Dwight Frye

Biography

Date of Birth 22 February 1899, Salina, Kansas, USA Date of Death 7 November 1943, Hollywood, California, USA (heart attack) Birth Name Dwight Iliff Fry Height 5' 6½" (1.69 m) An extremely versatile character actor, originator of several memorable characterizations in the horror film genre. Dwight Frye had a notable theatrical career in the 1920's, moving from juvenile parts to leads before entering film. A favorite actor of Broadway theatrical producer-director Brock Pemberton, he originated the part of "the Son" in his hit 1922 production of of Luigi Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author." Pemberton would continue to frequently cast him in Broadway productions throughout the decade. Cast with Bela Lugosi in a 1926 production of "The Devil and the Cheese, " he ultimately appeared in at least two Lugosi films. Despite (or perhaps because of) his memorable, impassioned portrayals of real estate agent-cum-madman Renfield in Tod Browning's 1931 film Dracula (1931) and Fritz the sadistic hunchbacked lab assistant in James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) the industry seemed determined to typecast him and his film career would be marked with frustration. The Crime of Dr. Crespi (1935) offered him billing second only to that of villain Erich von Stroheim but too soon he was consigned to playing a lackluster array of lunatics, spies, red herrings, grasping heirs, and bit parts. He occasionally returned to the stage in comedies, musicals, and thrillers such as "Night Must Fall" and a stage version of "Dracula." Frye was perplexed to find his versatility in the theatre went unnoticed in Hollywood, where he was relegated to lunatic roles and often had his parts severely cut. Indeed, in Son of Frankenstein (1939) his role was deemed as unnecessary when an abrupt switch was made from Technicolor to black and white after his scenes were shot. Frye, a devout Christian Scientist, had concealed a heart condition from his friends and family. After the outbreak of WWII, unable to enlist, he worked nights (between films and local theatre productions) as a draftsman for the Lockheed Aircraft Company. An uncanny physical resemblance to then-Secretary of War Newton D. Baker led to being signed to a substantial role in a film called "Wilson" to be directed by Henry King, based on the life of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, but Frye succumbed to a heart attack on a crowded bus a few days later. He was returning home from a movie with his son. He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetary in Glandale, California.

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Known For
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Dracula

Renfield

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Dead Men Walk

Zolarr

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Submarine Alert

Haldine, fifth columnist (uncredited)

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The Crime of Doctor Crespi

Dr. Thomas

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Alibi for Murder

McBride

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Invisible Enemy

Alex

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Florida Special

Jenkins

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Wayne Murder Case

Robert Wayne

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The Man Who Found Himself

Hysterical Patient

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Tough Guy

Mack (uncredited)

Starring In
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Universal Horror

(archive footage)

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Submarine Alert

Haldine, fifth columnist (uncredited)

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Dead Men Walk

Zolarr

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Hangmen Also Die

Hostage (uncredited)

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Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

Rudi

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The Ghost of Frankenstein

Villager (uncredited)

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The Son of Monte Cristo

Pavlov's Secretary (uncredited)

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Sky Bandits

Speavy

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I Take This Woman

Gus (scenes deleted)

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The Man In The Iron Mask

Fouquet's Valet (uncredited)

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Son of Frankenstein

Villager (unconfirmed)

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Invisible Enemy

Alex

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Adventure in Sahara

Gravet - 'The Jackal'

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Sinners in Paradise

Marshall (uncredited)

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The Road Back

Small Man at Rally (uncredited)

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Danger Patrol

Man on Telephone (uncredited)

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The Man Who Found Himself

Hysterical Patient

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Something to Sing About

Mr. Easton

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Alibi for Murder

McBride

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Florida Special

Jenkins

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Tough Guy

Mack (uncredited)

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The Crime of Doctor Crespi

Dr. Thomas

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The Bride of Frankenstein

Karl

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The Invisible Man

Reporter (uncredited)

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The Vampire Bat

Herman Gleib

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Wayne Murder Case

Robert Wayne

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Frankenstein

Fritz

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The Maltese Falcon

Wilmer Cook

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Drácula

Renfield (archive footage) (uncredited)

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Dracula

Renfield

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The Black Camel

Jessop (uncredited)

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The Doorway to Hell

Gangster

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Exit Smiling

Balcony Heckler (uncredited)

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Great Guy

Man (uncredited)

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