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Elsa Lanchester, George Burns & Gracie Allen

She will forever be identified as the Bride of Frankenstein, despite the fact that this character's on-screen time in the film of the same name lasted only a bit longer than the average pop single. Elsa Lanchester was a versatile British character actress and performer who was often typecast as a wisecracking cockney dame gal in her early days. Although her long film career developed into parts with a softer edge, some offbeat comedy roles in combination with her husband, Charles Laughton, and the aforementioned monster spectacular, she eventually returned to the Cockney roots to create recordings anthologizing Bawdy Cockney Songs, and when that had proved to be a good idea, More Bawdy Cockney Songs. The risqué themes of these songs are best represented by the example song title "Linda and Her Londonderry Air."

She was born Elizabeth Sullivan and studied dance beginning at the age of 11 with the famous Isadora Duncan. She was forced to return home from Duncan's school of dance in Paris only a year later when war broke out and had to abandon her girlhood dream of performing classical dance. At age 12, she was sent to a Welsh boarding school to teach dance classes in trade for her education and food. At only 16 years old, she was one of the organizers of a London children's theater company and also taught there for several years. During this time, she belonged to a group called the Cave of Harmony Productions that performed one-act plays, as well as cabaret songs. During one of the group's performances in 1926 at the London Metropole, a member of the British Royal family walked out in disgust during Lanchester's rendition of the song "Please Sell No More Drink to My Father." Perhaps this should be taken as a good omen, since the song later became one of her trademark numbers. Her knack for acting led to a successful career on the English stage, and in 1927 she made her film debut in One of the Best. She met Laughton in 1933 while filming The Private Life of Henry VIII, in which she played Ann of Cleves. The couple eventually moved to Hollywood where their careers took off. Her film career lasted half a century, ending with her final film, Sophie, in 1980. Come to the Stable in 1949 was the first of her two Oscar nominations and she also appeared regularly on television. In addition to the film and television work, her Los Angeles years also included a great deal of stage performances. Beginning in the '30s, she became involved with that city's Turnabout Theatre on Olvera Street, a wonderfully creative enterprise spearheaded by the puppet troupe of writer and performer Forman Brown. She joined the troupe on a permanent basis and became one of the venue's most popular attractions, the audience seats filling with stars of the magnitude of Greta Garbo and Douglas Fairbanks. In this setting, she was involved in creating an evolving series of cabaret song presentations using material written by Brown, who scribbled out more than 50 songs written with her unique style in mind. These titles include "Catalogue Woman," "It's Nice to See You're Back," and "When a Lady Has a Piazza." Lanchester died of pneumonia. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 100 Of The Greatest Comedy Skits

1. Football Results

2. Nursery School

3. Pass That Peace Pipe

4. Meet Fred MacMurray

5. Brave Elevator Operator

6. Going To The Broadcast

7. The Best Of The Worst Of... (Excerpt)

8. Get It Right Corporal!

9. Marriage And Girlfriends

10. Max Is Now A Swimming Instructor But Is Never Out Of His Depth

11. More About Courting & Married Life

12. Cupid On Valentine's Day

13. Is There No End To His Cleverness?

14. Bill Cosby Goes To A Football Game

15. The 'Had It Tough', Poor, Contest

16. Opening A Jail

18. A Letter From Bill

19. Jack Banny Competes

20. Bad Reviews

21. He Now Recites

22. Drats

23. Lovely Lunch

24. Happy Anniversary Eddie

25. Jerry's System For Dating Girls

26. Women In Paris

27. Ravelli In Court

28. Ton Up Boy

30. The Sunshine Boys

31. Financial Expert

32. Porn Shop

33. Telling A Good Story

34. Shirley's Girlfriend "Picnic"

35. Little Blue Riding Hood

36. The Ups And Downs Of Brenda Scutltebutt, Girl Yo-Yo

37. The Cheeky Chappie Picks From The White Book & The Blue Book

38. Harpo Marx Ace Reporter

39. Morgan On Wagner

40. Max Gives Jean Some Chocolates

41. Jack And Groucho Play Checkers

42. Pre Show Jitters

43. One Leg Too Few

44. Impressions

45. The Cheeky Chappie Tella A Few More

46. The Morning After The Night Before

47. Albert Evacuated

48. Heine's And Moe's

49. The Astronaut

50. Danovitch Kayoff

51. Charles Laughton As Santa

53. The Fleabo Company

54. Me An' Old Charlie

55. Radio Quizz

56. The Funniest Woman In The World

57. The Society Wedding Stakes

58. Some Enchanted Evening

59. The Cheekie Chappie Tells One

60. At The Hungry I (Excerpt)

61. Civil Defense (No Talking)

62. The Great Train Robbery

63. Sam And Henry At The Dentist's

64. Hope In Russia (Excerpt)

65. Take A Pew

66. Lies, Lies, And More Lies

68. The Royal Box

69. The Beauty Parlor

70. Telephone Call

71. The Voice And Philosophy Of W.C. Fields

72. A Hillbilly Baseball Story

73. A Date After The Show

74. Dr. Kronkite And His Ownly Living Patient

75. Writer Of Children's Books

76. The Temperance Lecture

77. All Good Things Come To An End

78. The Cheeky Chappie Goes On Picking 'Em

79. Cohen At The Telephone

80. Who's On First

81. Max Tells Of His First Arp Experience

83. Over The Gate

84. Point Of View; Ku Klux Klan

85. Harpo's Girl Problen

86. Get A Horse; Lost

87. Old Girls' School Reunion

88. Women Take Over

89. A Tour Of 20th Century Fox

90. Selling Jolson Anything

91. Chico Plays On Bob's Show

92. An Assortment Of Yarns; Morris Of Arabia; Matzo Ball Soup; Cohen, Goldberg And Lipshitz; The Friendly Bench

93. Jean Carr Asks Some Questions, But Max Knows All The Answers

94. The Horse Show

95. Uncle Josh In A Barber Shop

96. Two Black Crows Part 1

97. Have You Ever Seen Betty Grable?

98. The Diet

99. The Cool World

100. Stop Press

x

Track List: Vintage Comedy Tracks

1. Evils Of The Weed

2. Department Store

3. Take My Wife, Please

4. Ike, Sherm, And Nick

5. Recumbent Posture

6. The Funniest Woman In The World

8. Nursery School

9. Maudie The Racehorse

10. What Does It Matter?

11. Trains

12. Pass That Peace Pipe

13. Concert In Comedy

14. Going To The Broadcast

15. The Best Of The Worst Of... (Excerpt)

16. Max Is Now A Swimming Instructor But Is Never Out Of His Depth

17. Komodo Dragon

18. Drats

19. Women In Paris

20. Get A Horse

21. The Astronaut

22. One Leg Too Few

23. Education

24. Shiksehs For Jews (My Three Wives)

25. The Hospital

26. Judgment Day

27. Charles Laughton As Santa

28. The "Had It Tough", Poor, Contest

29. Civil Defense (No Talking)

30. The Great Train Robbery

31. The Beauty Parlor

33. Rocket To The Moon

34. The Musical Director

35. A Tour Of 20th Century Fox

36. The Diet

Comments

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