One hundred years ago, the startling Monster in the Kinetograph Frankenstein drew its aesthetic inspiration from theatrical tradition harking all the way back to 1823, when T.P.Cooke first leapt onstage wearing a belted toga, a “counselor’s” wig, and blue greasepaint on his face. Cooke’s imitators and successors copied and perpetuated the look.
By the time Charles Ogle donned the tunic and wig of The Monster at the Edison studios in 1910, he stood in a direct line of shaggy Frankenstein monsters, the image of The Monster in the first half of its performance life, as dominant then as the radically different Pierce and Karloff version has been since 1931.
Charles Ogle’s grimacing Monster is an irresistible inspiration for figure and mask art interpretations. The best of the bunch is William Paquet’s superb sculpt, originally produced as a resin kit by Monstrology Models and reissued in 2009 by Fritz Frising. The figurine is beautifully detailed, with wild crepe hair and realistic drool.
An earlier resin kit produced by Bruce Turner’s Cinema Art Models, captured the Ogle Monster in his trademark hula dancer pose.
A bizarre re-imagining of the Edison Frankenstein was produced by Aztech Toys and issued by Mezco as part of the Silent Screamers series that included the Metropolis Robot, the Golem and Nosferatu, all given an altogether unnecessary makeover.
Finally, a brand-new, one-of piece is the fabulous 100th Anniversary Tribute Display Mask created by sculptor and makeup artist Tony Pitocco on a special commission from mask expert and collector extraordinaire Bill Luciani. It’s a perfect, stunning likeness of the saucer-eyed Monster, seen here for the first time.
There can be no doubt, Ogle’s Monster will continue to inspire for another hundred years.