Saturday, July 13, 2013
MONSTEROLOGY: CHARLES OGLE - THE FIRST FRANKENSTEIN
Unless a miracle occurs and another, earlier version is somehow resurrected from a forgotten film collector's attic, Charles Stenton Ogle (1865-1940) has the distinction of being the actor to portray the first of a long line of cinematic Frankenstein monsters. Technically, the picture known today as EDISON'S FRANKENSTEIN (Edison 1910), is characterized as a "short subject", as its running time is around 16 minutes. That said, we can safely say that Boris Karloff has the honor of being the monster in the first feature-length version (Universal 1931).
Another distinction that Mr. Ogle holds is that he is credited as devising and applying his own makeup of the monster. Makeup wizard Jack Pierce built up layers of cotton and collodion onto Karloff's face to create the visage that we are all most familiar with. It is unknown what material Ogle used for his makeup.
Here is a photograph of Charles Ogle, 4 years after his role in FRANKENSTEIN and sans makeup in the September 1914 issue of MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE. He appears alongside several of his other fellow Edison actors in one of the magazine's regular features, "Gallery of Picture Players".