When I was only four years old, my father introduced me to the various black-and-white monster movies, made by Universal Studios from the 1930s to the 50s. Ranging from Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, to the Wolf Man and the Mummy, the 'Universal Monsters' were not only staples in the horror genre, but the actors who portrayed them became the best known actors of their era.
Without further ado, here are ten fun facts about the various monsters that I grew up with.
1. Bela Lugosi was Originally Pursued for the Role of the Frankenstein Monster
Lugosi was James Whale's first choice to play the Monster in 1931's Frankenstein, but ultimately declined because the role didn't have any speaking parts. Lugosi then went on to play Dracula in one of the most legendary performances of the horror genre in the same year.
2. He Ended Up Playing the Role Twelve Years Later
Twelve years later, the role had an opening in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man in 1943, which Lugosi then filled after the fame that the role had gained from the first film.
3. Lon Chaney Jr. Was Born Creighton Tull Chaney
The son of legendary silent film actor, Lon Chaney, Creighton changed his name to mirror his father's, mostly as a stage name. Lon Chaney Jr. then went on to popularize the role of the Wolf Man in 1941.
4. Lon Chaney Jr. Has Been Many of the Major Monsters
After the success of The Wolf Man, Chaney went on to play almost all of the major monsters, including Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, and the Mummy.
5. The Creature from the Black Lagoon Had to Hold His Breath
Ricou Browning was a professional diver, but the director and the costume designers of the 1954 film believed that because the creature was supposed to have gills to breathe, that there shouldn't be air bubbles coming from its mouth, and so they didn't create room for an air tank in the costume. Therefore, Browning had to hold his breath for up to four minutes at a time for them to film!
6. 1932's The Mummy Holds the Record for Most Money Paid For a Movie Poster at Auction: $453,500
7. Frankenstein Director James Whale Also Directed 1933's The Invisible Man
Creating the first film for both the Frankenstein and the Invisible Man franchises, Whale was an extremely accomplished director, especially while working in a time where his sexuality was highly discriminated against. Extra fact: Boris Karloff, the actor who portrayed Frankenstein's Monster in the title film and two of its sequels was Universal's first choice for the Invisible Man, but they ultimately cast Claude Rains in the role after Whale accidentally heard a totally different screen test playing in a separate room and loved the sound of his voice.
8. Claude Rains was also Lon Chaney Jr.'s Father in the first Wolf Man film
9. Frankenstein Actor Boris Karloff Voiced the Grinch and the Narrator in the 1966 Animated Film How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
10. Jack P. Pierce Was the Mastermind Behind the Makeup of Many Iconic Monsters
Pierce worked on countless films and created so many of the original monster makeup jobs for Universal Studios. Pierce was the creator of not only the Frankenstein Monster's look but also that of the Wolf Man, Mummy, and the Bride of Frankenstein. Pierce was arguably one of the greatest makeup artists of all time, even often refusing to use latex applications.
Some of these monsters are being remade in the coming years with both The Invisible Man and The Mummy getting reboots between now and 2018! Which monster from the classic days would you like to see the most in today's movie age?
Sources: Google.com/Images, IMDb.com