Colin Clive Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (11)  | Personal Quotes (1)  | Salary (3)

Overview (4)

Born in St. Malo, France
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (pneumonia, as a result of a long history of alcoholism)
Birth NameColin Glenn Clive-Greig
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Who could forget Colin Clive's "It's Alive! It's Alive!" as he melted to the floor mumbling the same over and over in ecstasy after his success at animating the Monster in the first sound version of Frankenstein (1931). Film history - horror film history - but part of a short history for actor Colin Clive - he died at 37 years of age. The son of a British army colonel on assignment in France at the time of Colin's birth, Clive the younger might have been expected to follow an army career-his ancestor was Baron Robert Clive, founder of the British Indian Empire. But he became interested in theater instead. His acting talents progressed through the 1920s to sufficient degree to replace Laurence Olivier who was starring in the R. C Sherriff play "Journey's End" in London. The director was up-and-coming James Whale, who had also been working his way up in London stage and film work as a budding scene designer and director. Among his stage and entertainment acquaintances in London was Elsa Lanchester - the future bride of Frankenstein. When Olivier moved on to other stage work, the play moved to the Savoy Theater in London with Clive in the lead in 1928.

Whale was waiting for the opportunity to move onto Broadway and Hollywood films. The success of "Journey's End" gave Whale his break. Broadway called for the play with him as both director and scene designer. It opened in March of 1929 but with Colin Keith-Johnston in the lead. Nevertheless, Clive came to New York as well to await developments. Halfway through 1930, the play had ended, and Whale was contracted by Paramount as a dialog director. Things continued to unfold quickly. Whale was very soon called on to direct what would be the first British/American co-produced sound film, a movie version of the popular Journey's End (1930). Whale got Clive back as the lead-the laconic, alcoholic Capt. Stanhope. And Clive showed on screen what came out in his stage performances - a measured intensity to his character, bolstered by his unique cracked baritone voice - seemingly always on the edge of irritation. Clive's first picture then led to opportunities in both British and American films. But he got his first play on Broadway "Overture" in late 1930 which ended in January of 1931. Then it was back to London where he was prophetically cast with Lanchester in The Stronger Sex (1932).

As they say, what came next was film history. Whale was contracted by Universal where Dracula (1931) had just been a huge hit and the studio was looking for a quick follow up. Shelley's Frankenstein was optioned as the next 'horror' movie with Whale directing. Whale wanted Clive as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, and it all came together. Clive played the tortured legitimate doctor driven to macabre surgery and near insanity with over-the-top theatrics that would type him for the remainder of his short career.

The next few years he played both B leading and A supporting roles. Two apt examples were playing brooding but romantic Edward Rochester in an early Jane Eyre (1934) and playing a British officer in Clive of India (1935) in which Ronald Colman - not he - played his illustrious ancestor. Clive returned to Broadway for two plays in 1933 and 1934 and one more in the 1935-36 season. Then it was back to Universal for the "Bride" sequel of Frankenstein (1935) in which his Dr. Henry was somewhat more subdued. This was mostly to do with a broken leg suffered from a horseback riding accident. He is seen doing a lot of sitting or lying down because of it. Dour and sour seemed to be his trademark, bolstered that much more with the remainder of his films in which he was usually disturbed supporting characters.

His final two films were in early 1937 with the better known History Is Made at Night (1937) - awkward type-casting him as the world's most sour grapes ex-husband, Bruce Vail, who engineers a sure collision of his new steamship with any available iceberg in foggy weather to hopefully drown his ex-wife Jean Arthur and her romantic true love Charles Boyer. But the sinking ship is stabilized and the lovers are saved to live happily ever after. Ironically, but befitting such a deed in Hollywood ethics, Vail shoots himself.

Ironically, Clive, suffering from tuberculosis, furthered along by chronic alcoholism, died not long after in late June of 1937.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: William McPeak

Family (1)

Spouse Jeanne De Casalis (June 1929 - 25 June 1937)  (his death)
Evelyn Taylor (1922 - 1929)  (her death)

Trade Mark (3)

His role as Frankenstein
His roles in Horror films
Clipped English accent

Trivia (11)

Severe alcoholism hastened his death from tuberculosis, heart problems, and pneumonia..
May be the only cinema's Dr. Frankenstein to be taller (by about an inch) than the actor playing his monster, Boris Karloff. This inconsistency is not apparent in the films, since Karloff added on considerable size with lifts and padding.
He was a direct descendant of Clive of India and intended to pursue a career in the military, but a fall from a horse shattered those plans. This may be part of the reason why he was drinking - he was no longer fit enough to continue in his intended occupation.
Peter Lorre and Alan Mowbray were pallbearers at Clive's funeral, but neither friend James Whale nor wife Jeanne de Casalis attended, although she sent a spray of roses. She died in 1966 after writing her memoir "Things i Don't Remember." In it she makes no mention of her husband.
In "The Firebird," his first film under his new Warner contract in 1934, Clive suffered an alcoholic breakdown and had to be replaced by Lionel Atwill.
Although he was a resident of the Algonquin Hotel, he kept to himself and never took part in the Algonquin Round Table.
The reason James Whale wanted to cast Clive as Stanhope in "Journey's End" in the role created by Laurence Olivier was because he was fascinated by the prospect of having the part played by a real alcoholic.
Clive made a comeback of sorts in "Libel," a courtroom thriller directed by Otto Preminger during which he stayed sober until the company celebrated its 100th performance in Philadelphia with a champagne party. Clive joined it and started the downward spiral of his health, which ended in his death the following year.
Played by Matt McKenzie in Gods and Monsters (1998).
[According to "Frankennstein" co-star Mae Clarke in a 1985 interview) Colin Clive was the dearest, kindest (in the real meaning of the word 'kind') man, who gave you importance. He was so wonderful, so clever. When he started acting in a scene, I wanted to stop and just watch... I'd think, " Here I am, playing scenes with this marvelous actor! Mr. Whale would say, "Colin's voice is like a pipe organ... I just pull out the stops, and he produces the music." Colin was electric. I was mesmerized by him - so much so that I hoped it didn't show! When he looked at me, I'd flush. He had a wife back in England, and I had my young man (of the "Waterloo Bridge" premiere.) In fact, I was glad my fiancé was at the premiere that night - to be my good anchor against my stormy waves of fancy for Colin. He was the handsomest man I ever saw - and also the saddest. Colin's sadness was elusive; the sadness you see if you contemplate many of the master painters' and sculptors' conceptions of the face of Christ - the ultimate source in my view of all sadness.
Colin Clive was the first actor to reprise his role of Baron Frankenstein.

Personal Quotes (1)

[to Louis Hayward on the set of "The Woman I Love"] My dear sir, get out of this business. It'll kill you; it'll kill you.

Salary (3)

The Key (1934) $1,500 per week (3 week guarantee)
One More River (1934) $1,500 per week
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) $1,500 per week (4 week guarantee)

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