The Bride of Frankenstein thumbnail 1
The Bride of Frankenstein thumbnail 2
+7
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition

The Bride of Frankenstein

Prop
1935 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

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 earn extra money.

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 filmmaking 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.

In 1988 the British Film Institute (BFI) purchased at auction the Boris Karloff Bride of Frankenstein costume and mannequin for their extensive costume collection, which included 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 from the silent film era to the mid-1990s in Britain, Europe, America and Japan. The Boris Karloff costume and mannequin joined their collection on display at the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) on the South Bank in London, as part of their Golden Age of Hollywood section, until its closure in 1999. The BFI costume collection was subsequently transferred to the V&A in 2014, with the Boris Karloff costume and mannequin being formally accessioned by the V&A in 2015.

In 2018 the V&A was made aware that the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art had acquired from Universal Studios and accessioned this same costume and mannequin in 1935, identifiable by a registration number (A.3859-45) engraved on the mannequin. It was sent out on loan in 1949, after which the museum lost touch with the object, and in 1967 it was presumed “destroyed”. The BFI purchased the object at Christie’s South Kensington’s ‘Film and Entertainment’ auction on 16 December 1988 (lot. 301). The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA) and the V&A are in communication around the safe-keeping and conservation of this object.
interact Design and make your own story Use objects from around the home to help you create your own story. Then design the costumes and sets, and bring it to life! Take a look at the objects in our collections for more inspiration. Designed for ages 7 and up.
Object details
Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 6 parts.

  • Jacket
  • Trousers
  • T-Shirt
  • Boot
  • Boot
  • Mannequin
Materials and techniques
Wood, foam padding and painted details. Wool based garments.
Brief description
Clothed wooden mannequin with padding and costume matching that worn by Boris Karloff in the film The Bride of Frankenstein,1935
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.
Dimensions
  • Top of head to end of 'poles' (base of mount missing) length: 204cm (approximate)
  • Widest point width: 58cm (approximate)
Exact dimensions to be confirmed after mount has been finalised.
Credit line
Given by the British Film Institute
Summary
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 earn extra money.



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 filmmaking 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.



In 1988 the British Film Institute (BFI) purchased at auction the Boris Karloff Bride of Frankenstein costume and mannequin for their extensive costume collection, which included 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 from the silent film era to the mid-1990s in Britain, Europe, America and Japan. The Boris Karloff costume and mannequin joined their collection on display at the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) on the South Bank in London, as part of their Golden Age of Hollywood section, until its closure in 1999. The BFI costume collection was subsequently transferred to the V&A in 2014, with the Boris Karloff costume and mannequin being formally accessioned by the V&A in 2015.



In 2018 the V&A was made aware that the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art had acquired from Universal Studios and accessioned this same costume and mannequin in 1935, identifiable by a registration number (A.3859-45) engraved on the mannequin. It was sent out on loan in 1949, after which the museum lost touch with the object, and in 1967 it was presumed “destroyed”. The BFI purchased the object at Christie’s South Kensington’s ‘Film and Entertainment’ auction on 16 December 1988 (lot. 301). The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA) and the V&A are in communication around the safe-keeping and conservation of this object.

Collection
Accession number
S.1703:1 to 6-2015

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

Record createdMay 29, 2015
Record URL
Download as: JSONIIIF Manifest