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Subject: ARCHIVE: November 7, 1943 ~It was 75 years ago today, Hollywood character actor Dwight Frye, best known for his neurotic, murderous villains in several classic Universal horror films, such as 'Renfield' in Dracula (1931), and twisted laboratory assistant 'Fritz' in Frankenstein (1931), dies at 44 of a heart attack on a cross-town Hollywood bus. ...

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Date Posted: Wednesday, November 07, 04:35:10pm

American stage and screen actor. He is best known for his neurotic, murderous villains in several
classic Universal horror films, such as Renfield in Dracula (1931) and as Fritz in Frankenstein (1931). ...

Dwight Frye
Dwight Iliff Frye ]
(February 22, 1899 November 7, 1943)

Early life and career
Frye was born in Salina, Kansas and studied for a career in music and first appeared as a concert pianist. In the 1920s, he made his name as a stage actor, often in comedies. In 1924, he played the Son in a production of Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author.

While he had a few minor roles in silent pictures, with the coming of sound he soon became known for playing villains. Nicknamed "The Man with the Thousand-Watt Stare" and "The Man of a Thousand Deaths", he specialized in the portrayal of mentally unbalanced characters, including his signature role, the madman Renfield in Tod Browning's 1931 version of Dracula.

...Later that same year, he played the hunchbacked assistant Fritz in Frankenstein. Also in 1931, Frye portrayed Wilmer Cook (the "gunsel") in the first film version of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. He had a featured role in the horror film The Vampire Bat (1933) in which he played Herman, a half-wit suspected of being a killer. He had memorable roles in The Invisible Man (1933) as a reporter, and in The Crime of Dr. Crespi (1935).

In Bride of Frankenstein (1935), he played Karl. The part was originally much more substantive; many of Frye's additional scenes were part of a subplot but were cut to shorten the running time and appease the censors. One of the deleted scenes was that of Karl killing a Burgomaster, portrayed by E. E. Clive. Nothing remains of these scenes except still photographs included in a Universal Studios DVD release of the film. He played similar characters in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943); another appearance in Son of Frankenstein (1939) was deleted prior to release. Also in the 1930s, he appeared in two films featuring James Cagney: The Doorway to Hell (1930) (as a hit man) and Something To Sing About (1937) as a fussy hairdresser.

During the early 1940s, Frye alternated between film roles and appearing on stage in a variety of productions ranging from comedies to musicals, as well as appearing in a stage version of Dracula. During World War II, he made a contribution to the war effort by working nights as a tool designer for Lockheed Aircraft.

On November 7, 1943, Frye died of a heart attack while travelling by bus in Hollywood,
a few days before he was scheduled to begin filming the biopic Wilson, buried on a
pastorial slope in the Graceland section of Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.
He was survived by his widow Laura Mae Bullivant (1899-1979), and son Dwight D. Jr. (1930-2003),
who as a teen witnessed his father's death on that bus.

Musical tribute
American rock band Alice Cooper wrote and recorded a tribute track to Dwight Frye entitled "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" (purposefully dropping the last "e") that was included on their 1971 LP Love It to Death. On stage, this song would be portrayed with Cooper in a straitjacket trying to escape, and finally breaking free at the end of the song to strangle the nurse with the ties.


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"The Ballad of Dwight Fry"Alice CooperWednesday, November 07, 04:43:49pm

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