March 11th is Frankenstein’s Birthday!
On this day in 1818, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was published. The fateful tale about a scientist who builds a creature from dismembered corpses is considered to be the world’s first science fiction novel. The creature is intellectually gifted, yet large and hideous. He is rejected by his creator, Dr. Frankenstein, and wanders the countryside looking for companionship.
Mary Shelley came up with the story two years earlier while in Geneva with her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and friend Lord Byron. Byron suggested they each write the scariest ghost story they could conjure, and 19-year-old Mary was the only one to finish hers.
In the past 193 years, Frankenstein’s monster has been portrayed in many movies, TV shows, commercials, songs and even on cereal boxes!
Frankenstein Fun Facts:
• The monster is commonly called “Frankenstien,” but he was never actually given a name (although Shelley referred to him as “Adam”).
• Despite common depictions, the monster of the book was not green with bolts sticking out of his neck. Dr. Frankenstein carefully assembled his creature to be attractive; however, once the monster was alive, he was described as having yellowish eyes, long black hair, “shriveled complexion,” “straight black lips,” and yellow skin that “scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath.”
• Victor Frankenstein was based on a real person – Johann Konrad Dippel. Born in Castle Frankenstein in Germany, he was a doctor who experimented with reanimating dead animals and corpses in hopes of achieving immortality.
• The first Frankenstein film created was a single-reel silent movie made in 1910.
• Legends Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., and Bela Lugosi have all played the role of Frankenstein’s monster. The films are (respectively): Frankenstein (1931), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943).
• Boris Karloff asked to have a famous scene cut from the 1931 Frankenstein film – the scene where the monster accidentally kills little Maria after making friends with her and tossing flowers into a pond. They run out of flowers and the creature throws Maria into the water and then runs away when she doesn’t float like the flowers did.
• In Yellow Submarine John Lennon drinks a potion and transforms from the monster into his self.
• In order to play Herman Munster on the 1960s sitcom The Munsters, actor Fred Gwynne had to endure three-hour makeup sessions and wear a 40-pound costume.
• The monster has been depicted in many TV commercials including ads for Pepsi, Shasta, Twix, Radio Shack, and Volkswagen.
• Eddie Van Halen named his red patchwork guitar “Frankenstein.”
• Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” was inspired by a scene in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.
• Frankenstein’s monster has appeared on the US postage stamp twice! In 1997 and in 2002.