Look at his eyes! Why, the man's gone crazy
If God is good, I will be able to play comedy, in which I was featured on Broadway for eight seasons and in which no producer of motion pictures will give me a chance! And please God, may it be before I go screwy playing idiots, half-wits and lunatics on the talking screen!
— Dwight Frye
Dwight Frye (1899-1943) was an American actor remembered mostly for his appearances in the classic Universal Horror
films Dracula (1931)
, Frankenstein (1931)
, and Bride of Frankenstein
— in which he codified
both The Igor
and The Renfield
Frye had an extensive and varied stage career (including a part in the first American production of Six Characters In Search Of An Author
), gaining some positive attention for his roles on Broadway, but his hot eyes and earnest delivery were a bit overpowering on film in addition to his short stature. Hollywood cast him mostly as pathetic nutcases
, but he kept trying to pursue a successful film career, and accepted any role he could to pay his bills
. Frye's other roles were usually limited to very small, but memorable parts on B-list gangster movies (including the original Maltese Falcon
), usually as the villain's henchman. A devout Christian Scientist, he refused to seek medical attention for his secret coronary condition, and his untimely death by heart attack came just days before he was supposed to begin filming a prominent "straight" role, as Woodrow Wilson
's Secretary of War in Wilson
. It's debatable if the film would have finally launched him into stardom.
He has gained a small cult following for his roles in the Universal Horror
films, and inspired an Alice Cooper song
: "The Ballad of Dwight Fry [sic]."