It was 80 years ago, on September 28 and 29, 1931, that the notorious drowning scene in Frankenstein was filmed.
Radiating innocence, the child Maria stops The Monster in his errant tracks and forces the only smile ever to cross his hideous face. He is thrilled by a simple game of floating daisies and, when he runs out of flowers, he reaches for the girl.
Young Marilyn Harris (1924-1999) would encounter The Monster again, appearing briefly in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) among a group of schoolgirls sent squealing in fright when The Monster stumbles across their path. Director James Whale was fond of Marilyn as she also plays small roles in Show Boat (1936) and The Road Back (1937). Sadly, Marilyn Harris’s childhood was an unhappy one, due to parental discord and a domineering stage mother. Her short film career, playing bit parts and often uncredited, petered out in 1944.
No doubt Marilyn Harris would be forgotten today, but for a short scene with Boris Karloff, shot 80 years ago, out at Malibou Lake. Today, Marilyn as Little Maria is a movie legend.
Return to Malibou Lake: In a FRANKENSTEINIA Exclusive, John Cox visits the mountain lake location where the scene was filmed.