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Creator / Dwight Frye

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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 Iliff Frye (February 22, 1899 November 7, 1943) was an American actor remembered mostly for his appearances in the classic Universal Horror films Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), in which he codified both The Igor and The Renfield.

Frye enjoyed an extensive and varied stage career (including a part in the first American production of Six Characters in Search of an Author) and gained some positive attention for his performances on Broadway, but his hot eyes and earnest delivery, in combination with his short stature, could be a bit overpowering on film. Hollywood cast him mostly as pathetic nutcases, but he kept trying to pursue a successful film career, and would take any role he could to pay his bills. These were usually limited to small, though memorable, parts in B-list gangster pictures (including the original 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon), typically as the villain's henchman. He also appeared in the 1942 short film Don't Talk as a saboteur at a war munitions plant.

A devout Christian Scientist, Frye refused to seek medical attention for his secret coronary condition, and his untimely death from a 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. Whether or not that film could have finally launched him into stardom is up for debate.

In any event, over the years he's gained a small cult following for his horror roles, and even inspired an Alice Cooper song: "The Ballad of Dwight Fry [sic]".


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