and costume matching that worn by Boris Karloff in the film The Bride of Frankenstein,1935

Materials

Wood; Wool; Foam; Paint

Techniques

Knitting; Painting; Carving

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Film and Cinema; Costumes; Secrets of the Museum

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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