January 2, 2017


Ernest Thesiger (1879-1961) b. London, England.

Ernest Thesiger

Gaunt British character actor Ernest Graham Thesiger was educated at Marlborough College and had originally studied to become an artist at the Slade. He made his first stage appearance in a production of Colonel Smith in 1909. He continued on stage until the outbreak of WWI, when he enlisted and was subsequently sent home wounded from the front.

He achieved a professional triumph as star of the stage farce A Little Bit of Fluff, which opened in 1915 and ran for several years. In 1916 he made his film debut in The Real Thing at Last (1916), the first of a handful of silent film appearances. In 1932, he made his talkie debut in James Whale’s adaptation J.B. Priestly’s “Benighted”, The Old Dark House (1932), creating an indelible impression as Horace Femm, the condescending lord of the forbidding dwelling of the title. He returned to Britain to appear in Gaumont-British’s production of The Ghoul (1933) with Boris Karloff, then Whale once again requested Thesiger’s services in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), wherein the actor had the role of a lifetime as the mad scientist Dr Pretorius.

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) would be Thesiger’s last film in America and he returned to Britain once again, and appeared in the Alexander Korda’s adaptation of H.G. Wells The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) and had a memorable role as the sinister strangler in They Drive by Night (1938). During the 1940s he appeared in minor roles in the comedies My Learned Friend (1943), Don’t Take It to Heart (1944) and The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1947). Subsequently he played a departed eccentric in Laughter in Paradise (1951) and the gaunt cotton mill kingpin in Ealing’s The Man in the White Suit (1951). He made his final film appearance in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961). Thesiger was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1960 and passed away the following year.

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