April 14, 2008

Elizabeth : Valerie Hobson

Valerie Hobson was born on this day, April 14, in 1917. In 1935, she played Elizabeth, the “true” Bride of Frankenstein in the classic film of that name.

The stunning, Irish born actress was praised for parts played in The Drum (1938), Great Expectations (1946) and the wonderful black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). Horror film fans remember Hobson for her turns in four Universal films, all made in 1935. She appeared in the curious, Frankensteinian Life Returns, which featured newsreel footage of a re-animated dog, she played opposite Claude Rains in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, she was the Bride of the Werewolf, Henry Hull, in Werewolf of London and, of course, she played Elizabeth to Colin Clive’s Dr. Frankenstein in Bride of Frankenstein, replacing Mae Clarke who had originated the part in the 1931 film.

Hobson, unfortunately, doesn’t have much to do in the film besides fretting for her frail husband in the opening scenes, and later on struggling a little against the loose ropes that bind her as she is kidnapped and held to blackmail Frankenstein into creating the Monster’s Bride.

Worth noting: The original trailer for the film — here on YouTube — includes an outtake, not seen in the finished film, of Karloff’s Monster grabbing and carrying Elizabeth away.

Hobson abandoned her film career in the early fifties, shortly after her wedding to British politician John Profumo, whose name would become synonymous with a notorious sex and spy scandal in 1963. Hobson stood by her disgraced husband and the couple devoted the rest of their lives to very significant charity work, eventually earning redemption for Profumo and a prestigious award for contributions “countering social deprivation and exclusion”. A son, David, wrote a memoir about his parents and the impact of the scandal on their lives in which he paints a picture of his mother as a remarkably strong and dignified woman.

Valerie Hobson passed away in London, in 1998.

Valerie Hobson on the Internet Movie Database, the British Film Institute’s Screen Online, and New York Times obituary.

A review of David Profumo’s book, Bringing The House Down (2006).

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