It's true that Unviversal's monster movies wouldn't be much if it weren't for the monsters themselves and the mon-stars that played them. Production design, sets, scripts, and music also play a large part in the general atmosphere of these gothic greats.
Another important element that makes these vintage horror films classics are the numerous supporting cast members, many of them playing memorable roles that have over the years, become iconic in the oeuvre. After all, whrere would Dr. Frankenstein be without Dwight Frye's Fritz, or Rathbone's Frankenstein be without Lugosi's Ygor?
One of the most unique of these supporting players was a woman who knew how to "say her prayers by night" and avoid the bite of the werewolf -- the character that monster fans the world over know as "the old gypsy woman", Maleva, played by Maria Ouspenskaya.
Maria Ouspenskaya was born in Tula, Russia, on July 29, 1876. She played in hundreds of Russian films before coming to America to make a few more.
In her biography by Homer Dickens in SCREEN FACTS #4 (Fall 1963), he proclaims that her "unusual accent, luminous eyes and bold Tartar feautures created an image not easily forgotten". He goes on to chronicle her short run of 20 American films that includes her role as Maleva in THE WOLF MAN and FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN.
We all know and are endeared towards the character of Maleva as she is always seen as the wise benefactor and sometimes-protector of our anti-hero turned werewolf, Larry Talbot. The role couldn't have been more perfectly cast.
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